If you are expecting for the first time, you might experience bouts of tiredness or difficulty concentrating. However, extreme fatigue can actually be a sign that you are struggling with low iron levels because of your pregnancy. If you are light headed, always tired, and have a hard time focusing on specific tasks, you should talk to your care provider about the possibility that your could have pregnancy-induced iron-deficiency anemia.
Why is iron important?
Iron is used to make hemoglobin, which is a special protein used by your red blood cells to bind to oxygen. The oxygen is then delivered by your red blood cells to all the other cells in your body. If you don't have sufficient iron levels, you will not make enough hemoglobin, which means that your cells will not get as much oxygen. The lack of oxygenation prevents your cells from working at optimum performance, which is why you feel so tired all the time.
How serious is anemia during pregnancy?
Mild anemia may simply cause you discomfort as your struggle with lower energy levels, but more severe anemia can actually lead to pregnancy and birth complications. Remember that your growing baby also will not get the oxygen he or she needs if you have low iron levels. More commonly, untreated anemia can cause your baby to be born too early. You also have a higher risk of hemorrhaging during delivery and having postpartum depression. In some cases, low iron levels can affect the development of a fetus, leading to some developmental delays.
How can you prevent iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy?
Some people are at a higher risk of developing anemia during pregnancy. If you are a growing teenager, pregnant with twins, or had troubles with your iron levels before you became pregnant, you are more likely to have this problem. However, regardless of your risk, you should be vigilant about increasing your iron intake during pregnancy, as pregnant women need about 27 mg of iron daily. Try to:
Are there other other forms of anemia besides iron-deficiency?
What if you feel tired all the time but your iron levels are normal? You could still have anemia, but it could be cased by a folate deficiency or a lack of vitamin B-12. These are less common than iron deficiency, but still affect your ability to get oxygen. Both these vitamins are needed to produce red blood cells. Your care provider can request a blood test to help diagnose these anemia types.
Talk to your doctor or midwife (http://www.whallc.com) if you notice any of these issues.
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