Anemia is a condition in which the body does not create adequate red blood cells to transport oxygen to the different body tissues and the baby. Pregnant women are at a greater risk of developing anemia.
Anemia and pregnancy have a direct relationship. When you are pregnant, your body produces more blood to support the growth of the baby. However, if you are not getting sufficient iron from the food, your body may fail to produce the needed amount of red blood cells. And this may contribute to anemia.
A lot of women experience mild anemia during pregnancy. But if the condition progresses, it may lead to several severe symptoms. In this article, we will understand the link between anemia and pregnancy. We will also talk about easy tips that you can follow to prevent this condition from occurring.
Different Types of Anemia during Pregnancy
A pregnant woman may get different types of anemia. This includes:
Iron deficiency anemia: As the name suggests, this type of anemia happens when the body does not get sufficient dietary iron to produce red blood cells. This hampers the process of transporting oxygen to the baby and the rest of the body.
It is important to note that iron deficiency anemia is the most common cause of anemia that occurs during pregnancy.
Vitamin B12 deficiency: Vitamin B12 is another important nutrient that is required to form healthy red blood cells. If a pregnant woman does not get adequate vitamin B12, it will not be able to produce the needed red blood cells that may lead to anemia.
Food items that come from animals, such as eggs, meats, milk, and poultry can help to eliminate the chances of B12 deficiency.
Folate deficiency: Folate is a type of B vitamin that works with iron to stimulate cell growth. Lack of folate during pregnancy may lead to iron deficiency. And this may cause birth defects in the brain and spinal cord of the baby.
Who Is At Risk of Anemia during Pregnancy?
There are certain people who are at great risk of developing anemia during pregnancy. These include:
- Women who have two pregnancies back to back
- Women who are pregnant with more than one child
- Women who do not consume an iron-rich diet
- Women who had a heavy pre-pregnancy menstrual flow
- Women who vomit frequently during their pregnancy
Moving on, to understand the link between anemia and pregnancy, you must know about the symptoms of the same.
- Excessive tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Paleness of skin, lips, nails, undersides of eyelids, and palms of hands
- Increased heartbeat
- Trouble in concentrating
These symptoms may or may not be related to anemia during pregnancy. It is best to consult your healthcare practitioner to find out the cause behind it.
Preventing Anemia during Pregnancy
Thankfully, preventing anemia in pregnancy is not tough. Merely following a good diet rich in iron can help to prevent the condition. Also, eating a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet will lead to improved health and a healthier baby.
So, make sure to increase the intake of the following food items.
- Fish: Fish is an excellent source of iron and helps to keep iron deficiency in check. You can include shellfish, fully-cooked oysters, clams, mussels, sardines, and anchovies in your diet. As per the guidelines issued by the FDA, pregnant women must eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish per week to prevent anemia.
- Leafy greens: This includes kale, broccoli, collards, turnip greens, cabbage, and more.
- Meats and poultry items: This includes eating beef, pork, liver, chicken, duck, and organ meats.
- Legumes: Legumes like lima beans, dry beans, peas, black-eyed peas, and canned baked beans are good for increasing iron levels in the body and preventing deficiency.
- Iron-fortified breakfast cereals, white bread, rice, and pasta.
These are some of the best iron sources that you must include in your diet. Increasing the intake of these items can help to prevent anemia during pregnancy.
Understanding the relationship between anemia and pregnancy is important to avoid the condition. You can talk to your doctor about taking certain supplements such as folic acid to keep any distressing symptoms at bay.