Are You Getting Enough Iron?

by Judith E. Beckett, R.N.

Iron deficiency anemia is a serious complication of pregnancy that is usually caused by too little iron in your diet. While it is normal to feel tired during the first three months of your pregnancy, if you feel tired all the time, look pale and feel weak, catch colds and other infections easily, or are not gaining enough weight, iron deficiency could be the reason. Have your midwife, doctor, or nurse practitioner draw a sample of your blood to test your hemoglobin and hematocrit. These tests are normally run in the first and fourth months of pregnancy even if anemia is not suspected.

While you are pregnant, you will need more iron than at any other time in your life. You must manufacture enough blood to carry all the oxygen and all the nutrients to your baby that she needs to grow. In addition, your body must develop your baby’s own blood supply. Finally, your baby needs to store up enough iron in her body to last until she can take in solid food. By the end of your pregnancy, your heart will be pumping almost twice as much blood around your body as before.

VeggiesEat foods rich in iron. They include lean red meat, liver, sardines, whole grain breads, whole grain cereal, peanut butter, dark green vegetables, beans (including tofu), dried fruits, eggs, converted rice or brown rice, and enriched spaghetti and macaroni. Add foods that are high in vitamin C to help your body to use the iron you take in. Foods with lots of vitamin C include oranges and orange juice, grapefruit and grapefruit juice, apple juice with added vitamin C, tomatoes and tomato juice, raw cabbage, green pepper, broccoli, new potatoes, cauliflower, turnips, melons like watermelon and cantaloupe, and strawberries. Try sprinkling lemon on your broccoli or add sliced strawberries to your peanut butter sandwich. On the other hand, avoid foods that make it harder for your body to use iron such as coffee, tea and bran.

Your prenatal vitamin should contain at least 30 mgms of iron. Additional iron may be prescribed if you are anemic. Iron pills can cause nausea and constipation. Eating a varied diet rich in nutrients - including iron - promotes normal bowel function. To grow a healthy baby from scratch, make sure you are getting enough iron.

Information published on The Rainbow Babies website is not a substitute for proper medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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