Iron, one of the vital nutrients is required for the proper growth of the fetus. Iron helps maintain the health of the mother as well. A healthy mother can give birth to a healthy baby without any complications. Iron deficiency anemia is common during pregnancy. A pregnant woman's body demands more iron and if the woman fails to consume more iron, she develops iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy.
Causes of Iron Deficiency during Pregnancy
The element iron plays an important role in making hemoglobin that carries oxygen to other cells. Iron is required for the growth of the baby and placenta. A pregnant woman's body has almost 50 percent more than usual amount of blood. As more blood is produced during pregnancy, a pregnant woman needs more iron. If the woman does not have enough iron to make hemoglobin as per demand, she becomes anemic. Those carrying twins, those suffering from severe morning sickness, those who have had two or more pregnancies close together, those who usually experience heavy menstruation, those who do not follow a healthy diet are more likely to suffer from iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Women with certain diseases and disorders, women with vitamin deficiencies should get their blood levels checked for iron content.
Symptoms of Low Iron
Blood tests performed at the beginning of pregnancy and again in the second half of pregnancy help detect anemia during pregnancy. Mild anemia may not exhibit any symptoms. But the pregnant woman might feel tired constantly. In case of increased fatigue and dizziness, you should consult your doctor immediately. Pale palms, pale and brittle fingernails, pale lips are some of the important low iron symptoms during pregnancy. The underside of your eyelids may also turn paler. Other symptoms of low iron are headache, rapid heartbeat, heart palpitations, breathing difficulty, increased irritability and difficulty in concentrating. Pregnant women, in case of sever anemia (less than 6g of hemoglobin per deciliter of blood) may experience chest pain. It is believed that anemia during pregnancy is responsible for the cravings for non-food substances such as ice, paper, or clay (a condition called pica).
How to Avoid Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency symptoms can be lowered by following a healthy diet and by taking iron supplements. If you are planning to get pregnant, you should check your blood iron levels. You should consult your doctor for food and supplements. Not only iron rich diet but a balanced diet is essential to have necessary amount of iron in the body. A diet rich in vitamin C helps absorb maximum amount of iron from the foods you consume. You should follow the instructions of your doctor regarding the dosage of the supplements. Iron overdose or excessive consumption of vitamins and minerals can lead to severe side effects. Overdose of iron pills during pregnancy may cause abdominal discomfort, constipation/diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, etc. They may also cause swelling of mouth, discoloring of teeth and skin rashes.
The amount of iron in your body can be raised with the help of a healthy diet. Increased intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dates, nuts, dry fruits, liver, kidney, clams, oysters, red meat, chicken, cockles, etc. helps prevent low iron during pregnancy. Minor changes in the diet can help avoid serious health hazards.