During pregnancy you can develop anemia or anemia because your blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues and baby, and during pregnancy your body produces more blood to support the your baby’s growth if you don’t get enough. iron or certain other nutrients, your body may not be able to produce the amount of red blood cells it needs to produce that extra blood, according to the “webmd” website.
It’s normal to have mild anemia during pregnancy, but you can have more severe anemia due to low iron or vitamin levels or for other reasons.
Anemia can cause you to feel tired and weak. If the condition is severe but untreated, it can increase the risk of serious complications such as preterm labor.
Types of anemia during pregnancy
Several types of anemia can occur during pregnancy. These include:
Anemia caused by folic acid deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Here is why these types of anemia develop:
Iron deficiency. This type of anemia occurs when the body does not have enough iron to produce adequate amounts of hemoglobin. It is a protein found in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
In iron deficiency anemia, the blood cannot carry enough oxygen to the tissues of the body.
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia during pregnancy.
Folic acid deficiency anemia is a vitamin found naturally in certain foods like green leafy vegetables. A type of B vitamin, the body needs folic acid to produce new cells, including healthy red blood cells.
During pregnancy, women need extra folic acid. But sometimes they don’t get enough from their feed. When this happens, the body cannot produce enough normal red blood cells to carry oxygen to tissues throughout the body.
Folic acid deficiency can directly contribute to certain types of birth defects, such as neural tube defects (spina bifida) and low birth weight.
Vitamin B12 deficiency. The body needs vitamin B12 to make healthy red blood cells. When a pregnant woman does not get enough vitamin B12 from her diet, her body cannot produce enough healthy red blood cells. Women who do not eat meat, poultry, dairy products and eggs are at higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, which can contribute to birth defects, such as neural tube defects, and can lead to a premature birth.
Symptoms of anemia during pregnancy
The most common symptoms of anemia during pregnancy are:
Pale skin, lips and nails
feeling tired or weak
Shortness of breath
In the early stages of anemia, you may not have any obvious symptoms. Many of the symptoms are those you might have during pregnancy, even if you weren’t anemic. So be sure to have routine blood tests to check for anemia at your antenatal appointments.
Treatment of anemia
If you develop anemia during pregnancy, you may need to start taking an iron supplement and/or a folic acid supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamins.
Your doctor may also suggest adding more foods rich in iron and folic acid to your diet.
Additionally, you will be asked to return for another blood test after a set period of time so that your doctor can check that your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels have improved.
To treat vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor may recommend that you take a vitamin B12 supplement.
The doctor may also recommend that you include more animal foods in your diet, such as:
Prevention of anemia
To prevent anemia during pregnancy, make sure you get enough iron, eat well-balanced meals, and add more iron-rich foods to your diet.
At least three servings a day of iron-rich foods, such as:
– Lean red meat, poultry and fish
Dark green leafy vegetables (like spinach, broccoli, and kale)
– Beans and lentils
Nuts and seeds
Foods rich in vitamin C can help your body absorb more iron.
Citrus and juice
Try to eat these foods at the same time as you eat iron-rich foods. For example, you can drink a glass of orange juice and eat an iron-fortified cereal for breakfast.
Also choose foods high in folic acid to help prevent folic acid deficiency. These include:
Green leafy vegetables
Citrus and juice
Bread and cereals fortified with folic acid
Follow your doctor’s instructions about taking a prenatal vitamin that contains enough iron and folic acid.
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