Anemia in Pregnancy

You can develop anemia, while being pregnant. In anemia, your blood does not have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your baby and your tissues. During pregnancy, your body produces more blood to support the baby’s growth. Lack of iron causes the deficiency of red blood cells. These red blood cells are needed to produce additional blood during pregnancy. The additional blood supply is required during pregnancy for your baby.

Causes of anemia in pregnancy

Your body uses iron to produce haemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen to your tissues. During pregnancy, the volume of blood in your body grows. Hence, you need more iron. Your body uses iron to produce extra blood to offer oxygen to your baby. If you do not have adequate iron storage or obtain enough iron during pregnancy, you might get iron deficiency or Anemia.

There is an increased risk in developing anemia, during your pregnancy, if:

  1. You are pregnant with more than one baby
  2. Have heavy pre-pregnancy menstrual flow
  3. You do not consume iron-rich foods
  4. Vomiting more frequently due to morning sickness
  5. have history of anemia before pregnancy

Anemia tests

You are required to do a blood test during your first prenatal appointment. This blood test helps in checking whether you have anemia or not. The blood tests include:

  1. Hemoglobin test: This test measures the amount of haemoglobin. It also checks the red blood cells in your blood.
  2. Haematocrit test: This test measures the percentage of red blood cells in a sample of your blood.

If your haemoglobin or haematocrit is lower than normal levels you have Anemia. However, your doctor may advice you to conduct some more tests to ensure that you have Anemia. You may have to take some more blood test during the 2nd and 3rd trimester as well.

Risk Factors

Iron- deficiency or Anemia during pregnancy can give way to various other problems such as:

  1. Low birth weight baby (preterm)
  2. Postpartum depression
  3. Baby with anemia
  4. Development delay in you baby

Folate deficiency, untreated can increase the risk of:

  1. Preterm
  2. Defects in spine or brain of the baby (neural tube defects)

Vitamin B12 deficiency, if untreated can increase the risk of having your baby with neural tube defects as well.

Types of Anemia during the pregnancy

Different types of anemia can develop pregnancy, these include:

  1. Iron deficiency anemia: When your body does not produce sufficient amount of haemoglobin. Iron deficiency anemia blood cannot carry the required amount of oxygen to your baby. 
  2. Folate deficiency anemia: During pregnancy, you need more than normal amount of folate. You might not get the appropriate amount of folate in your diet. Because of this enough oxygen is not reachable to your tissues.
  3. Vitamin B12 deficiency: To form healthy red blood cells, vitamin B12 is a must. If you do not consume meat, poultry, dairy products, or eggs are more likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency, which may contribute to birth deformities such as neural tube abnormalities and may result in premature labor.

How to prevent Anemia during pregnancy?

You can prevent Anemia during your pregnancy. Just make sure you get the right amount of iron. You can obtain this by having a healthy, high in iron, balanced diet.

Have food which are rich in iron at least thrice a day. These foods are:

  1. Beans, lentils
  2. Tofu
  3. Eggs
  4. Nuts and seeds
  5. Dark green leafy vegetables
  6. Lean red meat
  7. Fish

Your body can absorb more iron, if you eat foods which are high in vitamin C. These include:

  1. Kiwis
  2. Strawberries
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Bell peppers
  5. Citrus fruits
  6. Citrus juices

To prevent folate deficiency, try eating foods which are high in folate. These include:

  1. Dried beans
  2. Breads with folic acid
  3. Cereals fortified with folic acid
  4. Green leafy vegetables

You can always visit your doctors, to know more man-made supplements and other medications. Visit for more information on Anemia during pregnancy and other health issues. Book a tele-appointment with the doctor for personal consultation.

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