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What Is Anemia?


Iron deficiency anemia can develop when the blood is short of hemoglobin.

The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If there's not enough iron, too little hemoglobin is produced, which means the organs don't get enough oxygen.

Moms-to-be often become anemic – usually in the third trimester of pregnancy – because of the increased demand on their bodies from their growing babies for iron and other vitamins.

You're more susceptible to anemia if you've had several pregnancies close together, if you suffered with heavy periods before becoming pregnant or if you are vegetarian.

What are the symptoms of Anemia?

The main symptoms are overwhelming tiredness and a lack of energy. If the anemia is severe, you might notice palpitations (when your heart skips a beat or two), breathlessness and dizziness, although these symptoms are fairly rare. You should contact your midwife, obstetrician or GP if you have any of the symptoms of anemia.

What are the treatments and remedies of Anemia?

You can help yourself by increasing the amount of iron in your diet. Foods that are rich in iron include red meat (but avoid liver because this contains high levels of retinol, the animal form of vitamin A, and this can harm the baby); leafy greens, wholemeal breads, fortified cereals, leafy green veg and dried fruit.

Eating more iron-rich foods might not be enough on its own to bring your levels up sufficiently, though, and some expectant moms are prescribed iron tablets to take. An unfortunate side-effect of taking these tablets can be constipation, so if you're prescribed iron, try to step up the amount of fluids you drink, as well as exercising a bit more and eating more fiber. If you're given iron tablets, you'll have blood tests at intervals to check whether your iron levels are coming up adequately.

This guide

This article is not meant to substitute medical advice provided by a practicing medical professional - if you have any concerns, contact your physician immediately.

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