Anemia is when your blood has too few red blood cells. Having too few red blood cells makes it harder for your blood to carry oxygen or iron. This can affect how cells work in nerves and muscles. During pregnancy, your baby also needs your blood.
You can get several kinds of anemia during pregnancy. These are:
Women are more likely to get anemia during pregnancy if they:
Women are more likely to get iron-deficiency anemia in pregnancy if they:
You can get several kinds of anemia during pregnancy. The cause varies based on the type.
You may not have clear symptoms of anemia during pregnancy unless your cell counts are very low. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of anemia can be like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will check for anemia during your prenatal exams. It is usually found during a routine blood test. Other ways to check for anemia may include other blood tests such as:
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment based on:
Treatment for iron deficiency anemia includes taking iron supplements. Some forms are time-released. Others must be taken several times each day. Taking iron with a citrus juice such as orange can help your body take it in. Taking antacids may make it harder for your body to take in iron. Iron supplements may cause nausea and cause stools to become dark greenish or black in color. They may also cause constipation.
Good pre-pregnancy nutrition not only helps prevent anemia, but also helps build other nutritional stores in your body. Eating a healthy, balanced diet before and during pregnancy helps keep up your levels of iron and other important nutrients needed for your growing baby.
Good food sources of iron include:
Experts recommend all women of childbearing age and all women who are pregnant take vitamin supplements with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Folate is the form of folic acid found in food. Good sources are: