Anaemia in pregnancy can commonly develop due to the demands of the growing pregnancy, and can be caused by a deficiency of iron in the diet.
Pregnant mothers are tested (blood test) usually at booking and again around 28 weeks of pregnancy, and these levels are used to shape care and advice.
Symptoms of anaemia can include tiredness and paleness of colour – breathlessness too on exercise – but essentially it can be common to feel tired in pregnancy due to the demands on the body so a chat with your midwife or GP to talk through any concerns you have is important.
Diet plays a key part – that saying “we are what we eat” is oh so true!
For my clients I always take a thorough history as well as review of blood tests results, and take the time to discuss in detail their diet – such as number of meals a day, home cooked meals from ingredients as fresh/ close to the source, food restrictions or avoidances, choices and intolerances.
If you eat very healthily and enjoy a full range of foods then supplements may not be necessary. I counsel women too regarding maximising the absorbency of iron from their diet/supplements if they are required. One simple trick is to increase vitamin C intake as this has been shown to improve the absorbency of iron.
If iron supplements are required it is important to have a repeat blood test 2 weeks after commencing the supplement, to ensure that the iron levels are improving.
I also counsel women regarding the unpleasant side effects of iron as these can come as a surprise, and deter women from continuing with the iron. It is important to find an iron supplement that “suits you” so if clients struggle with one type, I recommend another to try until one is found that is tolerable.