Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnant Women

Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnant Women

  Autor NN Team Data: 18.03.2009

Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnant Women
According to the nutritional studies in our countries, half of the pregnant women are affected by an iron deficiency anemia, meaning that the hemoglobin decreases under 11g/l, because of iron lack. 

The hemoglobin is a protein found in the blood red cells and which is responsible for the transport of oxygen to the cells and to the body tissues. In order to produce this protein, the body needs iron. If this lacks, the red cells will be less and smaller and they won't receive enough oxygen. 

The iron needs of the body are bigger during pregnancy. The iron is needed both by the fetus and by the mother's blood whose volume increases with 50%. Unfortunately, when women get pregnant, many of them don't have enough iron reserves in the body. The risks to develop anemia is higher in women with nausea and vomiting, with multiple pregnancy, in women without a diet rich in iron and who used to have a heavy menstruation before getting pregnant. 

The iron intake is necessary because the anemic mothers have more chances to give birth to premature or post-term babies who will suffer from anemia at a few months of life. The birth process might also get complicated. An anemic mother who losses much blood at birth won't be able to recover by herself and needs transfusions. 

Ideally, a pregnant woman should have a diet rich in iron which ensures her a sufficient quantity of iron. But this is harder to get, so the doctor will prescribe an iron supplement most often. Starting with the fourth month of pregnancy, all women should receive 30-60 mg of iron daily. Anemic women receive more, about 60-80 mg. The exact dose must be established with the doctor, after doing some tests which will detect the level of iron in the blood. 

We must mention that iron excess is not good also. A too much quantity of iron may lead to digestive severe problems. We are talking about constipation, diarrhea or both of them alternatively, associated with nausea and/or vomiting. Constipation is already a problem for many pregnant women, so excessive iron would make the situation worse. 

If the iron dose has been established by the doctor and you still have problems regarding the supplement, try to prevent the side effects with natural methods. Try prunes for example for constipation, or a combination of fibers (apples, oatmeal) and water. If the problem lasts, ask for the doctor's advice. If you have problems with the constipation, ask the doctor to prescribe a small dose of iron first, and then he will gradually increase it, allowing the body to get used to it. You may also try a supplement with gradual use, or to take the pill in the evening before going to bed. Although it has some unpleasant side effects, the benefits of iron are too many and too important to put the supplement aside. 

Besides using the supplements, a diet rich in iron is useful. Especially if the pills cause digestive problems to you, try to gain some more iron from food and try taking less pills. The red meat is the best choice regarding this. But chicken is also a good source of iron. Don't forget about beans, tofu, raisins, dates, prunes, potatoes (boiled with their peel), broccoli, vegetables with green leaves (spinach), wholegrain bread. 

The liver also contains much iron, but it is not a recommended source during pregnancy because it has a high content of vitamin A which might cause malformations. 

Besides food rich in iron, include the ones which help you absorb the iron in your diet too. If you eat something rich in vitamin C while eating foods with much iron, the body will absorb the iron faster. Take the iron pill with orange juice (homemade), with tomatoes or grapefruit juice. 

At the same time, you must know that foods rich in calcium or calcium supplements prevent the efficient iron absorption. Therefore, you should not take the iron pill together with the calcium one, and you should not eat milk and yogurt with foods rich in iron at the same meal. 

Of course you also need much calcium but you must not consume it at anothermeal.

The ideal daily diet of a pregnant woman must contain 100-150 g of meat, one liter of milk and 100-200 g of cheese, 400 g of vegetables, 400 g of different fruits and an egg. 

Read the English version of this article: Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnant Women