Maternal Iron Deficiency: Understanding the adverse effect of anaemia in pregnancy

Suffering from anaemia during pregnancy? Read on to know how maternal iron deficiency affects the health of the mother and the baby.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common and widespread blood-related conditions in the world. It is a serious health problem that particularly affects young children and pregnant women. It is also known as anaemia. According to the World Health Organization, Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or the haemoglobin concentration becomes lower than normal. Haemoglobin is the protein in your red blood cells that helps to carry oxygen to the tissues. While every pregnancy is different, some pregnant women may experience anaemia. Mild anaemia may make expecting mothers tired. But it can have detrimental effects if left untreated. Understanding the problem may help you combat it properly.

What causes anaemia in pregnancy?

Most expecting mothers experience mild anaemia during pregnancy. But you need to consult a doctor even if the condition is mild. If left untreated, it can be dangerous for you and your baby. A lack of red blood cells in the system can interfere with the supply of oxygen to different parts of the body. This problem can affect your organs and hamper the normal functioning of your body.

When you are pregnant, your body works harder to provide essential nutrients to the developing baby. This process also requires a proper transportation of oxygen to different parts of the body. When it is interrupted, it can lead to premature birth and low birth weight for your baby. In severe cases, it can cause maternal mortality.

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Ways to prevent it

There are some effective ways to prevent anaemia if the problem is not too severe.

Iron supplements

Expecting mothers require at least 27 milligrams of iron daily. In case you have iron deficiency, your doctor may recommend eating more than that. Talk to your doctor before taking any iron supplements. You should avoid eating foods such as coffee/tea and raw eggs as they can prevent your body from properly absorbing the iron.

Prenatal vitamins

Along with iron supplements, your doctor will also give you some prenatal vitamins to eat at least once a day. These supplements will help you get the required amount of vitamins and minerals for sufficient red blood production.

Eating the right foods

Include foods rich in iron and folic acid to meet the daily requirement of this mineral. Poultry, fish, lean red meat, beans, nuts and seeds, leafy vegetables, fruits like bananas and melons are good sources of iron. Make sure to check with your doctor for any allergies or other health complications.

Symptoms of anaemia

You might not have any symptoms in case of mild anaemia. However, you may experience the following symptoms in moderate or severe conditions.

  • Paleness
  • Fatigue or feeling weak
  • Lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Having weird cravings

There are chances that you might not experience any of these symptoms. So, the best way is to get a blood test to determine the levels of iron in the body. Don't attempt to diagnose it yourself or misusing any supplements. Seek professional advice before taking the next step.

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