Pregnancy is a time of a great deal of joy and an equal amount of change. If, on your most recent visit to the doctor, you had a discussion about anemia in pregnancy, then you're probably looking for some simple ways to be a good guardian of your iron levels.
"Anemia" literally means lacking in blood. In pregnancy, there's more blood than usual in your body. Beginning in the second trimester, a mom-to-be's body starts making extra blood. As a result, the growing baby is brought the oxygen he or she needs to breathe, and any blood loss during birth will be less traumatic for mom. This extra blood is sometimes said to be the source of the pregnancy "glow." With all that extra blood, it becomes even more important to have enough iron around to prevent anemia.
Your doctor may have recommended iron supplements to treat or prevent anemia in pregnancy. Take them if recommended, but no more than 45 mg per day, according to MedlinePlus. Keep in mind that iron supplements can sometimes turn your stool black. This is an expected side effect, but let your doctor know if there are other changes in smell, texture or amount; those may not be related to the supplements and should be communicated right away. Mild stomach discomfort can be alleviated by taking your iron pills with food. This is a good idea anyway because most food helps your body absorb iron. Be sure to avoid taking your iron pills with milk products, calcium supplements, and soy, as these block the absorption of iron and make taking those pills an exercise in futility.
Vitamins A and C
Other vitamins can come to the aid of your body's attempt to absorb iron, especially C and A. Vitamin A is found in fruits and vegetables. Check the label of your prenatal vitamin to see if A is included, look at your diet for the past year, and then talk to your doctor about whether or not to add a low daily dose of vitamin A to your anemia regimen. If you had enough vitamin A to begin with, you are probably ok. Similarly, most people with healthy diets don't need extra vitamin C, according to MedlinePlus. If you're already taking prenatal vitamins, you are likely already receiving a full daily dose of vitamin C.
Getting these essential vitamins as part of your regular diet, in addition to in supplement form, is also important. At breakfast, oatmeal, raisins, and citrus juices are good choices. Cereals fortified with iron may contain up to 12 milligrams per serving. Adding dark green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, can boost the iron content of your midday meal. Potatoes with the skin on, fortified pasta, meat, and many kinds of beans can definitely pump up your iron levels. For dessert, dried fruits, especially apricots, fresh raspberries, and fresh strawberries can sweeten the deal and help stave off anemia. Some of these foods also provide folic acid, which is necessary for your growing baby's brain and nervous system.
With a good diet, a good relationship with your doctor, and a good understanding of the forces at work in your body, these simple steps should help relieve your low blood-iron levels, keep your energy high, and keep your pregnancy healthy and progressing marvelously.