How to Avoid Anemia During Pregnancy

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AnemiaYou don’t have to be told that when you’re pregnant your body goes through many changes. That’s pretty obvious, right? What you may not realize is that your body is also busy making more blood—about 50% more blood, in fact. And this increase in blood volume means the need for more iron. Iron is necessary for making hemoglobin, the part of your blood that transports oxygen from your lungs to your body’s tissues.

If your body is low in iron, you become anemic, and anemia can cause poor fetal growth, preterm birth, and low birth weight. Unfortunately, women who develop anemic during their pregnancy don’t even realize it since one of the primary symptoms—fatigue—is something they’re already feeling quite a bit. If you feel weak, dizzy, or have shortness of breath, anemia may be to blame. Left untreated, anemia can cause complications during labor, delivery and recovery.

Fortunately, you can take certain precautions through diet and nutrition to avoid iron deficiency anemia while you’re pregnant. Eating the right foods helps you maintain adequate iron levels and prevent or even reverse anemia.

Eat Foods Rich in Iron. The best food sources for iron intake include the following:

  • Meat, Poultry, and Fish (e.g. beef, chicken, and sardines)
  • Leafy Greens (e.g. brussels sprouts, kale, and spinach)
  • Fruits (e.g. apples, pears, black grapes, and plums)
  • Legumes and Beans (e.g. lima beans, peas, and pinto beans)
  • Iron-Enriched Breads and Cereals (e.g. whole-wheat bread and oatmeal)

Eat Foods that Help your Body Absorb Iron. In addition to eating foods rich in iron, you’ll also want to consume more foods rich in Vitamin C since it helps your body absorb the iron. Try to eat all of your iron-rich foods (especially the plant based ones) with the following:

  • Orange Juice
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Melons
  • Broccoli

Consider Supplements and Herbs. If you’re looking for additional ways to increase your iron, you may want to consider herbal sources and iron supplements. Some natural options include:

  • Nettles and Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
  • Seaweed (Kelp powder)
  • Yellow Dock root or Dandelion root
  • Non-Sulfate Iron Supplements
  • Homeopathic remedies like ferrum metallicum or ferrum phosphoricum

Your naturopathic doctor or homeopath should also be able to suggest those recommended and safe to take during pregnancy.

Other Suggestions for Preventing Anemia in Pregnancy:

  1.  Eat foods raw (except meat) since cooking can destroy the iron content by almost half.
  2.  When you do cook, use cast iron pots which transfer iron to the foods cooked.
  3.  Avoid coffee, smoking, and alcohol, which inhibit iron absorption.
  4.  Exercise for a half-hour five times weekly to stimulate your body’s use of nutrients that raise hemoglobin.

Be aware of your body during pregnancy and keep an eye out for symptoms that point to anemia. Although it takes extra effort to ensure you’re getting the necessary amount of iron, it’s worth avoiding the nasty effects of anemia. Prevention is always recommended over treatment so do your best to eat not just those veggies, but also lean meats, fruits, and beans. You’ll keep your iron levels up where they need to be and enjoy a healthy pregnancy, labor and birth!