Anemia in pregnancy can be avoided! What to know

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One of the most important changes in the body during pregnancy refers to the increase by 20% – 30% of the amount of blood in the body, which determines the supplementation with iron and vitamins for the production of hemoglobin. If the necessary nutrients are not provided, you risk suffering from anemia in pregnancy.

Hemoglobin is a protein in red cells that carries oxygen to other cells in the body. If a sufficient amount of hemoglobin is not produced, due to iron deficiency, the body can suffer from mild or severe anemia. Mild anemia is common in pregnancy and is caused by the increase in blood volume in the body. The severe form, however, can disrupt the health of both the pregnant woman and the child, who can become anemic in childhood.

Careful, if you suffer from anemia in the first 2 trimesters of pregnancy, the risk of giving birth prematurely or giving birth to a low birth weight baby increases!

Good to know!

Anemia in pregnancy can stimulate the loss of a greater amount of blood at birth and the appearance of problems in combating possible infections.

Which pregnant women are at risk

You are at risk of facing anemia if you have at least 2 completed pregnancies, you are pregnant with more than one child, you often vomit, you do not consume enough iron-rich foods, you lose a large amount of blood during your menstrual cycle.

You must know that many of the symptoms that accompany anemia in pregnancy can be confused with other conditions. For example, it can be about the state of fatigue or weakness, pallor of the face, accelerated heart rate, breathing disorders, problems with the power of concentration.

Analyzes that detect it

Depending on the progress of the pregnancy, the doctor may request blood tests to check the level of hemoglobin in the body and the amount of blood cells. If abnormalities appear as a result of the tests, the doctor supervising the pregnancy may also request tests to check the iron, vitamin B12 and folate levels. Also, genetic tests can be recommended, if the presence of disorders is suspected, such as thalassemia – serious hereditary anemia.

That’s how you prevent it!

The main preventive measure in case of anemia is to provide the body with a sufficient amount of iron. Iron is the element that forms the basis of hemoglobin. Daily, the body needs 1-4 mg of this essential mineral. During pregnancy, iron manufactures much more hemoglobin, which is necessary for the placenta and fetus. Therefore, a pregnant woman needs more iron, more precisely at least 5 mg in the first two trimesters of pregnancy and approximately 10 – 11 mg of iron until birth. If it is not obtained in sufficient quantities from food, the body directs the production of hemoglobin towards the fetus at the expense of its own needs. In this case, the pregnant woman ends up suffering from anemia.

Get your iron from food

There are 2 types of iron: heminic and nonheminic, which are absorbed differently in the body. Meat contains heme iron, while the non-heme form is present in vegetables: beans, spinach, peas, lentils, raisins, almonds, nuts and seeds. It is good to know that hemin iron is better absorbed by the body (25%) compared to the non-hemin variant (1-5%). Liver should be avoided, as it contains high levels of vitamin A. This vitamin, if consumed in excess, can increase the risk of birth defects in the fetus, especially if you also take supplements. You can help the body better absorb iron from food by avoiding drinking green tea before or after meals: the tannin in tea blocks the assimilation of iron and other minerals, such as calcium. If the investigations reveal that you have anemia, you may be recommended iron supplements administered with vitamin C, on an empty stomach, so that absorption is more efficient.

Expert advice

Dr. Livia Manta, gynecologist-obstetrician, “Alfred Rusescu” Mother and Child Protection Institute, Bucharest

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Anemia in pregnancy occurs as a result of the consumption of the reserve of the human body by the fetus, but also due to hemodilution. The physiological level of hemoglobin in pregnancy is lower due to retained water and maternal hemodilution, which occurs from the 2nd trimester. In pregnancy, a level of 11g/dl is considered anemia, and in a normal state, below 12g/dl. Therefore, a diet rich in iron is necessary – red meat is irreplaceable – and folates (green vegetables, fruits, salad). Iron supplementation is done up to 6 weeks after birth, because the hemoglobin level increases in about 2 months of supplementation, not immediately. Then, the iron deposits must also be restored.