About 20 per cent of pregnant women suffer from anaemia that occurs when levels of haemoglobin, the pigment in the blood which transports oxygen around the body, fall below normal. During pregnancy the amount of blood in your body increases 30-50 per cent to nourish and supply the baby with oxygen. Iron is essential for production of haemoglobin and assists protein digestion and respiratory function.
The usual test for iron levels is blood although this is not be entirely accurate as often the body will draw from its sources in the tissues and bone to maintain the amount of blood in circulation. Symptoms of anaemia may include dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath on exertion, pallor, headaches mental confusion, poor memory and fatigue. In the foetus, iron deficiency has been linked to eye defects, slow growth, bone defects and neonatal mortality.
- You are at greater risk if you have a poor diet, excessive morning sickness, had several babies close together or have a multiple pregnancy.
- Blood donors are not advised to give blood when planning a pregnancy.
- Always eat breakfast.
- Increase your intake of iron by eating lentils, beans, nuts,dark molasses, eggs, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, kelp, fortified cereals, wholegrains, wheatgerm, almonds, parsley, dried fruit especially apricots, raisins and prunes.
- Increasing your Vitamin C intake aids the absorption of iron.
- Avoid fatty and sugary foods.
- Raspberry leaf and nettle teas are source of easily assimilated iron.
- Avoid coffee, cigarettes and alcohol as these interfere with iron absorption.
- Drink freshly squeezed beetroot juice (blend with carrot, apple and ginger)
- Conserve energy where possible.
- Stimulate acupuncture and acupressure point St 36. (Preconception and post natal only. Avoid this point during pregnancy).
- Homeopathic remedy Ferrum Magneticum 9c.