Anemia During Pregnancy

During pregnancy it is important to provide your baby with the building blocks to grow optimally. Unfortunately, there are always issues to resolve during that long nine months. One common issue that makes things difficult for pregnant women is anemia, which refers to a decrease in the amount of red blood cells and hemoglobin. Anemia during pregnancy is a relatively common finding, but you need to know how to deal with this situation to keep you and your baby on the safe side. Keep reading to learn more about anemia, its types, symptoms and some treatment options.

3 Main Types of Anemia While Pregnancy

It is not easy to find the exact cause of anemia, especially considering the fact that there are more than 400 different types of anemia. However, most expectant mothers deal with 3 most common types of anemia during pregnancy. Here's more about it:

1. Iron-Deficiency Anemia

It is the most common types of anemia in pregnancy in the U.S. and affects 15% to 25% of all pregnancies. Iron is an important part of your red blood cells and is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body. It also helps your muscles use and store oxygen. When your body isn't producing enough iron, you will have lowered resistance to infections and become fatigued.

2. Folate-Deficiency Anemia

Folate or folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a big role in preventing neural tube defects in unborn babies. Most doctors prescribe a folic acid supplement to pregnant women, but you can increase your folic acid levels in your body by eating fortified food such as leafy vegetables, cereals, melons, bananas and legumes. Without enough folic acid in your boy, the number of red blood cells will deplete and lead to anemia.

3. Vitamin B12–Deficiency Anemia

Your body needs vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells. It is important to eat food rich in vitamin B12, but it is equally important to check if your body is processing the vitamin or not. Vitamin B12 deficiency while pregnant will cause several health related issues, such as disabling, spinal bifida and other neural tube defects.

What Are the Symptoms of Anemia During Pregnancy?

You will experience some specific symptoms caused by anemia during pregnancy. The most common symptoms include trouble concentrating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness and pale skin, nails and lips. It is possible to not feel any symptoms during the early stages of anemia. Sometimes, the symptoms of anemia mimic the symptoms you usually experience in pregnancy even when you're not anemic. It is, therefore, a good idea to get routine blood tests to ensure your red blood cell count is up to the mark.

If you leave anemia untreated, you may end up dealing with certain issues. If you have anemia while pregnant, be sure to discuss it with your doctor and get prenatal care to avoid any complications.

  • Untreated iron-deficiency anemia may lead to complications such as giving birth to a baby with anemia, giving birth to a preterm baby or experiencing postpartum depression. Your child may also experience developmental delays.
  • Similarly, untreated folate-deficiency may increase your risk of having a baby with a birth defect of brain or spine.
  • Your baby may have neural tube defects if you don't treat your vitamin B12 deficiency in pregnancy.
  • Genetic anemia may also lead to several complications for the mother and her baby.

How to Deal With Anemia During Pregnancy

Once you know you have anemia during pregnancy, it is important to learn how to deal with it properly. Here's what you can do about your condition:

1. Get Enough Iron

You need to take enough iron during pregnancy to prevent anemia and treat it if you already have it. Stick to a well-balanced diet and add more iron-rich food to your diet. The list includes leafy, dark, green vegetables, lean red meat, fish, poultry, nuts and seeds, beans, tofu, lentils, eggs and iron-enriched grains and cereals.

2. Increase Your Folic Acid Level

To deal with anemia during pregnancy, you need to improve your folic acid levels. You need at least 400mcg of folic acid daily, so taking folic acid tablets daily may be the best way to provide your body with more folic acid. In rare cases, when folic acid levels are too low, your doctor may recommend receiving folic acid intravenously. You should also add foods high in folic acid to your diet – opt for spinach greens, pinto beans and oranges. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you decide to take any folic acid supplement.

3. Boost Your Vitamin B

Your doctor may recommend a vitamin B12 supplement to prevent and treat vitamin-B12 deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Adding animal foods to your diet will also help, so eat more of cheese, milk, eggs, meat and dairy products. Leafy green vegetables, fortified breads, and citrus fruits may also help. If you're a vegetarian, you should talk to your doctor about it, so they could prescribe a vitamin B12 supplement to replace the nutrients you need from animal sources. 

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