Can You Take Ferrous Sulphate in Pregnancy?

Normally, the human body gets iron needed from foods and diet. Certain types of food which are rich in iron include almonds, dried fruits, lentils, lean red meat, green leafy vegetables, etc. During pregnancy, the body’s needs for iron are increased and sometimes iron supplements are necessary. Ferrous sulphate is a type of iron supplement used for the treatment of iron-deficiency anemia. Then should you take ferrous sulphate during pregnancy?

Can You Take Ferrous Sulphate in Pregnancy?

Ferrous sulphate can be used in pregnancy, just when it is really needed. You should consult your doctor before taking any supplements during pregnancy, including ferrous sulphate. Your doctor will determine the amount and frequency of the supplements needed.

It is good to know that ferrous sulphate has not been assigned by FDA to a pregnancy category. Until today, there is no evidence of the teratogenicity of ferrous sulphate.

In general, iron is a safe supplement to use while pregnant. In cases when a CBC (complete blood count) test reveals an anemia, it should be treated, as anemia is a risk factor for preterm labor, low birth weight, etc. However, there are contradictive opinions when it comes to taking iron supplements during pregnancy in women who have no anemia. 

Do You Need to Take the Supplement?

You may need to take ferrous sulphate in pregnancy in case of iron-deficiency anemia. The signs and symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Poor concentration
  • Leg cramps
  • Pale lips
  • Pale inner eyelids
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Glossy tongue
  • Cracks in the corners of the mouth
  • Spoon-shaped nails

How Is Anemia Diagnosed?

During a prenatal appointment, your health care provider will determine and evaluate your overall health and perform a detailed physical examination. A complete blood count is routinely done in order to test for anemia. The levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit are determined as well.

In the first trimester of pregnancy and the third trimester of pregnancy, the hematocrit levels should not be lower than 33%, while the levels of hemoglobin should not be lower than 11 g/dL. In the second trimester, these values should not be lower than 32% for hematocrit and 10.5 g/dL for hemoglobin.

If anemia is determined from a blood test, follow-up examinations are required to check the iron deficiency and to evaluate the anemia as the pregnancy progresses.

How to Take Ferrous Sulphate in Pregnancy

If your doctor allows you to take ferrous sulphate during pregnancy, take it just as prescribed. Don’t take ferrous sulphate in higher doses or longer than your doctor recommended it. The dosage depends on the levels of anemia and usually about 325 mg of ferrous sulphate a day is recommended, divided into two or three doses a day. Make sure to take the medication at the same time every day, so you don’t skip a day. In general, about 4 to 6 months of treatment are required for anemia.

Tips for Taking Ferrous Sulphate

  • Iron is absorbed better on an empty stomach, so take ferrous sulphate about 1 hour before meals or about 2 hours after a meal. In cases when a stomach upset occurs, you can take ferrous sulphate with meals. Also, don’t take dairy products such as milk or yogurt, tea, coffee or antacids about 2 hours before taking ferrous sulphate.
  • Take ferrous sulphate tablets with a full glass of water. Avoid lying down for about 10 minutes after taking the tablets or capsules.
  • Swallow extended-release capsules as a whole and don’t crush or chew it. 
  • If your doctor prescribed you chewing tablets, make sure to chew them good before swallowing them.
  • If your doctor prescribed you a liquid suspension, make sure to shake the bottle well before taking it.

Watch For the Side Effects

Severe allergic reactions to ferrous sulphate are very rare. However, in cases of an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical help.

Other possible side effects following a treatment with ferrous sulphate in pregnancy include stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, etc. The stool can become black due to iron. However, these side effects are usually temporary and disappear as your body gets used to this supplement. If these side effects persist for a long period of time or if they tend to get worse, seek medical help. Maybe you should not take ferrous sulphate while pregnant and instead, your doctor can prescribe you another supplement for your anemia problem.

Boost Iron Level Naturally by Eating Iron-Rich Foods

Eating foods that are rich in iron is safer than taking iron supplements. The most easily absorbed source of iron is hem iron. Hem iron is commonly found in fish, red meat, and poultry. On the other hand, non-hem iron which is less easily absorbed by the organism is commonly found in legumes, vegetables, beans, etc.

Sources of Hem Iron








Iron Content

Chicken liver

3 ounces

12.8 mg

Lean beef

3 ounces

3.2 mg

Roasted chicken

3.5 ounces

1.3 mg


6 pieces

4.5 mg


¾ cup

3.0 mg

Sources of Non-Hem Iron








Boiled spinach

1 cup

6.4 mg

Boiled lentils

1 cup

6.6 mg

Boiled kidney beans

1 cup

5.2 mg


1 cup

3.4 mg


1 cup

1.5 mg


1 tbsp.

3.5 mg

Instant oatmeal

1 cup

10 mg

Iron-fortified cereals

¾ cup

18 mg

Certain foods also enhance the absorption of iron from the organism. Strawberries, peppers, orange juice or grapefruit should be included in your daily diet. Avoid consuming foods that interfere with iron absorption, such as coffee, tea, dairy products, soy products, etc. 

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