Anemia is a condition in which you have too few red blood cells, requiring your body to boost its iron stores to help produce them. You can become anemic if you don't get enough of this important mineral. In your pre-pregnancy state, you needed a daily dose of about 15 milligrams of iron. Thanks to your growing fetus, you now require about 30.
Your health care provider can spot anemia with a blood test, which she will perform at your first prenatal visit. Most women pass this initial check for iron deficiency with flying colors. In fact, the majority of expectant mothers start off pregnancy with enough iron stores to last until week 20. At that point in your pregnancy, your blood volume increases tremendously and with the increased volume often the hemoglobin (the chemical that carries the iron) in your blood drops.
Since the symptoms related to anemia often occur normally as a result of pregnancy, it is often not easily identified from symptoms alone. However, the symptoms that accompany anemia include: feeling very tired all the time, shortness of breath, dizziness, and exhaustion.
Women with severe nausea and vomiting early on in their pregnancy, carrying more than one baby, or an inadequate diet with no iron supplement, or women who have had another baby relatively recent to this pregnancy are all at higher risk for anemia.
Effective treatment for anemia is generally taking an iron supplement orally. Women who are unable to tolerate oral iron will be given iron through an intravenous infusion. Increasing the iron in your diet will also be encouraged. If the anemia is severe and was coupled with any kind of blood loss, then you might need a blood transfusion, but this is unusual.
Severe anemia increases the risk of problems in pregnancy, including prematurity, low birth weight, and stillbirth. Even mild anemia is risky for mothers, because all women lose a fair amount of blood at the time of delivery, and it’s not good to start out with low blood counts.
For the best outcomes, avoid anemia during pregnancy by taking your prenatal vitamins, as well as any iron supplements your health care provider recommends.
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