A new ailment!
To add just one more ailment to the laundry list of pregnancy symptoms: iron deficiency. When you are pregnant, the chance that you have an iron deficiency is greater. To make things even more confusing, the symptoms you suffer from with an iron deficiency are similar to regular pregnancy ailments: you are tired, feel faint, and occasionally dizzy. Fortunately, you can prevent iron deficiency during pregnancy. When it is already too late and you are running with an iron deficiency, you can also supplement this deficiency.
What does an iron deficiency mean when you are pregnant?
As the name implies, iron deficiency means that the level of iron in your body is too low. This in turn affects the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin, for which iron is enormously important. Chances are you're wondering what hemoglobin is. Hemoglobin is a protein in your blood, and its function is to transport oxygen from your lungs to the other parts of your body. For exactly this reason, you always have a supply of iron in your body. As a pregnant woman, you have a greater chance of getting an iron deficiency. This is absolutely not a myth! During your pregnancy, your body produces 50% more blood than normal because it has to transport a lot of blood to the placenta and the baby. Therefore, pregnant women often have a lower hemoglobin level.
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, and restless legs are symptoms of iron deficiency. That's not to mention pale skin and a slippery tongue. In extreme cases, this can even be accompanied by difficulty swallowing. Do these symptoms look familiar to you? Then it's a good idea to have your blood tested for iron deficiency so that, if indeed you have an iron deficiency, it can be replenished as quickly as possible to prevent unpleasant consequences.
In the twelfth week of your pregnancy, you will get a blood test anyway, which will also look at your iron level. Have you already had this blood test and found your iron level to be fine, but do you recognize symptoms of an iron deficiency later in your pregnancy? Then it certainly won't hurt to have your blood tested again specifically for iron deficiency.
Consequences of iron deficiency during pregnancy
Iron deficiency during pregnancy is accompanied by unpleasant symptoms, which can resemble regular pregnancy ailments. As if that weren't unpleasant enough, severe iron deficiency can lead to anemia, also known as anemia. You have anemia when your blood contains too few red blood cells, or when these red blood cells are not made up of enough hemoglobin. As mentioned, iron is enormously important for producing hemoglobin. This immediately explains why an iron deficiency can lead to anemia.
A mild form of anemia is not that dangerous (apart from being annoying). Do you walk around with it longer? Then it can result in low birth weight and even premature birth of the baby. It also increases the likelihood that your baby himself will suffer from an iron deficiency at a young age. Whether there are any risks for you as a mommy to be? Yes, because you are more susceptible to infections. All things you definitely want to avoid.
Supplementing iron deficiency during pregnancy
If you have a blood test and the results indicate that you have an iron deficiency, the doctor will look at your personal situation and decide how best to supplement your iron deficiency. You will probably be advised to add foods rich in iron to your meals. Do you have a serious iron deficiency? Then this may not be enough and your doctor will recommend that you supplement your iron deficiency with iron capsules, drinks, elixirs, or tablets. It is important to always do this in consultation with your doctor or midwife, as many iron supplements cannot be taken without risk during pregnancy.
Preventing iron deficiency: food with high iron content
It probably won't sound crazy to you when I say that prevention is always better than treatment (or in this case, supplementation). You can prevent iron deficiency and its unpleasant consequences by consuming enough iron-rich foods during your pregnancy. Do you have an iron deficiency? Then it's a good idea to pay attention to your diet, in addition to the iron supplements you're prescribed, so that you get enough iron through your diet. You probably know that certain foods have high iron content. Unfortunately, a lot of food has to be avoided during your pregnancy (or at least only eaten in moderation). Since there are of course enough things for you to look into, we have done the preliminary work and selected a few pregnant-proof foods with a high iron content!
- Vegetables: legumes, broccoli, spinach, radishes, chard
- Dried fruits: dates, figs, and raisins
- Fresh fruit: blackcurrants, apricots, peaches, and plums
- Nuts, egg, tofu, seeds
- Grain products, especially whole-grain products
- Meat, fish, and poultry, including chicken