Anemia and Pregnancy: What You Need To Know

Anemia and Pregnancy: What You Need To Know

Mar 10, 2023Sanguina Inc

Editor’s Note: This article is for informational purposes only. You should not use it to replace any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any health issues. Any questions about your blood health should be directed toward a physician, hematologist, or other licensed healthcare professional.

Pregnancy and anemia can be a tricky mix, but recognizing the early warning signs of this disorder helps keep your hemoglobin levels under control. With a changing body and growing baby, it’s understandable that pregnancy can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to tackle anemia all by yourself. This common issue affects many expecting moms.

Taking the necessary action to combat it is key. According to the American Pregnancy Association, iron intake should increase during this season of life because 1 in 4 women suffer from low levels of hemoglobin. Be sure that your diet and lifestyle reflect this awareness; healthy steps now will make all the difference later on.

Symptoms of Anemia during Pregnancy

Symptoms of anemia in pregnancy can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Mild anemia may cause no symptoms at all for some women, while other women with more severe anemia may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

Causes of Anemia in Pregnancy

There are several causes of anemia in pregnancy, including blood loss, poor nutrition, folate deficiency, and sickle cell disease. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia for women, and it can occur due to blood loss during menstruation or from inadequate iron intake. Pregnancy is a common cause of anemia, as the growing fetus requires more oxygen than the mother’s body can provide.

Folate deficiency can also cause anemia in pregnancy, and it occurs when the body does not have enough folate, a vitamin that helps the body make new cells. These deficiencies are more common in women who are vegetarian or have certain medical conditions. Chronic diseases such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia can also cause anemia in pregnancy.

Risks and Complications Associated with Anemia in Pregnancy

Anemia in pregnancy poses risks for both the mother and the developing baby. For the mother, anemia can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness, which increases the risks for accidents and falls. For the baby, anemia can lead to low birth weight, premature birth, and congenital anomalies. If left untreated, severe anemia can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby. Additionally, anemic mothers are at increased risk for heart problems, postpartum hemorrhage, and postpartum depression.

Diagnosis of Anemia in Pregnancy

Anemia in pregnancy is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, laboratory testing, and imaging studies. Physical examination may reveal signs of pallor or fatigue. Laboratory testing will usually reveal a low hemoglobin level. Imaging studies such as ultrasounds may be used to assess the baby’s growth and development.

If you’re pregnant and think you might have anemia, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test.

Tips to Prevent Anemia

There are several things that pregnant mothers can do to prevent anemia, including taking a daily multivitamin that contains iron, eating foods that are rich in iron such as red meat and dark leafy greens, and avoiding foods that contain high levels of phytates such as whole grains and legumes.

Expectant mothers should ensure they’re getting enough iron. Mayo Clinic’s suggested intake of this vital nutrient is at least 27 milligrams a day to help support the growth and development of the baby during pregnancy. How can you ensure you get enough iron during pregnancy? Find out what types of food to avoid if you’re anemic, and the types of food that are high in iron content.

Treatment of Anemia in Pregnancy

The treatment for anemia in pregnancy depends on the underlying cause, but it typically involves iron supplementation and close monitoring of the mother and baby. If anemia is caused by iron deficiency, treatment may involve taking iron supplements or eating foods that are rich in iron. If anemia is caused by folate or vitamin B12 deficiency, taking supplements or getting injections of these vitamins may be recommended. In severe cases, blood transfusions may be necessary.

Make Sure Mom and Baby Stay Healthy with AnemoCheck

Healthy mamas and their babies deserve the best! If you’re expecting a little bundle of joy, it’s essential to watch out for the signs of anemia. AnemoCheck is an innovative tool that instantly allows expectant mothers to easily measure their hemoglobin levels in-home throughout this special journey. Keep your pregnancy healthy with this in-home regular monitoring, without the need for appointments or needles!

Lozoff, B., Beard, J., Connor, J., Barbara, F., Georgieff, M., & Schallert, T. (2006). Long-lasting neural and behavioral effects of iron deficiency in infancy. Nutrition reviews, 64(5 Pt 2), S34–S91.
Beard J. L. (2008). Why iron deficiency is important in infant development. The Journal of nutrition, 138(12), 2534–2536.

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