Iron is essential to the body for many reasons it is necessary to create the protein in red blood cells which carries oxygen to other cells (hemoglobin), promotes a healthy immune system, and is needed for other proteins and enzymes. For pregnant women, iron is even more important. But, are you getting enough?
Why do you need more iron during pregnancy?
To start with, your blood volume actually goes up while you are expecting a baby, by almost half of your usual blood volume! It is obvious that more blood equals the need for more hemoglobin. Many women go into a pregnancy with iron deficiencies, and in the second and third trimesters, you baby and its placenta will require iron too.
Iron deficiency symptoms
The usual symptoms of an iron deficiency are tiredness, feeling weak, and being out of breath a weird taste in your mouth, headaches, and cravings for non-food items are also common. That can be very confusing indeed to pregnant women, who are likely to have at least some of those symptoms, and sometimes even all of them; not because of anemia, but as normal pregnancy signs! That is why it is so important to get tested for iron deficiency anemia as part of your prenatal care.
How about supplementation?
Everyone, from medical doctors to herbalists, agrees that it is better to acquire iron from natural food sources than from supplements. We will be writing about iron rich foods next, so take a look at the rest of the blog if you are interested. The recommended daily dose of iron is 27 milligrams (mg) daily if you are an expectant mom but if you get more one day, and less the next, that is totally acceptable. Many women end up supplementing, as it provides an easy and sure source of iron. Discuss the right supplements with your doctor or midwife, and be aware that iron supplements can have side effects like constipation, and in some cases nausea.