Blood is the only viable life-maintaining fluid in the human body. As it runs its course through an extensive network of veins, arteries, and thinner capillaries, it also pumps life into all the body’s organs.
Blood contains hemoglobin red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body. Blood loss or a decline in red blood cell count can diminish the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen, reducing the amount of oxygen that the organs receive through it. Such a condition is called anemia.
Anemia in Pregnancy
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Pregnancy can cause anemia to manifest. You get anemia if there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells in your blood to provide oxygen to your tissues and the developing fetus.
During pregnancy, your body produces more blood to support the development of your unborn child. If you don’t consume enough iron or other vital nutrients, your body might not be able to make the required quantity of red blood cells to produce this additional blood.
It’s typical to experience mild anemia while pregnant. However, you can develop more severe anemia due to low iron or vitamin levels or for other reasons.
You may experience weakness and exhaustion if you have anemia. Your chance of experiencing serious repercussions will rise if it is severe and untreated.
Types of Anemia in pregnancy
Various anemias can manifest during pregnancy. These consist of:
1. Iron-deficiency anemia
This kind of anemia arises when the body is unable to produce enough hemoglobin due to a lack of iron. Red blood cells contain the protein. It moves oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body’s tissues.
When there is iron deficiency anemia, the blood cannot carry enough oxygen to the body’s tissues.
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia in pregnancy.
2. Folate-deficiency anemia
A form of B vitamin called folate is naturally found in some foods, like green leafy vegetables. To create new cells, including healthy red blood cells, the body needs folate.
When a woman is pregnant, she needs more folate. Their nourishment is occasionally insufficient, though. When that happens, the body is unable to manufacture enough robust red blood cells to supply oxygen to every cell in the body. The nutrient folate also exists in synthetic form as folic acid.
Birth problems that can be directly attributed to a folate shortage include low birth weight and malformations of the neural tube (spina bifida).
3. Vitamin B 12 deficiency
The body needs vitamin B12 to produce healthy red blood cells. Women who don’t eat meat, poultry, dairy products, or eggs are more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficit. Preterm labor and neural tube defects are two birth defects that may be more common as a result of this disorder.
Who is at risk for anemia in pregnancy
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Women who are expecting are more likely to develop anemia if they:
- Are strict vegetarians or vegans. They have a higher chance of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Are having Crohn’s or celiac disease, or having had weight loss surgery when the stomach or a piece of the stomach was removed.
Iron deficiency anemia is more likely to occur in pregnant women if they:
- had two pregnancies close to each other
- are a mother of twins or more
- vomit a lot as a result of morning sickness
- don’t get enough iron from their diets or prenatal vitamins.
- have thick periods before pregnancy
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Effects of Anemia in pregnancy
The possibility of anemia exists for all pregnant women. This explains why they need more iron and folic acid than usual. However, the likelihood is raised if you:
- are expecting more than one child
- recently experienced two pregnancies
- regularly throw up when you’re unwell in the morning.
- got pregnant at an early age
- don’t eat enough meals high in iron.
- were anemic before becoming pregnant
The most typical symptoms of anemia during pregnancy are as follows:
- pale skin, nails, and lips
- being worn down or delicate
- Shortness of breath
- rapid heartbeat
- having trouble concentrating
Maternal complications of Anemia in pregnancy
Your risk of these situations is increased if you have severe or untreated iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy.
- A newborn who is preterm or underweight
- A blood transfusion (if you lose a significant amount of blood during delivery)
- Postpartum depression
- A newborn with anemia
- A child who is having developmental problems
If your folate deficiency is not corrected, you are at risk of:
- Preterm or low birth weight babies
- Giving birth to a child with a serious congenital abnormality of the spine or brain
If your vitamin B12 deficiency is not treated, it may also increase your risk of becoming pregnant and delivering a kid with neural tube defects.
Preventing Anemia in pregnancy
Usually, anemia in pregnancy is preventable, especially with a diet rich in nourishing foods.
Here are some tips to help you make sure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you require to keep your red blood cell count in a healthy range.
1. Take prenatal vitamins
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Prenatal supplements frequently contain the majority of the micronutrients you need throughout pregnancy, including folic acid and iron.
Prenatal vitamins can be taken once a day as an easy way to supplement a balanced diet with the vitamins and minerals required for proper red blood cell formation. It’s best to start taking a prenatal vitamin at least two to three months before trying to conceive.
2. Take iron supplements
For low iron levels, your doctor may give you an additional iron supplement in addition to your regular prenatal vitamin.
The usual daily need for pregnant women is 27 milligrams of iron. The amount you require must be discussed with your doctor because it depends on the type of iron or iron supplement taken.
Additionally, since calcium may impair your body’s ability to absorb iron, you should avoid taking it at the same time as iron supplements.
3. Get proper nutrition
Most people can get enough iron and folic acid while pregnant if they eat the right meals. These are some top places to find these essential minerals:
- unhealthy red meat
- nuts and seeds
- dark green foliage
- improved grains
- bananas and melons among other fruits
Additional information from Margaux Dolores
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