What is anemia during pregnancy?

Anemia During Pregnancy

Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy: Overview

Iron deficiency anemia means that you don't have enough iron in your blood. Without enough iron, your body can't make the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the tissues in your body. You need even more iron when you are pregnant.

Low iron can cause problems when you give birth. And your risk for problems after you have the baby may rise. Severe anemia is rare. But if you get it, you may be more likely to have your baby early (preterm birth). Or your baby may have a low birth weight.

You may not know your iron is low because you may not have obvious symptoms. But you may feel weak and sick. Or your skin may look more pale than usual.

The food you eat may not give you as much iron as you need. Iron pills can help. Your doctor may advise you to take them.

What are the symptoms of anemia during pregnancy?

When you have anemia, you may feel dizzy, tired, and weak. You may also feel your heart pounding or feel short of breath. It may be hard to focus and think clearly.

Cravings for nonfood items such as dirt, ashes, clay, or chalk can be a sign that you don't have enough iron in your blood (iron deficiency anemia).

How is anemia during pregnancy treated?

Each type of anemia is treated differently. Eating foods rich in iron, such as red meat, poultry, eggs, beans, raisins, whole-grain bread, fortified cereals, and leafy green vegetables can help. You may also need to take iron pills along with your prenatal vitamins or vitamins like folic acid or vitamin B12.

How is anemia during pregnancy diagnosed?

As a routine part of your prenatal visits, your doctor will take some of your blood to test. Tests may include a complete blood count (CBC) to look at your red blood cells.

How can you care for yourself when you have anemia during pregnancy?

If your doctor prescribed an iron supplement, take it on an empty stomach 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. Avoid antacids, milk, and caffeine drinks within 2 hours of taking iron. Drink plenty of fluids. Eat fruits, vegetables, and fiber daily, along with food rich in iron like poultry, eggs, and beans.

What is anemia during pregnancy?

Anemia means your red blood cell level is low. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Anemia can happen when you're pregnant because your body is working hard to make more blood to help your baby grow. Anemia during a healthy pregnancy is common.

Sometimes anemia during pregnancy can be caused by other problems, such as not having enough iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12.

Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are short of breath.
  • You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You feel weaker or more tired than usual.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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