The Importance of Iron for Pregnant Women

Having enough iron in the body is critical, especially in pregnant women. As a woman’s pregnancy progresses, the baby needs the iron in order to develop properly. If your body is lacking the iron needed, then your baby stands a chance of being premature or iron deficient. If your doctor prescribes prenatal vitamins, it’s highly recommended that you take them as prescribed.

What is Iron?

Iron is a mineral in the body that every human needs. It helps make hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs, through your blood, to every part of your body. Iron also provides oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. People who lack enough iron become anemic or iron deficient. You may feel tired all the time and lack the strength to do everyday tasks.

Pregnancy and Iron

Pregnancy is a wonderful experience, but when you lack enough iron in your blood, there can be serious problems. A developing baby needs this vital mineral for growth and development. The growing baby takes a lot out of you, including your iron. Listen to your body and what it’s telling you.

You can tell if you’re getting enough iron by how you feel during your pregnancy. If you’re tired, weak or exhausted all the time, tell your doctor. Every pregnancy is different, but you shouldn’t be so tired that you can’t perform the smallest task.

Testing for Low Iron

During prenatal visits, you usually have blood taken every visit. This small test counts your red blood cells. If the number is under 35 then you may run the risks of anemia, or low red blood cells. Your doctor confirms this by doing other blood tests that include a complete blood count or serum iron test. A serum iron test measures the red blood cells in your blood.

Treatment

Treatment can be a variety of things. The treatment depends on your age, pregnancy stage, overall health and cause of iron deficiency. Iron supplements in addition to prenatal vitamins are good ways of increasing your iron. Your doctor will discuss what he thinks is the best course of action.

Eating Iron-Rich Foods

It’s important to eat properly during pregnancy. There are many kinds of iron-enriched vegetables and meats. Here is a list of foods that are great for pregnancy and keeping iron levels high:

  • Beans and legumes are high in fiber, protein and iron. Kidney beans, dry peas and soybeans are examples.
  • Dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and raisins.
  • Nuts are a great source of protein and iron.
  • Vegetables like broccoli, kale, collard greens, spinach and asparagus provide large amounts of iron.
  • Whole grains and oats contain iron.
  • Lean meats such as turkey and chicken breast are great with green vegetables and salads. Add them to your meals for a great source of iron.

Too Much Iron

Take your prescribed prenatal vitamins, eat healthy and listen to your doctor’s advice. Too much iron can lead to health problems as well. Don’t take anything other than what your doctor orders for you. You, your baby and your health depend on it.

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