Your body’s iron requirements double during pregnancy because the amount of blood doubles during pregnancy to support growing fetus. Iron is required to make hemoglobin in blood. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells, which carries oxygen to all the parts of the body. With the increase in amount of blood, the requirement of hemoglobin exceeds and thus the requirement of iron increases in the body during pregnancy. Your body requires 27 mg of iron during pregnancy, each day as compared to 17 mg of iron, which is your normal iron requirement. The additional iron requirement in body cannot be fulfilled by just taking iron rich diet each day therefore doctors recommend iron tablets as a preventive measure to avoid any severe repercussions of iron deficiency in a pregnant woman.
Iron deficiency can cause anemia in a pregnant woman and if a pregnant woman remains anemic in first two trimesters, then the chances of preterm delivery and a low weight baby increases. Sever deficiency can cause anemia in your baby too just after the birth of your baby. Usually fetus growing in a pregnant woman’s body takes care of its iron requirement before the pregnant woman will do. The available iron in your body is taken by the fetus thus you are more at risk than the fetus growing in your body unless server deficiency condition arises. Iron deficiency can make you feel sick, less energetic, and unable to fight with any infections in your body. You may feel dizzy, your heart rate increases, and you may need to get hospitalized for blood transfusion in some sever deficiency conditions.
Usually fatigue, less energy, weakness, and dizziness are common symptoms that a pregnant woman faces and therefore sometimes it becomes difficult to detect the occurrence of anemia. But if you are suffering from anemia you will have short breath, you will be unable to concentrate, and you will have heart palpitations. Your body requires more iron in second and third trimester of pregnancy and if you have morning sickness and vomiting or you have close pregnancies or multiple pregnancies, you are more likely at the risk of becoming anemic. To avoid any such condition, start your prenatal care early in pregnancy so that your doctors can test your blood for anemia and give you proper care.
Iron deficiency alone cannot be held responsible for anemia because anemia can also be caused due to the shortage of Vitamin B12 or folic acid, loss of blood, hereditary disorder of blood or any other disease. Under such circumstances taking iron supplements to cure anemia will not cure anemia rather proper treatment of anemia depends on its actual cause. If you are anemic due to iron deficiency, your doctor may prescribe 60mg to 120 mg iron in a day or more. You should take iron tablets in the morning empty stomach with orange juice or water. Orange juice can give you Vitamin C, which can help your body to absorb iron. Avoid taking iron tablets with milk because calcium in milk can hinder the absorption of iron in the body. Consult your doctor before taking iron supplements because overdose of iron can upset your gastrointestinal tract and cause constipation. Finally don’t worry if your stool looks darker because that is a common side effect of taking iron.