Anemia is a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body. This can lead to several problems, including fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness. If you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance you may develop anemia at some point.
In severe cases, anemia can even cause premature labor or low birth weight in newborns. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of anemia in pregnancy.
What is anemia?
Anemia is a condition where there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. This can cause fatigue, pale skin, and shortness of breath.
When you’re expecting, your body undergoes several changes. The quantity of blood in your body rises by around 20-30%, bringing with it extra iron and vitamins that the body needs to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. Many women suffer from anemia during the second and third trimesters as the baby grows and demands more blood.
When your body requires more iron than it has, you can become anemic. Mild anemia is common during pregnancy owing to an increase in blood volume. However, severe anemia can pose a danger to your baby by increasing the risk of pre-term delivery and low-birth-weight infants. Furthermore, if you are severely anemic throughout your pregnancy, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty breathing, and dizziness.
What are the causes of anemia in pregnancy?
One of the most common causes of anemia during pregnancy is iron deficiency. This can also be caused by inadequate iron intake or poor absorption of iron from food. Other causes include
- Blood loss: This can occur during your period or from bleeding during pregnancy.
- Poor nutrition: If you’re not getting enough iron in your diet, you may develop anemia.
- Increased needs for iron during pregnancy.
- Certain medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as sickle cell disease or thalassemia, can cause anemia.
If you think you may have anemia, it’s important to see your doctor. They will likely do a blood test to check your hemoglobin levels.
Risk factors for anemia during pregnancy
Risk factors for anemia during pregnancy include:
- Being of low socioeconomic status
- Having a poor diet
- Being of certain ethnicities (e.g. black or Hispanic)
- Having a history of anemia
- Being pregnant with more than one baby
- Having certain medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, kidney disease)
- Taking certain medications (e.g. antacids, some antibiotics)
If you are at risk for anemia, your doctor will likely recommend that you take a supplement of iron and folic acid. They may also recommend that you take a blood test to check your hemoglobin levels during your pregnancy.
Types of anemia
Different types of anemia can occur during pregnancy. The most common type is iron-deficiency anemia, which is caused by a lack of iron in the diet. Other types of anemia include:
- Folic acid deficiency anemia
- Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia
- Pernicious anemia
- Aplastic anemia
- Sickle cell anemia
Can anemia cause miscarriage?
A person suffering from a chronic illness may have suffered a pregnancy accident or a fatality. The thyroid condition can cause pregnancy loss or miscarriage. Hyperthyroidism can often cause pregnancy anemia. These types of thyroid diseases cause antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism may be associated with pregnancy ailment and pregnancy complications. Please don’t be stressed. Tell your medical professional that you are having thyroid disease and report symptoms.
What are the symptoms of anemia during pregnancy?
The most common symptom of anemia is fatigue. Other symptoms can include
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
You may not notice any symptoms in the early phases of anemia. Many of the symptoms that you might experience while pregnant, even if you aren’t anemic. So make sure to get your blood checked for anemia at each of your prenatal checkups.
Although some anemias are preventable, when pregnant women take iron-rich foods, it will help them prevent anemia.
If pregnant women experience a pregnancy anemic state then take a lot of iron. Eat balanced diets and make more foods that contain enough iron. Generally, a diet that contains a high iron content can increase the amount of iron your body is taking into account.
Try putting these foods in parallel with your iron-containing diet for optimum results. For instance, drink orange juice and eat iron-filled cereal for breakfast. Choose foods with high folate to help eliminate the folate deficiency. Follow doctor instructions if you need any prenatal vitamins that have enough iron and folic acid.
Diagnosis for anemia during pregnancy
It can be done through blood tests. Your doctor will likely recommend this if you’re pregnant and have certain risk factors for anemia, such as being of African descent, having a history of anemia, or being pregnant with twins.
The blood tests will measure your hemoglobin levels and hematocrit. If they’re low, you may have anemia.
Are there any risks associated with anemia in pregnancy?
Yes, there are some risks associated with severe and untreated anemia during pregnancy. These include a higher risk of preterm labor, low birth weight, birth defects, developmental delays in babies, anemic babies, and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).
Severe iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth (when delivery occurs before 37 complete weeks of pregnancy).
Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy is also associated with having a low birth weight baby and postpartum depression. Some studies also show an increased risk of infant death immediately before or after birth.
Additionally, anemia can lead to fatigue and an increased risk of infection. If you are pregnant and have anemia, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider about treatment options.
How is anemia treated during pregnancy?
Treatment for anemia during pregnancy typically involves taking iron supplements along with prenatal vitamin. Your doctor will likely recommend that you take a daily multivitamin that contains iron, and an additional iron supplement. You may need to take iron supplements for several months to correct your anemia.
If you have severe anemia, you may need to be hospitalized so that you can receive iron through an intravenous (IV) line. During pregnancy, it’s important to get enough iron because it helps your baby’s brain develop. Iron also supports the growth of the placenta and the increased blood supply needed during pregnancy.
Eating foods high in iron content (such as dark green leafy vegetables, red meat, fortified cereals, eggs, and peanuts) can help you keep the amount of iron your body requires to function.
Eat foods high in folic acids, such as dried beans, dark green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, and orange juice. Eat foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and fresh, raw vegetables.
If you’re pregnant and have anemia, talk to your doctor about the best way to treat it.