Iron deficiency during pregnancy is recorded as one of the most common leading factors why infants and young children are born with anaemia. In addition to going through conditions such as fatigue, constipation, and mood swings – suffering from a high levelled risk of anaemia has also been added to the list of pregnant women. Many women go through their entire pregnancy term without in-taking the minimum amount of iron needed to avoid certain complications. There is no doubt that there is a lot more than just bodily changes that occur in a woman’s body when she is pregnant. Alas, the risk of anaemia is also one of them.
There are quite different types of anaemia; therefore, it is essential to be educated about the main ones to avoid complications. It is normal to experience mild anaemia. However, it can make the pregnant woman feel weak and tired. So you must lookout for the signs and symptoms if your condition continues to worsen.
In this article, we will discuss the causes of symptoms, the main types of anaemia, the risk factors, and when a pregnant woman should contact her doctor or healthcare professional.
So let’s get into it!
An Overview of Anaemia
If you have happened to take a Biology class or even a General Knowledge class, you would know that the human body is made of red blood cells and is entirely dependent on them for survival. These red blood cells carry haemoglobin- a protein found in the red blood cells responsible for maintaining oxygen to the entire body and organs. Generally, anaemia is defined according to the haemoglobin levels found in the body. Now, this is dependent on factors such as age, ethnicity, and sex.
The body is set to produce more blood during pregnancy to maintain the baby’s healthy growth. This action made by the body increases the need for vitamins, minerals, and iron required to form haemoglobin. If the mother isn’t getting sufficient iron levels, her body might fail to make that amount of red blood cells needed to make additional blood.
Hence, anaemia is when the body has too few red blood cells to work with. This condition is extra harmful during pregnancy since the mother and baby need blood.
Causes of Iron Deficiency Anaemia
According to some sources, iron deficiency is why pregnant moms undergo anaemia.
The most typical cause is the inadequate consumption of iron. Women are hit with iron deficiency anaemia when there is a lack of iron storage before and during pregnancy. Iron is highly needed during life-changing processes such as pregnancy and for little kids growing up. Foods such as meat, eggs, and green, leafy vegetables are rich in iron and must be eaten to ensure a balanced iron intake to avoid deficiency. Apart from being pregnant, if you are someone who experiences heavy menstrual periods, that may cause you to be iron-deficient as well.
A few medical problems or diseases can cause internal bleeding, such as stomach ulcers or colon cancer, potentially leading to iron-deficiency anaemia. Regular intake of certain pain relievers such as aspirin can cause bleeding in the stomach. Even disorders or the effects of surgery can make one unable to absorb iron. Therefore, even if one takes the right amounts of iron, the body would not absorb or contain it. There are two different types of anaemia that women can develop during their pregnancies other than Iron deficiency anaemia. These are Folate-deficiency anaemia and Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Pregnant women with iron deficiency anaemia undergo symptoms at a mild stage. Since the symptoms are mild at first, some women don’t even realise they are short on iron until the tests are done.
Nevertheless, some of the symptoms experienced by pregnant women are fatigue, paleness, feeling weak, shortness of breath, feeling dizzy, craving strange items that have zero nutritional value, headaches, brittle nails, and fast or irregular heartbeat. These soon-to-be mothers also have difficulty sleeping.
There are no such specific symptoms other than the ones mentioned above. However, if the case is severe, then the pregnant woman feels highly exhausted all the time.
Risk Factors of Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Even though every pregnant woman is equally at risk of becoming anaemic, the risk of some pregnant women eventually increases due to the following reasons:
- If they happen to be carrying twins or multiples or have had two pregnancies in a short time
- Have had anaemic problems before pregnancy
- Don’t consume enough iron and vitamins
- Vomit a lot because of morning sickness
- Had any surgery related to the stomach
- Are a strict vegan
If you have any of these risk factors, it would be best to meet or contact your doctor to avoid complications.
Getting anaemic during pregnancy is common. Your doctor can devise a treatment plan according to the severity of your condition. In most situations, doctors recommend taking iron supplements to help restore the iron levels in the body. You may also have to take these supplements for a few months. Your doctor may also make significant changes in your diet.
It would be best not to jump to conclusions yourself. Most iron-deficiency anaemia symptoms can feel similar to a normal pregnancy. It would be best to have some tests done before making a decision.
– One of the most common tests is the haemoglobin test – this is where the doctor will collect a small sample of your blood in a test tube.
– Another test is known as the hematocrit test – this is where again, the doctor will take some amount of your blood to measure the percentage of blood cells present in your blood.
– Lastly, CBC (Complete Blood Count) test measures the type and number of cells in your blood.
Nonetheless, it is better to schedule a meeting with your doctor or a healthcare professional to know the point of contention. You could end up with too much iron, a dangerous condition that can cause other health problems like constipation or further bodily damage. Therefore, talk to a doctor before making any deductions.