Iron deficiency is one of the commonly diagnosis of many pregnant women. The American pregnancy association approximates that between 15% and 25% of pregnant women experience iron deficiency at a certain point during the course of their pregnancy.
Iron is a very important component that helps the body make new red blood cell. As the pregnancy progresses, the demand for iron increases with the growth of the baby. During pregnancy, the recommended amount of iron increases from 18 milligrams (mg) per day to 27 mg per day. You need extra iron to support additional red blood cells, the placenta, and your growing baby. Plus, the extra iron prepares your body for any blood loss that may occur when you give birth.
Also according to The American Pregnancy Association , the symptoms of Iron Deficiency anemia include weakness or fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, paleness, cold hands and feet and trouble concentrating. Some of these common symptoms of iron deficiency overlap with a lot of symptoms experienced by many women during pregnancy, thus in my case some were easy to miss. The one symptom that caught my attention when I was pregnant was dizziness, which was not a part of any symptoms of pregnancy that I had experienced before. My iron deficiency diagnosis was confirmed by blood work and I was advised to start over the counter iron supplement. I however am not a very big fan of taking pills. Working around my “allday” sickness throughout my pregnancy, I had to look for ways to increase my daily iron intake through creative diet. The following are a suggestions of what I found to be helpful.
I know this might look silly to place vitamins as one of the foods but if there is one thing that a pregnant woman has to include in her daily intake, prenatal vitamins should be at the top of the list. A variety of FDA approved prenatal are available from chewable to regular pills. These prenatal vitamins are made carefully with the intent to give a woman required amount of folic acid, vitamin and iron necessary to the well development of the baby.
Green Vegetables and fruits
The green vegetables are considered the best choice, so try adding spinach to your omelet maybe a good idea. I like to make a lot of vegetable soups and with my loss of appetite I found that the greener and the bitter the vegetable, the easier it gets for me to eat. I also try to include green vegetables in my smoothies, by mixing strawberries and kale or throwing in a few spinach leaves, because drinking is way easier for me than eating during pregnancy. However, it has been proven that iron from vegetables is not as easily absorbable by the body, it is advisable to include vitamin C rich fruits to facilitate absorption. I try to get my vitamin C throughout the day by snacking on fruits such as oranges, strawberries as much as I can as well as mixing them within my smoothies. A combination of green vegetables and citrus fruits will help you increase your daily intake of iron.
Meat and eggs
Red meat is the most recommended choice known to have high levels of iron. I know in my case I have a hard time eating meat when pregnant but one type of meat that I am able to eat easily and sometimes crave is liver. I keep mine simple, just pan grilled with as less spices as I can. But also turkey shrimp, chicken and other types of meats are a great source of heme iron which is absorbed well than the one found in vegetables. I wasn’t a very big fan of omelets or any other types of eggs so I mostly stick to hard-boiled eggs, they are easy to keep for long and able to be eaten as fast as I had a slight appetite.
Cereal and nuts
Iron fortified cereal is a great snack that can provide you with a supplemental iron. Again getting creative with your snacking is a great way to beat the morning or “allday” sickness. I usually snack on dry cereal and a few nuts especially if my nausea seems to be bothering me. Keeping a stash in your purse or next to my bed gives me a quick access to nutritious snacks that both easy my nausea and help increase my iron.
In some special cases the doctor may prescribe iron supplemented or suggest over the counter supplements. In any case it is very important to notify your healthcare provider whenever you experience any symptoms and they will determine the necessary course of action.