Anaemia in pregnancy

Haemoglobin in red blood cells carries oxygen in your blood stream and gives blood its red colour. Anaemia is when the level of haemoglobin in your blood is lower than normal; it can be mild or severe.

Anaemia can cause tiredness, breathlessness, fainting, headaches and your heart to beat faster. Mild anaemia is common during pregnancy and your haemoglobin level will be routinely checked at your first pregnancy appointment and at 28 weeks.

Iron is needed to make haemoglobin and not having enough iron (iron deficiency) is the commonest cause of anaemia in pregnancy. Pregnant women require more iron than usual to provide for the needs of their growing baby.

Why may iron levels be low?Show [+]Hide [-]

Iron levels can be low for a number of reasons, but some people are particularly vulnerable to iron deficiency. These include:

  • teenagers
  • women who had heavy periods
  • before becoming pregnant
  • those who are dieting or on a restricted food intake
  • vegans and vegetarians
  • women pregnant with twins or more
  • women with certain medical conditions.

What are the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia?Show [+]Hide [-]

Tiredness is common. Other symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath – particularly on exertion
  • poor concentration
  • poor appetite
  • muscle weakness
  • increased risk of infections.

How is anaemia treated?Show [+]Hide [-]

Iron is usually prescribed as tablets in the first instance.

Increasing the amount of iron rich foods in your diet can make a big difference to your iron levels.

These include:

  • Dark-green leafy vegetables  
  • Brown rice 
  • Pulses such as lentils and beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Meat, fish and chicken   
  • Tofu
  • Eggs 
  • Iron-fortified cereals or bread
  • Dried fruit, such as dried apricots, prunes and raisins

Eating foods rich in vitamin C can help absorb the iron in your diet and also iron taken in tablet form.

In some cases treatment with an iron infusion is neccessary. Please follow the link below



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