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Low Iron Levels During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Low Iron Levels During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

When we test your blood during your pregnancy, one of the things we're looking at is your iron levels.

Iron is a mineral that plays a role in the creation of red blood cells. These are cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.

When you're pregnant, you need 50% more iron than you needed before (27 mg daily rather than 18 mg). If you don't get enough iron from your diet, you could develop low iron levels.

Because low iron could cause pregnancy complications, our medical team at Westover Hills Women’s Health would like to share some important information with you about iron. Read on to learn more about this important topic.

Iron, anemia, and pregnancy

Anemia is a condition that can occur if you lack adequate iron in your blood. If you don't have enough iron, your body may not create enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to your body and to your baby.

Anemia can occur when you don't get enough iron in your diet. It can also result from certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia.

During pregnancy, your blood volume increases significantly, which means your body needs to produce many more red blood cells than when you're not pregnant. This requires healthy iron levels.

Having the iron you need during pregnancy matters because low iron can increase the risk of certain pregnancy complications. These include premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birthweight (when your baby weighs under 5 pounds 8 ounces at birth).

Signs of low iron

If you are short on iron and your body isn't getting the oxygen it needs, you may experience no symptoms at all. Or you may feel one or more of the following:

Call us right away if you're experiencing any of these symptoms.

Getting enough iron

Most women can get all the iron they need from food. Your diet should include iron-rich foods such as: 

To optimize iron absorption from the foods you eat, pair vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich foods. Some foods with vitamin C include citrus fruits, potatoes, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli.

In addition, you can make sure you’re getting ample iron and other nutrients you and your baby need by taking a pregnancy multivitamin each day. Do not take additional iron supplements unless we tell you to.

Know your iron levels

Board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist Houmam Al-Hakeem, MD, and our team of caring midwives are happy to provide you with all of the pregnancy care you need, including bloodwork to check your iron levels.

To schedule a visit at one of our two San Antonio, Texas, offices, call us today or use our online tool to book an appointment.

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