Anemia is a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells. Your red blood cells do important work during pregnancy, carrying oxygen to your body and your baby.
Anyone can develop anemia, but it’s more common in women of childbearing age, because they lose blood every month during their menstrual periods. And it is common in pregnant women, because pregnancy increases your blood volume and your need for healthy red blood cells.
Here at Westover Hills Women’s Health in San Antonio, Texas, our caring doctors and certified nurse midwives keep a close eye on your health during pregnancy. Anemia is one of the many things we watch out for. Having healthy blood helps you have a healthy baby.
In addition to performing blood tests, our doctors and midwives encourage our patients to watch for some common signs of anemia. Read on to learn more about those signs and the effect anemia could have on your pregnancy.
Anemia in pregnancy
Although anemia during pregnancy can have several causes, the most common is a shortage of iron in your diet. Iron helps your body manufacture the red blood cells that carry oxygen in your blood.
We need to treat iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy, because without treatment, it could raise your risk of premature birth (delivery before 37 weeks) or having a baby with a low birthweight (under 5 pounds, 8 ounces), according to the March of Dimes.
Fortunately, we can successfully treat anemia in most women. In many cases, simply taking iron supplements can reverse anemia.
Prenatal vitamins contain iron, but some women need more iron than what supplements contain. Still, you should never take supplements during pregnancy unless your doctor or midwife recommends them.
Signs of anemia
Anemia doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms. You can feel completely fine and still have anemia, which is why we test your blood. But there are some common signs of anemia.
The most common is fatigue. Most women feel more tired when they’re pregnant, and some fatigue is normal as your body does all the work required to build a baby. But excessive fatigue and tiredness can signify anemia.
Other signs of anemia include:
- Chest pain or irregular heartbeat
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feeling of coldness, especially in your feet or hands
- Pale skin or skin with a yellowish tinge
- Shortness of breath
Another sign of anemia is a general sense of feeling unwell. You know your body better than anyone else. If you feel that something is wrong, tell your doctor or midwife.
Healthy moms, healthy babies
If you’re experiencing signs of anemia, or any other symptoms that concern you, we need to know about it. Left untreated, anemia has the potential to harm you and your baby.
To schedule a preconception visit, prenatal appointments, blood testing, or any other type of pregnancy care at one of our two San Antonio, Texas, offices, please call us today or use our online tool to book an appointment.