Anemia During Pregnancy: Risks and Symptoms

Mild anemia during pregnancy is a common occurrence, though it cannot be said to be a healthy one. The amount of blood increases in the body to meet the growing needs of the fetus and placenta. The body will require more iron in the blood to prepare hemoglobin for nearly 50% more blood than usual, in addition iron will be required to by the fetus and placenta.

If the pregnant woman does not have enough iron in her body to meet the increasing demand, there may not be enough iron to produce hemoglobin which leads to anemia. Apart from low iron, vitamin B 12 deficiency, Folate deficiency, illness or poor health condition may lead to anemia.

Women with high risk of anemia during pregnancy

Though most of the women suffer from mild anemia during pregnancy, certain women are at higher risk due to their health conditions. The factors that contribute to anemia during pregnancy are:

  • Short spacing between pregnancies
  • Morning sickness with lot of nausea and vomiting
  • Pregnancy before age of maturity
  • Poor diet which fails to provide iron, vitamins and other required nutrients to the body
  • Pre-pregnancy heavy flow of menstrual blood
  • Twin or multiple pregnancy
  • Women who are habitual smokers or alcoholics
  • Women who had been on weight loss diet
  • Consuming anticonvulsant medicine

Symptoms of anemia

A healthy pregnant woman will not show any visible signs or symptoms of anemia, especially if the condition is not very severe during the early stages. It is only when the hemoglobin levels falls below 8g/dl that the first symptoms of anemia may appear. The health care professional conducts blood tests twice during pregnancy to rule out anemia or to provide ample solutions in case anemia is present.

The common symptoms of anemia during pregnancy are:

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale color of lips, under eyelids and nails
  • Palpitations and tachycardia
  • Inflammation or soreness in tongue
  • Craving for unusual food
  • Being forgetful
  • Pain in chest and head
  • Inability to concentrate or focus

Effects of anemia

Pregnancy anemia can affect the health of both – mom to be and the baby growing in her womb. The pregnant woman who is anemic cannot fight infections and thus becomes vulnerable to illness. She will not be able to cope with blood loss if it happens during childbirth. Now it is a proven fact that anemia during pregnancy can increase the risk of postpartum depression, low birth weight of baby and preterm delivery. In some rare cases the risk of still birth death of new born baby or baby developing neural tube defect increases.

The baby often stores enough iron to last it for nearly six months after birth as it will not get enough iron from diet for that period. Though the baby gets its iron supplement before the mother does, anemia during pregnancy can affect the storage of iron in the baby during birth, thus causing anemia in infancy.

Managing anemia

Eating healthy diet which includes lots of meat, eggs, green leafy vegetables and dairy products is the best and safe way to manage anemia during pregnancy. For certain cases doctors may recommend supplement of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 depending on the type of anemia. Do not forget to take enough amounts of citrus when taking iron supplement as it helps in absorption iron into the body.