Iron Levels in Pregnancy
One of the first tests that your doctor or midwife will do early in the first trimester, is to check blood iron levels. This test is generally run again during the second trimester to determine that iron levels are staying normal during the pregnancy.
Low iron levels in pregnancy are a common problem for women of childbearing age across the world. Many times if a woman’s iron levels are low, her doctor or midwife will prescribe an iron supplement for her to take during pregnancy.
There have been some studies done over the past few years which suggest that low iron levels in a mother during pregnancy can affect the child’s mental development in negative ways. Children who are born to anemic mothers tend to score lower on a series of tests given to them, than the children who were born to mothers that had normal or high iron levels in their blood.
Besides the iron suppllement pills, a woman can eat more foods that are naturally high in iron during her pregnancy in order to increase the iron levels. Foods high in iron include meats, egg yolks, dried beans or peas, green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and grains.
If you are trying to get pregnant and have low iron levels, or are afraid that you will have low iron levels, there are things you can do prior to pregnancy to try to increase your iron. If you are planning on getting pregnant, you should start taking prenatal pills immediately, versus waiting till you are already pregnant. Also, start eating more iron-rich foods, remembering that foods coming from animals (the meat and eggs) have higher levels of iron in them than the foods coming from vegetables. If you are not a big meat eater, eating just a small amount of meat with your iron-rich vegetables will dramatically increase the amount of iron that is absorbed from those vegetables.
Adding Vitamin C to your meals will also help increase the amount of iron that is absorbed into your body. If you are consuming mostly vegetables to get your iron, avoid tea while eating them because the tea can prevent or reduce iron absorption. Also, try cooking food in an iron skillet, as the iron from the skillet adds to the iron levels in the food.
If you are worried or unsure about your iron levels during your pregnancy, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife if they have any additional suggestions for you to help you raise the levels while you are pregnant.
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