In addition to now eating for two (or more), you're also producing blood for two (or more). Which means your body is craving more iron than usual. Iron is a mineral you need for the formation of hemoglobin and it transports oxygen through our bodies. With too little iron, you can quickly become exhausted or out of breath. Many women mistake this for a pregnancy ailment, but take your fatigue seriously and when in doubt always raise the alarm. Because iron deficiency can be harmful to your baby in the long run. So read on to learn what you can do to keep your body healthy.
What is iron?
The mineral iron is important for the formation of hemoglobin - is a protein in your blood that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body - and is part of the red blood cells. If you don't get enough iron you will be tired easily, suffer from pale skin, can suffer from restless legs and you are quickly out of breath (Nutrition Center, s.d.).
Do I need more iron during pregnancy?
Pregnant or breastfeeding women are more likely to be iron deficient. Are you a vegetarian or do you no longer eat animal products at all? Then it is very important to get your iron from certain foods or look into supplements. When you are pregnant you produce extra blood that your body transports to the placenta and to the baby. Which makes iron deficiency a lurking issue for many women. It often happens that women confuse iron deficiency with normal pregnancy symptoms. Be alert to this, because you can easily prevent iron deficiency or get rid of it (Pregnancy Portal, 2020).
How do I check my iron levels?
During the tenth or eleventh week of pregnancy, your blood is tested for various values and diseases. And so your iron values are also checked. But try to consciously look at your diet to conclude whether you are getting enough iron. Do you have doubts about your fatigue? Then contact your midwife or doctor. If you can catch it in time, it will not have serious consequences for your baby (Pregnancy Portal, 2020).
Consequences of iron deficiency
In addition to being low in energy, iron deficiency at a lower term can lead to anemia. If this is not treated, there is a greater chance of low birth weight or preterm birth. Also, as a mom, you are more susceptible and vulnerable to infections and diseases (Pregnancy Portal, 2020). So take your fatigue seriously and if in doubt, don't walk around with it for too long! Promised mama?
Preventing Iron Deficiency
Look critically at your diet. Are you eating healthy and varied foods that are high in iron? Yes, no? Take out your shopping list and add grain products, meat, fish, poultry, (green) vegetables, dried fruits, nuts & seeds, eggs and tofu (Pregnancy Portal, 2020). These products are iron heaven for your body!
Good to know: the absorption of iron is optimized if at the same time you eat or drink something that contains a lot of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is mainly found in vegetables, fruits and potatoes. (Nutricia for You, 2021).
Be careful with certain supplements, though; not all supplements are appropriate when you are pregnant. Check with your doctor or dietitian for appropriate iron supplements (Pregnancy Portal, 2020).
That you should eat lots of vitamins and minerals you have probably heard many times. Sometimes you just don't know where to start. We hope this blog has given you some more clarity about the importance of iron for your and your baby's health. You can easily prevent or cure iron deficiency, but it all starts with your shopping list. Good luck!