Pregnancy is an extraordinary experience in the life of a woman. There are quite some challenges that an expecting mother has to conquer in the course of the pregnancy. Among them, some health issues are found to occur often, like issues with the hemoglobin level of the blood.
When we breathe in, hemoglobin, the (complex) protein seen in a red blood cell carries oxygen from the lungs) to the body’s tissues. Similarly, this protein carries carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs in the process of breathing out. The main component of RBC is iron molecule. Hence the name (heme = iron; globulin = name of the protein). These iron molecules help to carry the oxygen through the blood.
The level of hemoglobin is calculated in g/dl (gram per deciliter). The normal value of hemoglobin level in women ranges between 12 to 16 g/dl.
It is a usual practice to estimate the hemoglobin level as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed. This shows the significance of hemoglobin levels during gestation. The body of a pregnant woman requires more oxygen and the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is proportional to the circulating hemoglobin concentration.
It is quite normal for hemoglobin levels to fall during pregnancy(11.5 TO 15 g/dl). This is because the blood volume increases by 50% in the course of pregnancy for providing essential nutrients for the developing baby. It starts to increase around the 8th week of pregnancy. The increase in blood plasma is higher, when compared to the increased RBC (red blood cells increase by 20%) volume. This naturally decreases the concentration of RBC in the blood, bringing down hemoglobin levels. The level of hemoglobin dropping to 10.5 g/dl is quite normal in the course of pregnancy.
Even though it is normal for the hemoglobin level falls to 10.5g/dl causing mild anemia in the course of pregnancy, when it goes below 10g/dl, it can cause several heath issues that affect the mother and child and the normal progression of the pregnancy. If an iron supplement is not taken properly as directed by the doctor, the low hemoglobin level can cause:
The symptoms get worse as the hemoglobin levels fall further. When the hemoglobin level falls below 6g/dl, the expecting mother will experience angina, a condition characterized by severe pain in the chest, which moves to the shoulders, arms, and neck, due to an insufficient blood supply to the heart.
Mild variation in hemoglobin levels is common during pregnancy. However, setting foot in pregnancy with a low hemoglobin level can cause some severe issues. Your hemoglobin levels will fall significantly from the very beginning of pregnancy if:
Taking an iron supplement is necessary to maintain the level of hemoglobin if your hemoglobin level is too low during pregnancy. Even so, it will soon go down to the previous level once you cease getting the iron supplement. If the difference is relatively small, a few changes to your daily menu will assist to boost the hemoglobin level.
Other than the increased blood volume, an inadequate intake of vitamin C, iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 is the most widely recognized explanation behind low hemoglobin levels. Each of this deficiency can be amended by adding certain food items to your daily menu. Including some of the following food in your pregnancy diet will help to boost the level of hemoglobin:
Higher hemoglobin levels generally happen due to several underlying issues related to heart, lungs, and kidneys. Other than that, higher hemoglobin level(above the upper limits of normal level) in the blood can happen in the course of pregnancy when:
High hemoglobin level can be an indication of unfavorable pregnancy outcome. As:
As the higher level of hemoglobin can be an indication of various underlying issues, only an expert could find out an apt treatment, depending on the reason. The specialists will closely monitor the expecting mother and will decide the treatment pattern.
Always remember, the human body has amazing capabilities to adapt o various changes, especially when women are pregnant. Eating wisely during the gestation period can help the body cope with the changes that are happening, so a pregnant woman and people around her must pay special attention to her diet.