Anemia means ‘lack of blood’; it occurs when the concentration of the red blood pigment, hemoglobin, falls below normal levels. Hemoglobin is found inside red blood cells and carries oxygen around the body.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is defined as a medical condition where the hemoglobin or red blood cell count is less than normal. Men are called anemic if the hemoglobin level is less than 13.5 gm/100 ml, while women are termed as anemic if the hemoglobin content is below 12 gm/100ml of blood. Hemoglobin is the pigment that is responsible for giving red color to the blood. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the various tissues and organs of the body.
In simple words, anemia can be regarded as a condition when your blood lacks an adequate amount of hemoglobin or red blood cells. The main part of red blood cells(RBCs) is hemoglobin (Hb), and this is needed for carrying oxygen to different parts of the body.
Anemia During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time when anemia is quite common. A pregnant lady is required to take 14.8gm of iron per day. There are many types of anemia, but iron-deficiency anemia is usually the one seen during pregnancy. Iron is mandatory for the synthesis of hemoglobin, which in turn is required for red blood cell production in the human body.
What Causes Anemia In Pregnancy?
The causes of anemia when you are expected are categorized into three types.
- Anemia due to iron deficiency
- Anemia due to deficiency of folate
- Anemia due to deficiency of vitamin B12
During pregnancy, the volume of blood in your circulation increases by as much as a third. The usual form of Anemia is due to a lack of iron. Iron is essential to produce hemoglobin in the body. Overall, an extra 550 mg of iron is needed throughout pregnancy—300 mg for your baby, 50 mg for the placenta, and 200 mg to offset the blood lost during childbirth. Iron supplements are no longer given routinely, however, as the body becomes more efficient at absorbing and using iron during pregnancy, and also your losses decrease as menstruation has temporarily ceased. Anemia can also occur in pregnancy owing to a lack of folic acid or vitamin B12.
Symptoms Of Anemia During Pregnancy
Here are the common and frequent symptoms that are seen during iron-deficiency symptoms.
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Palpitations and breathlessness
- Pale nail beds and eyelids
- Loss of concentration
- Spoon shaped nails in severe deficiency
- Strange taste in the mouth
- Sore tongue
- Sometimes unusual cravings
- Worsening of heart problems
- Hair loss
When Anemia occurs, body tissues may not get enough oxygen for their needs and symptoms of paleness, dizziness, tiredness, lack of energy, shortness of breath on exercise, head¬ache, and even palpitations can occur.
A common symptom of iron deficiency during pregnancy is a craving for strange foods such as soil or cola. This is known as pica. If it happens to you during pregnancy, start taking a supplement containing iron immediately. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice on dosage. Your doctor may also want to perform a blood test to check your iron stores.
Some Common Types of Anemia
Here are some common types of Anemia seen during pregnancy.
- Iron-deficiency anemia-This Anemia is seen due to deficiency of iron in the body
- Folate-deficiency Anemia-Folate is the folic acid and is a kind of vitamin B. It is required for producing red blood cells. Folic acid deficiency can cause congenital defects such as neural tube defect or spina bifida and small birth weight
- Vitamin B12 deficiency-This type of Anemia occurs due to deficiency of folate and vitamin B12
Susceptibility to Anemia
Anemia can be seen in any pregnant woman, but the following conditions can aggravate the chances or vulnerability to developing Anemia:
- Women having multiple pregnancies
- Women experiencing too much vomiting during pregnancy
- Teenage pregnancy
- Women with decreased appetite
- Consuming an inadequate diet
- Women having hemorrhoids
If you experience tiredness or difficulty in breathing, immediately consult your doctor. Do not neglect it as it can be an alarming sign of a falling hemoglobin level.
Sources Of Iron For Anemia
You can make up for iron deficiency by consuming plenty of iron-enriched foods. Well, there are two kinds of iron-rich food items:
- Fish, red meat, and poultry have iron in heme form. Your body very easily utilizes this
- Food items like dried fruits, fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, pulses, and whole-grain bread contain non-heme iron. The non-heme is difficult for the body to absorb
- Vitamin C aids and supports the absorption of non-heme iron from the food. Drinking a glassful of orange juice is advised to enhance the iron absorption. Avoid consuming tea and coffee as it hampers the iron absorption in your body
Treatment Of Iron-Deficiency Anemia In Pregnancy
The doctor will prescribe iron and folic acid tablets, but there are some side effects associated with them, such as:
- Stomach ache
- Severe forms of anemia can be treated with iron injection, and in extreme cases, blood transfusion is needed.
Blackish stools are seen with iron tablets. So do not be panicky.
Tips To Deal With Anemia In Pregnancy
A healthy intake of iron helps to prevent iron deficiency anemia.
- Supplement: Taking a supplement specially formulated for pregnancy that contains iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 will help to reduce the risk of anemia.
- Have Iron-rich Foods: When eating iron-rich foods, or taking iron supplements, wash them down with orange juice as vitamin C helps to ensure optimum absorption of dietary iron from the intestines.
- Naturopathy: Beetroot and beetroot juice are recommended to help build the blood.
- Homeopathy: Take Ferrum metallicum or Ferrum Phos-phoricum tissue salts 30c, twice daily.
- Diagnostic Techniques: Diagnostic techniques such as kinesiology, iridology, and Kirlian photography may be able to help pinpoint the cause of anemia.
Childbirth Complications With Anemia
Anemia during pregnancy can amplify your chances of the following:
- The onset of early labor
- Postpartum depression
- Delivering a low birth weight baby
- Having an anemic baby
- Being affected by some infection during pregnancy
- Developmental delays in the baby
The prognosis of Anemia is very good and depends upon treating the underlying cause. Diet is very crucial, so make sure you consult a nutritionist and take it appropriately.