Anemia in Pregnancy

When your hemoglobin/hematocrit is <11mg/dL/33%, the World Health Organization defines you to be anemic.

Essential Facts About Anemia

  • Anemia is most often secondary to inadequate iron intake.
  • The typical U.S. diet contains about 18mg of iron a day of which only 1mg is absorbed.
  • Each pregnancy depletes maternal iron stores by 750mg.

Implications of Anemia for You and Your Pregnancy

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations (pounding)
  • Increased risk of blood transfusion during delivery

Foods and Drugs That Don’t Mix Well with Iron

  • Foods high in phytic acids (grains, seeds, legumes) decrease iron absorption.
  • Dairy products decrease bioavailability of iron. Iron supplements should not be taken within one hour of consuming dairy products.
  • Thyroid supplements should be taken four hours apart from iron supplements to maximize the effectiveness of thyroid supplementation.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (Prevacid, Prilosec OTC, etc.) reduce the bioavailability of iron.
  • Calcium, aluminum, and magnesium decrease iron absorption. Therefore, iron should be taken at least one hour before or two hours after products containing these chemicals.

Simple Remedies

  • Remember to take your prenatal vitamin daily.
  • Vitamin C and folic acid help increase iron stores.