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TIRED & WORN OUT … Iron supplements and pregnancy

During pregnancy some women find it difficult to meet their iron requirements by diet alone. Some simple signs of this are feeling unusually tired, run down more susceptible to infections. This can indicate that perhaps it is worth chatting to your doctor about this and whether a supplement and blood test might be worth exploring.

Sometimes the risk of iron deficiency may be increased by:

• vegetarian diets

• pregnancies close together

• severe morning sickness

• poor diet

• past history of anaemia.

So why is Iron so Important in pregnancy anyway?

During pregnancy iron is needed in larger amounts because your blood volume increases and your baby’s blood is evolving too.

A Lack of or Low iron can cause anaemia, which indicates that your red blood cells are not able to carry enough oxygen around the body leaving you tired and less able to fight off infections or even complete usual daily tasks such as chasing your toddler or staying awake during those work meetings.

Do I need supplements?

Some pregnant women find it difficult to meet their iron requirements by diet alone. Blood tests are performed at different stages throughout the pregnancy to check for iron deficiency. If necessary, an iron supplement will be recommended.

I would suggest assessing you daily food intake and including:

• At least two serves of the following foods every day – meat, chicken, fish, legumes or nuts

• Choose wholegrain breads, cereals and green leafy vegetables regularly.

Fill your shopping trolley:

Next time you are at the super market I would suggest filling the trolley with the following Iron rich sources:

: red meat, fish and chicken.

Iron is also in foods derived from plants such as:

• legumes :dried beans, lentil, baked beans, chick peas,

• nuts and nut butters

• seeds (e.g. sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)

• wholegrain breads

• green leafy vegetables

• dried fruit

• iron enriched breakfast cereals (check label to see whether iron has been added)

• Milo, Ovaltine.

Other Tips for helping Iron absorbs ion:

  • Iron and calcium can compete for absorption in your body therefore if you are anaemic and taking both iron and calcium supplements you may get better absorption if you avoid taking them both at the same time.

  • Tea and coffee, if taken with a meal, reduce the amount of iron absorbed. This is not a problem for people with normal iron levels but if you are anaemic it may be better to have your tea or coffee between rather than with meals.

If you are feeling unusually tired or run down I would always suggest my patients to call the rooms and schedule an appointment, we can assess your iron levels with a simple blood test and discuss iron infusion if it is necessary.

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