In the previous post we saw various causes and symptoms of Anemia. While the other forms are apparent immediately, anemia in pregnancy can be tricky. Further, it can affect not just the mother, but also the growing fetus, with lifelong consequences for the child after birth.
How does pregnancy cause anemia?
During pregnancy, the body needs to produce more blood to support the growth and nutrition of the baby. As a result, it also requires higher intake of nutrients such as iron and folic acid. Women with lower reserve of these nutrients, tend to develop anemia quicker.
Are you at risk?
The risk of developing anemia increases in the following situations:
- Two pregnancies close together
- Twin pregnancy or multiple gestation
- Heavy menstrual bleeding prior to getting pregnant
- Severe vomiting and morning sickness
Complications of anemia in pregnancy
Most cases of anemia in pregnancy are nutritional, and complications vary accordingly.
In case of Iron-deficiency anemia, if untreated, it can result in:
- A low birth weight or preterm baby
- A baby with anemia
- Post-partum depression
- Developmental delay in the child
For folate or vitamin B12 deficiency, there is increased risk of the baby developing spinal or brain defects known as neural tube defects, as well.
All the above conditions can greatly impair quality of living and may even prove fatal, when severe. Majority of these complications can be prevented with timely intervention.
Managing Pregnancy-associated anemia
Anemia can develop any time during the pregnancy, and the point at which it develops has its own consequences, it is important to have your hemoglobin levels tested frequently – at least once each trimester. The earlier it is detected, the better we can manage the condition.
Once anemia is established, it may be treated with regular supplementation of the deficient nutrients, or if more severe with blood transfusion.
More importantly, anemia can be prevented with simple steps such as:
- Including food rich in iron to your diet such as meat, dairy products, egg, leafy dark green vegetables like spinach, nuts and fortified cereal.
- Food containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, guava and gooseberry help absorb Iron and should be consumed in moderation.
- Also increase your intake of lentils, leafy vegetables and citrus fruits for their folate content. Prenatal vitamins also help regulate your folate levels.