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Anemia During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Risks & Prevention

Pregnancy can bring about several physical and hormonal changes. In some cases, women can experience anemia while pregnant. Anemic mothers do not retain the required amount of Red blood Cells that help transport oxygen to their body tissues and babies. During pregnancy, the human body tends to require more blood to support the growth of a baby. Thus, women can experience several health issues if they develop anemia during pregnancy. It is common for pregnant women to have mild anemia during pregnancy. But anemia during pregnancy risks can be concerning when the women have abnormally low levels of iron and red blood cells.

Book an online appointment with Dr. Jyothi Lakshmi T M for Pregnancy & Gynecology related issues

What are the Different Kinds of anemia?

  • Anemia Caused due to Iron Deficiency

This kind of anemia is caused when the human body does not retain the required amount of iron to produce sufficient amounts of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a kind of protein that is responsible for the red coloration of blood and for transporting oxygen from the primary respiratory organ, the lungs, to other parts of the human body. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia during pregnancy

  • Anemia Caused due to Folate Deficiency

Folate, a form of Vitamin B, is naturally present in abundance in green leafy vegetables and is associated with the production of new and healthy cells (including RBC) in the human body. Pregnant women need extra amounts of folate. If they lack folate, their bodies fail to synthesize the required amounts of RBCs. Furthermore, folate deficiency may result in several birth defects For example Neural tube defects.

  • Anemia Caused due to Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is required for the production of healthy and new RBCs Women, who skip consuming meat, dairy products, eggs and poultry, are highly susceptible to developing anemia . Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to Pre-term labour, low birth weight etc. Additionally, anemia can also be caused by heavy blood loss after or during labour.

To Know More : What is the normal haemoglobin level in pregnancy?

Who is at Risk for Developing Anemia?

Pregnant women can generally be anemic, but the risk of incurring this illness is high under the following circumstances.

  • If the woman is pregnant with more than 1 baby. (Multiple gestation)
  • If the woman becomes pregnant immediately after delivering a baby.
  • If the expecting mother experiences heightened morning sickness and thereby, vomits constantly.
  • If the expecting mother is a teenager
  • If the pregnant lady does not consume healthy amounts of the required nutrients in the form of a balanced diet.
  • If the expecting mother had histories history of being diagnosed with anemia even before the pregnancy.

Symptoms of Anemia During Pregnancy

The following are some of the common symptoms experienced by anemic pregnant women.

  • Pale nails and loss of colour in lips and skin.
  • Feeling lethargic, weak and tired constantly.
  • Dizziness.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Difficulties in focusing on tasks.
  • Shortened breath.

Pregnant ladies may not experience obvious symptoms in the early stages of incurring anemia. Also, the symptoms discussed above can usually be ignored or misinterpreted to be symptoms of being pregnant in most cases. Therefore, it is wise to run routine medical examinations to check for this illness during prenatal appointments.

To Know More : What are the typical iron-rich food that can be consumed during pregnancy?

What Causes Anemia During Pregnancy?

There are multiple causes of anemia during pregnancy. First and foremost, the state of pregnancy can itself be regarded as a cause of anemia since foetus conception can lead to an increase in blood volume. The following are other causes of anemia during pregnancy

  • Lack of iron, folate and Vitamin B12.
  • Heavy blood loss during menstruation before conception.
  • Polyps or ulcers

What Health Concerns Could Result From Severe Anemia?

Severe or medically untreated anemia that has been caused by iron deficiency can result in the following health concerns.

  • Premature delivery of the baby.
  • Babies born with low weight.
  • Need to undergo blood transfusion as a result of losing a lot of blood during labour.
  • Babies born with anemia.
  • Babies born with developmental delays.

Anemia caused by folate deficiency, when left untreated, can lead to premature delivery, low birth weight and babies with spinal or brain-related defects. Anaemia caused by Vitamin B12 deficiency can increase the risk of delivering babies with defects in their neural tubes.

How to Cure Anemia During Pregnancy

Anemic pregnant women are often prescribed to take iron folate & Vitamin B12 supplements along with the other prenatal vitamins. The doctor would advise the patient to get routine blood tests to ensure that the hemoglobin and hematocrit levels of the latter are improving after consuming the required medicines. The doctor would advise the person concerned to take nutrient-rich food items that are specifically rich in folate, Vitamin B12 and iron. But, what to eat for anemia during pregnancy? Doctors would advise consuming meat, dairy products, eggs, dry fruits, leafy vegetables etc. to fight anemia.

How to Avoid Anemia During Pregnancy?

The best way to prevent anemia is to ensure that pregnant women get the required nutrients in the required amounts. Consume balanced diets and prefer eating foods rich in iron, folate and Vitamin B12. Food products like red meat, fish, poultry, spinach, broccoli, cereals, grains, beans, tofu, lentils, nuts, eggs, seeds, etc. are rich in iron. Food products rich in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc. help in absorbing iron.

Must Read : Beneficial Effects of Iron Supplements During Pregnancy


1. What are the risks of anemia in pregnancy?

Anemia can increase the risks of delivering premature or lesser-weighing babies. Anemia can also lead to the development of post-partum depression in mothers.

2. How can I prevent anemia during pregnancy?

The only way to avoid anemia during pregnancy is by eating food items rich in iron, folate and Vitamin B12 like meat, poultry, tofu, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, nuts, seeds, etc.

3. What is the main cause of anemia in pregnancy?

The main cause of anemia during pregnancy is iron deficiency. Thus, doctors advise expecting mothers to be cautious of their diets throughout the pregnancy.

4. Can you have a healthy pregnancy with anemia?

Mild anemia is normal during pregnancy. A healthy pregnancy is possible even with anemia if you consider taking proper medical care and treatment.

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