Anaemia is caused by a shortage of iron in the body. Iron is responsible for the production of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around your body.
Mild anaemia during pregnancy, known as ‘physiological anaemia’, is fairly common and is nothing to worry about. It happens as your growing baby puts more demand on your body’s iron levels, making them fall.
More severe anaemia, however, can make you very tired, pale, and lethargic, interfering with your everyday life. If you suspect you may be anaemic at any stage during your pregnancy, ask your midwife or GP for a blood test to confirm your haemoglobin (Hb) levels.
If tests show you are severely anaemic your doctor will recommend an iron supplement. Wash them down with a glass of orange or cranberry juice as Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron – but don’t use milk as calcium hinders iron absorption.
Ferrous sulphate, the iron supplement commonly recommended by doctors, can cause an upset stomach or constipation. If this is the case for you, try Spatone (available from pharmacies) which is an alternative natural iron supplement with little or no side effects.
A healthy diet rich in red meat, green leafy vegetables and nuts will also help to maintain adequate levels of iron during pregnancy.