If you’re diagnosed with iron deficiency while expecting, don’t panic. The condition is common in pregnancy, and is straightforward to treat.
When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, there seems to be a litany of vital nutrients to remember—even if you’re taking your prenatal multivitamin. Iron is one of those essentials, but it’s not difficult to include it in your daily diet.
Iron is integral for keeping oxygenated blood circulating the body. It also maintains the health of nails, skin and hair—and you can see the effects if you aren’t getting in enough.
Good sources of iron include:
Spinach and kale
Legumes, such as beans, lentils and chickpeas
Dark chocolate (but lay off at night due to caffeine content!)
Oatmeal and rye
Dried figs and apricots
Iron-fortified breakfast cereals
Red tart cherries
Nuts and peanut butter
Shellfish (ensure properly cooked!)
Women are especially at risk of developing iron deficiency, or anaemia, due to blood loss in menstrual cycles, and the daily iron requirement is even higher during pregnancy—over 18mg—in order to supply more healthy blood to your growing baby.
“As part of the many changes in pregnancy, your blood volume increases: put simply, you have more blood than you had before by approximately a whopping 50%,” explains GP, Dr Philippa Kaye.
If you notice the following signs, there’s a chance you’re low in this key mineral. (Contact your GP or midwife, who may advise a more iron-rich diet, or prescribe easy-to-administer iron supplements.)
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Fast heartbeat
- Sore tongue
- Cold extremities
- Pica cravings (for dirt or clay)
- Brittle or spoon-shaped nails
- Sores at the corners of mouth
- Difficulty swallowing (in severe cases)