Anemia is an abnormally low level of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood. Many women get anemic during pregnancy.
It is important for your healthcare provider to check you for anemia during pregnancy. Severe anemia when you are pregnant may slow your baby's growth or result in a premature delivery. Also, because you are weaker, you will not recover as quickly from bleeding, infections, or other possible complications of delivery.
If you bleed heavily at delivery or you need to have a cesarean section, anemia may make it more likely that you will need a blood transfusion. Having a transfusion increases your risk of infection and other problems caused by transfusions.
The body changes in pregnancy lead to a need for more blood to help your baby grow. Most anemia during pregnancy results from the increased need for iron. You need more iron because your body is making more blood. Often your diet alone does not provide enough iron to meet your needs. Also, the growing baby takes all the iron it needs from you, regardless of how much you have in your system.
Sometimes anemia during pregnancy is caused by a lack of one of the B vitamins and folic acid. It may also be caused by a medical problem such as sickle cell anemia or thalassemia that you may have inherited from one of your parents.
Your symptoms may not be obvious. Or you may think your symptoms are normal symptoms of pregnancy.
Symptoms of anemia include:
Anemia can be diagnosed with a blood test.
The treatment depends on why you have anemia. Anemia caused by lack of iron is usually treated with iron tablets. Vitamin deficiencies are treated with vitamin supplements. If you are still anemic even though you are taking supplements, your healthcare provider may give you shots of iron or vitamins.
Follow your healthcare provider's orders, don't drink or smoke, and take medicines and vitamins as prescribed.
Iron tablets may cause constipation or upset your stomach. If you have these problems, it may help to:
Iron can make your bowel movements very dark or even black in color. If your bowel movements are very dark, don't be concerned. It is usually not harmful, but tell your healthcare provider.