Anemia is a physical ailment caused by a lack of healthy red blood cells . It occurs regularly during pregnancy and can significantly reduce the well-being of women. In addition, it involves certain risks to your health and that of your baby, which can be avoided with proper prevention and treatment .
The main cause of anemia is a lack of red blood cells, which prevents the body’s tissues from receiving enough oxygen. When that happens, many organs and functions are affected. The most common health consequences are fatigue, dizziness, labored breathing, headaches and paleness in the mother and others, of varying severity, in the fetus .
In fact, although anemia occurs in a high percentage of pregnant women, it is not usually serious. There may be cases of particular concern where it is associated with a low birth weight of the baby, premature delivery and, in extreme cases, maternal mortality.
The risk of anemia increases in pregnant women because their body produces more blood to provide nutrients to the fetus . Most of these cases are mild and easily treated with early diagnosis. Hence the importance of exhaustive control and prevention measures to prevent it from appearing.
Below, we detail everything you need to prevent, identify and treat anemia during pregnancy .
Types of anemia
Anemia can present itself in more than 400 different forms . However, the most common types during pregnancy are the following:
iron deficiency anemia
It occurs in percentages that are around 15 to 25 percent of all pregnancies. Iron is a mineral found in red blood cells and carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Helps muscles store and use oxygen. When too little iron is produced, the body can feel fatigued and the immune system is weakened, increasing the possibility of infections.
Folic acid deficiency anemia
Folate or folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that is excreted in the urine. Therefore, it is necessary to increase its levels in the body through diet. Folic acid plays a valuable role in helping prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy. Its deficiency has effects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
Many women take folate as a supplement, but it can also be found in foods such as cereals, leafy vegetables, bananas, melons, and legumes.
Anemia due to lack of vitamin B12
Red blood cells are produced with the necessary participation of vitamin B12. When our diet is rich in beef and poultry, seafood, dairy and eggs, the body normally has B12 in adequate amounts. But there are times when the body cannot process the vitamin and anemia occurs.
Symptoms of anemia in pregnancy
Sometimes anemia can go unnoticed by the person suffering from it. The symptoms may be mild initially and gradually increase, as this ailment presents itself in a more intense way.
It is then that the person’s situation worsens and the alarm signals increase clearly and clearly. Next, we highlight some of the main effects that a pregnant woman who suffers from anemia notices, although it is important to note that one or more of these symptoms can be suffered without necessarily implying that she suffers from this ailment . Hence the importance that, in any case, when the person has general discomfort, combined with any of these symptoms, they go to the doctor for a diagnosis made by a specialist.
Some common symptoms of anemia are:
- Lack of strength, tiredness.
- Difficult breathing
- Cardiac arrhythmia or tachycardia.
- Chest pain.
- Pale skin, lips, and nails.
- Excessively low temperature in feet and hands.
On the other hand, there are numerous indications that severe maternal anemia in pregnancy has effects such as pregnancy complications , although there are no conclusive studies in this regard. Very low hemoglobin levels are also believed to lead to premature labor, miscarriage, and low birth weight.
Causes of anemia during pregnancy
The main reason why pregnant women tend to have anemia is, as we have said, increased blood production and a lack of red blood cell levels, which, in turn, are responsible for bringing oxygen to the cells. different parts of the body
This drop in hemoglobin levels during pregnancy is caused by a greater expansion of the plasma volume compared to the increase in the volume of red blood cells, erythrocytes or red blood cells . This disproportion between the rates of increase in plasma and erythrocytes has a higher incidence during the second trimester of pregnancy .
Among the situations that favor the appearance of anemia are the following:
- Not eating enough iron-rich foods or the inability of the body to absorb the iron that is consumed.
- Pregnancy, in itself, is a factor that favors the appearance of anemia. The reason is that the iron that is produced is necessary for a woman’s body to increase its own blood volume. If the body does not achieve an increase in the amount of iron, it does not have enough to nourish the blood flow to the fetus.
- Heavy bleeding, an ulcer or polyp, or donating blood causes red blood cells to be destroyed faster than they can be replaced.
- Women with multiple pregnancies, especially those with two or more pregnancies in a very short period of time.
- Nausea and vomiting typical of pregnant women in the early hours of the morning can also contribute to the onset of anemia.
Treatment of anemia
To combat the appearance of anemia there is a simple solution. It consists of increasing the amount of iron that the body receives . And the most efficient way is through the intake of this mineral through a diet rich in meat, eggs, legumes and dairy .
Another way to raise iron levels in the body is through food supplements . To take the appropriate ones, we must have the corresponding medical prescription, after analyzing the health situation of the pregnant woman.
If there is no history of anemia in the pregnant woman, the doctor usually recommends supplements with small doses of iron, which are given orally from the fourth month.
In cases where iron deficiency is prior to pregnancy, iron should be administered from the beginning of the pregnancy, although there are times when intolerance to supplement pills occurs in the first months of pregnancy.
On the contrary, exceeding adequate levels of iron in the blood impairs the health of the pregnant woman and can cause various ailments, among which are common problems of excess weight, hypertension, viscosity in the blood or delayed intrauterine growth.
Prevention, in this and other common problems that arise during pregnancy, is essential for a calm and healthy pregnancy . Like treatment, prevention consists of eating an adequate diet , which provides the body with sufficient doses of iron.
More specifically, the following are foods rich in iron :
- Meat, especially red meat.
- Dark green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, kale, and spinach).
- Beans and lentils.
There are circumstances in which it can be difficult to eat such a rigid diet high in iron. That is why in many cases the aforementioned supplements are used.
Pregnant women need about 27 milligrams of iron daily . But, depending on the type of iron or iron supplement consumed, the dosage varies. The pregnant woman should speak with her doctor to find out the necessary dose in each case.
But there is another way to promote the absorption of iron from the foods we eat . Consuming products high in vitamin C we help the body in this process. Therefore, we can add foods rich in this vitamin to our diet, such as the following:
- Citrus and juices.
Antacids can also interfere with the absorption of iron, so we must make sure to take this mineral two hours before or four hours after administering substances to treat heartburn.
Accompaniment of specialists and delivery without complications
As in any process that involves health risks, a pregnancy requires a series of precautions, the pertinent controls and healthy lifestyle habits , in addition to the accompaniment of specialist doctors throughout the period.
It is the doctor who indicates the need for a complete blood test , usually in early pregnancy. In addition to an analysis in the first weeks of gestation, usually around 28 weeks another is carried out. It is done to tabulate the blood composition and, where appropriate, it is the specialist who makes the diagnosis after this test.
With the proper precautions and the necessary discipline in every pregnancy, suffering from anemia should not entail major complications . Prevention and treatment measures are often effective and help a smooth and successful delivery for both the mother and her baby.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.