Iron & Pregnancy
Throughout your pregnancy it is important that you have an adequate dietary intake of iron.
Iron is important to both you and your baby for the following reasons:
- Iron is essential for the development of red blood cells and haemoglobin. If you have a low iron level you may often feel tired and low in energy.
- When you are pregnant you need extra iron for the formation of your baby’s blood as well as the placenta and your own blood – your blood volume will increase by around 25-30% during pregnancy.
At your first visit you will have a blood test to check your iron levels at the beginning of your pregnancy. Many women will often have low levels at the beginning or throughout the pregnancy.
You can improve your iron levels by increasing your dietary intake of:
- Red meat, chicken and fish
- Wholegrain breads and cereals
- Leafy green vegetables
Vitamin C assists the absorption of iron. You can increase your dietary intake of Vitamin C with oranges, broccoli, red and green capsicum, tomatoes, berries and kiwi fruit.
Caffeine reduces the absorption of iron, so it is best to avoid drinking tea or coffee with meals to maximize the iron absorption from your food.
You will have your iron levels monitored throughout your pregnancy and if at any point your levels have fallen below the normal range you will be advised to take an iron supplement to get your levels back up.
Iron tablets are available to purchase at your local pharmacy without a prescription. The usual dose is one tablet daily, and it is best taken in the morning on an empty stomach with a glass of orange juice.
The most common iron tablets that are suitable to take during pregnancy and recommended by the doctor are FGF, Ferrogradument, Fefol, Fabiron or spatone (liquid supplement).
Iron tablets commonly cause nausea and/or constipation. If either of these side effects occur, try taking them with food, and you should increase your fluid intake and consider fibre supplements for constipation.
Please note if you are taking an iron supplement it is normal for your stools to turn a dark brown or black colour.
For any further information on iron and iron supplements you can discuss this with Marcia or the midwife at your next appointment.