Anaemia in pregnancy is really common, and the most common form is iron deficiency anaemia. That’s because you need more red blood cells during pregnancy, as well as the demands of your growing baby and the placenta for iron. Also many women experience digestive discomfort during pregnancy, as the demands placed on the body are greater and some systems struggle to keep up a little bit. So not only including iron rich foods, but supporting your body to absorb iron is also key. Here our nutritional therapist Catherine Jeans gives you advice on how to manage anaemia in pregnancy.
Foods which are rich in iron include red meat, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli. Also parsley is a great source of iron, so sprinkle it fresh all over your food.
Other great sources of iron are dark chocolate, seeds (which is why we stock dark chocolate pumpkin seeds at our clinic… just one bag gives you half your daily iron needs), fish, eggs, blackstrap molasses (add a tablespoon to your flapjacks) and raw cocoa (fabulous as a nutritious smoothie – add a tablespoon to some banana, milk, avocado and a squirt of honey and blend).
If you are worried about your iron levels, of course do speak to your midwife. Some women also decide to take an iron supplement during pregnancy. Most pregnancy supplements should contain a good absorbable form of iron – if you are not taking a multi vitamin for pregnancy already, you could consider supplementing iron. Many women take Floradix during pregnancy, a liquid iron formula. We also stock a capsule form of highly absorbable iron, Ferrodyn, which is safe to take during pregnancy as long as you do not already have sufficient iron in your pregnancy multi.
You can also support your iron absorption with vitamin C. If you’re taking iron, take about 500mg of Vitamin C with each iron supplement. And when you eat iron rich foods, include foods which are rich in vitamin C such as berries, parsley, kiwi, red peppers, oranges and also green leafy veg, which are rich in both!
The midwives of fifties knew what they were doing when they advised pregnant women to drink a little Guinness or Irish stout, however the advice has changed on alcohol more recently and many midwives advise you to cut out alcohol completely. My advice is if you are going to have the odd alcoholic drink perhaps once a fortnight, make it a small glass of stout!