Are you tired? Short of breath? About 20 weeks into your pregnancy? Chances are you've got anaemia.
Iron is essential for you and your growing baby since it transports oxygen in the bloodstream. The volume of blood in your body increases during pregnancy. This means you need a increased amount of iron.
Symptoms of anaemia include tiredness, low energy and shortness of breath.
Eat food with a high iron content
Almost all foods contain iron, in particular meat and leafy green vegetables. However, the body only absorbs about 5-10 percent of the iron we eat. The supply of iron in your body not only depends on what you eat now, but also on the iron reserves you built up before pregnancy.
Although your body more easily absorbs iron from actual food than from supplements, it may still be difficult get enough iron through your diet. During pregnancy, it is not unusual for your iron to become so depleted that you need to take iron tablets.
Foods high in iron
• Meat and blood-based foods such as blood pudding
• Offal (however, liver is unnecessarily high in vitamin A, so choose liver pâté instead)
• Poultry and eggs
• Whole grain products
• Spinach and other leafy green vegetables
• Bananas and peaches
Help your body absorb iron
The tannin in tea inhibits your iron intake, so don't take iron and tea together. The same applies to coffee. Calcium-rich foods such as milk also interfere with iron absorption.
The body can more easily absorb iron from food or supplements if you take it with vitamin C, for instance in fruit, vegetables or orange juice.
See more tips for healthy eating during pregnancy here.
Iron supplements can cause constipation
Supplements containing iron can make you constipated, so drink lots of water and eat plenty of fruit and whole grain foods.
Make sure you keep your iron tablets out of reach of any children in your home, since they can cause poisoning.