Pregnant women are at an increased risk of anaemia due to the additional body demands to support the growing baby. If left untreated, anaemia can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby, including premature birth and low birth weight.
Fortunately, anaemia in pregnancy can be managed and treated through dietary changes, iron supplements, and prenatal care under the guidance of healthcare professionals, ensuring a healthier pregnancy and delivery for the mother and a well-nourished baby.
Regular prenatal check-ups and appropriate interventions are essential for detecting and addressing anaemia to promote the well-being of both mother and child.
What is Anaemia in Pregnancy?
Anaemia in pregnancy is when a pregnant woman has lower than normal levels of red blood cells or haemoglobin in her blood. Haemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen to the body’s tissues. During pregnancy, the body requires more iron to support the growing foetus and increased blood volume. If the iron intake is insufficient or the body cannot produce enough red blood cells, it can lead to anaemia, which may cause fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and other complications. It is a common concern and can have significant implications for the mother and the developing baby.
Causes of Anaemia in Pregnancy
Anaemia during pregnancy can occur due to various factors, including:
- Iron deficiency: The most common cause of anaemia in pregnancy is a lack of iron, essential for producing haemoglobin. The body’s demand for iron increases during pregnancy to support the growing baby and the expansion of the mother’s blood volume.
- Folate deficiency: Folate (vitamin B9) is vital for the production and maturation of red blood cells. Inadequate intake of folate can lead to anaemia.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency: Another important vitamin for red blood cell production, vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to anaemia.
- Hemolysis: In some cases, anaemia can result from the destruction of red blood cells faster than it can be produced.
- Chronic diseases: Certain chronic conditions can affect red blood cell production or increase blood loss, contributing to anaemia.
- Increased Blood Volume: During pregnancy, the blood volume expands to support the growing fetus, which can dilute the concentration of red blood cells.
- Multiple Pregnancies: Women carrying twins or higher-order multiples may have an increased risk of anaemia due to the higher demands on their bodies.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients like folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin C can contribute to anaemia.
- Heavy Bleeding: Excessive or frequent bleeding during pregnancy, such as from placenta previa or placental abruption, can lead to anaemia.
Symptoms of Anaemia in Pregnancy
Anaemia in pregnancy can present with various symptoms, including:
- Feeling excessively tired and weak, even with minimal physical activity.
- Pale skin and mucous membranes
- Feeling breathless or experiencing rapid heartbeats, especially during exertion.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Reduced circulation may cause the extremities to feel cold.
- Some women may experience an uncomfortable sensation in their legs, leading to a strong urge to move them.
Treatment of Anaemia in Pregnancy
The treatment of anaemia in pregnancy focuses on addressing the underlying cause and increasing the body’s iron and nutrient stores. Some common approaches include:
- Iron and Folate Supplements: Pregnant women are often prescribed iron and folate supplements to meet the increased demand and prevent or treat anaemia. These supplements should be taken as prescribed by a healthcare provider.
- Dietary Changes: Including iron-rich foods in the diet can help boost iron levels. Foods such as lean meats, leafy green vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwis and fortified cereals are good sources of iron.
- Vitamin B12 Supplements: Supplements may be recommended if a vitamin B12 deficiency causes anaemia.
- Regular Monitoring: Pregnant women with anaemia will be monitored regularly to assess their response to treatment and ensure the anaemia is effectively managed.
- Intravenous Iron Therapy: In severe cases or when oral iron is not well-tolerated, intravenous iron may be administered under medical supervision.
- Treating Underlying Conditions: Addressing any underlying medical conditions contributing to anaemia, such as bleeding disorders or chronic illnesses.
- Monitoring and Follow-Up: Regular prenatal check-ups and blood tests to monitor the woman’s haemoglobin levels throughout pregnancy.
When to Consult a Doctor
You can also get in touch with the expert Gynecology doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during injuries, health disorders or any other health concern.
Preventing and treating anaemia during pregnancy is crucial to ensuring the health of both the mother and the baby. Routine prenatal care, including blood tests to monitor iron levels, is essential to managing anaemia in pregnancy. If you suspect you have symptoms of anaemia during pregnancy, it’s essential to seek medical advice promptly to receive appropriate evaluation and treatment. Early intervention can prevent complications and promote a healthy pregnancy journey.
Q. How does anaemia affect the baby during pregnancy?
A. Here are some ways anaemia can impact the baby during pregnancy:
- Insufficient oxygen supply
- Low birth weight
- Preterm birth
- Developmental delays
- Iron deficiency in the baby
Q. What are the symptoms of anaemia in pregnancy?
A. Common signs and symptoms of anaemia during pregnancy include:
- Feeling unusually tired or weak.
- Pale skin and mucous membranes
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Cold hands and feet
- Frequent headaches
- Brittle nails and hair loss
Q. What is the main cause of anaemia in pregnancy?
A. The main causes of anaemia in pregnancy include:
- Inadequate iron intake
- Poor iron absorption
- Multiple pregnancies
- Short intervals between pregnancies
- Teenage pregnancies
- Excessive blood loss
- Gestational blood loss
Q. What blood levels indicate anaemia in pregnancy?
A. Anaemia during pregnancy is diagnosed when the serum ferritin concentration is less than 30 μg/L, and the haemoglobin (Hb) concentration is less than 11 g/dL in the 1st trimester, less than 10.5 g/dL in the 2nd trimester, and less than 11 g/dL in the 3rd trimester. These criteria together indicate the presence of anaemia during pregnancy. Regular monitoring of these values is essential for the early detection and management of anemia in pregnant women.
Q. What are the treatments for anaemia in pregnancy?
A. Healthcare professionals recommend supplements containing iron and vitamins to treat anaemia in pregnancy.