Anemia during Pregnancy

Anemia during Pregnancy

Last update: 06 July, 2018

Anemia during pregnancy is a complication that is caused by iron depletion below normal levels in a pregnant woman’s body.

Anemia is a very common complication during pregnancy. According to the statistics, 95% of pregnant women are affected by this condition.

Anemia is caused by a decrease in iron below normal levels. Iron is essential when it comes to making hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that is present in the blood. Its main function is to transport oxygen to other cells.

What happens during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, women have 50% more blood in their systems than under normal conditions. This means that their iron intake has to be increased in order to produce more hemoglobin to transport oxygen.

How to recognize anemia during pregnancy

One of the main symptoms of anemia during pregnancy is fatigue. Another common symptom is tachycardia. Paleness and fatigue can also be noted.

These symptoms occur because there are fewer red blood cells to transport oxygen, therefore the heart must work harder.

Anemia during Pregnancy

It’s also important to bear in mind that some types of anemia are asymptomatic, especially when they are mild. That’s why gynecologists always order blood tests during the first prenatal visit. Blood tests are a reliable way to detect anemia.

Anemia doesn’t only develop at the beginning of the pregnancy, it can occur at any time. That’s why blood tests should be performed routinely throughout pregnancy.


The most frequent cause of anemia during pregnancy is lack of iron. This however, is not the only cause. Low levels of Vitamin B12 and folic acid can also cause anemia.

Loss of blood and sickle cell anemia are other causes of the condition. There are cases in which the anemia is actually lower than what blood tests indicate.

This occurs because during pregnancy, the presence of other fluids in the blood increase in what is known as hemo-dilution. This phenomenon is characterized by a normal quantity of iron and hemoglobin that has been diluted in other liquids.


Fortunately, anemia during pregnancy can be treated . Daily doses of 30mg of iron are recommended. This intake is 30% more than daily recommendations under normal circumstances.

“If the blood tests confirm the presence of anemia in pregnancy, gynecologists order supplements of between 60 and 120 mg of iron per day.”

In order to absorb the iron efficiently, these tablets are recommended on an empty stomach. The intake of orange juice can also help in the process of iron absorption thanks to the presence of vitamin C.

On the contrary, don’t take iron pills with milk. Calcium interferes with iron absorption.


In order to prevent anemia, experts recommend consuming a diet that is rich in iron. Red meat is an excellent source of iron.

In general, most meats are a great source of this mineral. Seafood can also be beneficial when it comes to preventing anemia during pregnancy.

Anemia during Pregnancy

In addition, legumes, raisins and potatoes are also excellent sources of iron. Dates, nuts, apricots and tofu are good options if you’d like to increase your iron levels.

Fish is rich in iron, but it should be consumed cautiously during pregnancy. Fish poisoning can be very dangerous for the mother to be.

It’s important to prevent anemia during pregnancy. In the case of anemia caused by a lack of iron, the baby usually takes it from the mother. This could leave the mother with an iron deficit after delivery.

Anemia can cause your child to suffer from different ailments during their childhood. Incorporating a healthy diet and realizing routine blood tests will help prevent the deficiency of iron and other nutrients that are vital for the child’s development.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Sun D, McLeod A, Gandhi S, Malinowski AK, Shehata N. Anemia in Pregnancy: A Pragmatic Approach. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2017 Dec;72(12):730-737
  • Langan RC, Goodbred AJ. Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Recognition and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2017 Sep 15;96(6):384-389.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.