During your early visits with the midwife, you may have heard the word anaemia come up once or twice. Not to get too scientific, but this is a term for a deficiency in the number of red blood cells, which most commonly results in feeling tired.
There are different types of anaemia, but the one most associated with pregnancy is iron deficiency anaemia. Iron produces red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen in the blood. Women tend to lose a lot of iron during pregnancy as your baby needs extra to ensure it has a sufficient blood supply and gets enough nutrients and oxygen. So it’s vital that you get enough iron.
As well as tiredness, symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia can include shortness of breath and heart palpitations as well as headaches and even difficulty swallowing, but the latter two are rare. The condition can usually be diagnosed by your GP with a simple blood test.
Your GP or midwife might recommend a course of iron supplements during your pregnancy. But for a more natural solution, sources include vitamin C – so citrus fruits and juice – lean red meat, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, wholegrain bread and brown rice. Also, stock up on nuts, seeds, pulses and beans.
Try avoiding tea and coffee as they can make it more difficult for your body to absorb iron.