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Anemia is a common ill-health status in humans although many people aren't aware what it means and what causes it. The condition is developed when there is a lack of red blood cells which function primarily to carry oxygen to the cells of the body. When the body cells are deprived of oxygen, this leads to unusual tiredness. This condition can affect both men and women but the situation becomes a bit troublesome in pregnant women.
What Can Trigger Anemia in a Pregnant Woman?
There are two basic ways through which the condition can occur. It can develop when there is a reduction in the production level of red blood cells and it can also develop if there is a sudden and increased loss of red blood cells. The production site of red blood cells is in the bone marrow and they are expected to live for about 4 months before they get old and destroyed. For the body of a pregnant woman to be able to produce red blood cells, there are some other materials that must be made available among which are vitamin B12, folic acid and iron. Failure for one or more of these important ingredients to be available would lead to the development of anemia in a pregnant woman. Pregnant women therefore need to take iron supplements among other ones in order to avoid the development of this condition.
Things That Can Lead To Anemia during Pregnancy
During the state of pregnancy, there is a drastic change in the physiological need of the expectant mother. There is a greater demand for iron as well as other vitamins and when this demand is not met, anemia develops. The fetus and the placenta are separate tissues and hence require their own supply of iron which would have to be supplied by the mother. To be able to withstand both the increased demand needed by her body and these tissues, the mother will have to increase her production of red blood cells.
In pregnancy, there is about 50% increase in the blood volume but there is disproportionately greater amount of plasma in the blood. The blood is then observed to have been diluted with an increase in plasma content and a decrease in hemoglobin concentration. If a blood test is conducted on a pregnant woman especially between weeks 25 and 30, this will be easily observed and at this point additional iron supplementation is required. During pregnancy, it is always advised that the woman pays attention to her diet and should make sure that she feeds on foods that can give her adequate iron.
Symptoms of Anemia during Pregnancy
There are some signs and symptoms that every pregnant women need to be wary of as these can tell of the possible development of anemia. The first on the list of such symptoms include paleness and tiredness. It can be easily observed that a pregnant woman has become anemic when she gets tired and looks pale all the time. In severe cases, headaches and chest pain may be experienced. Breathlessness and dizziness are other symptoms that may be observed during this period.
Ways anemia can affect a pregnancy
When anemia has developed in a pregnant woman, she may begin to experience some difficulty in breathing. Her breathing can become labored and difficulties in palpitations and angina may also be experienced. In heightened proportions of the condition both the lives of the mother and the yet to be born baby become threatened.
Avoiding Anemia during Pregnancy
There are some steps that can be taken towards avoiding anemia during pregnancy. One of such steps is to have a varied diet. At this stage you just can not afford to stick only to few types of diets. You must be open to a wide range of healthy foods and snacks that will keep you supplied with the needed nutrients and that will also boost your immunity.
You can avoid the risk of having a child with spina bifida by taking up to 400 micrograms of folic acid during pregnancy.
For the absorption of maximum amount of iron from the diet, pregnant women are advised to eat diets rich in vitamin C. Sources of vitamin C include raw vegetables, lemon, oranges, lime and potatoes. Beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and muesli are food types that are rich in folic acid and these should be included in the diets of pregnant women as well.