Pregnancy associated Anaemia
Anaemia is a stage when your blood doesn’t have ample quantity of Red blood cells or the red blood cells being produced are qualitatively faulty. As a result, there is difficulty in carrying enough oxygen to your own body tissues and when you are pregnant, deficiency of oxygen supply may even occur to your baby. It is common for women to develop anaemia during pregnancy since your body needs to produce more healthy red blood cells to support your developing baby. Also, there is a disproportionate increase in plasma volume in comparison to RBCs. So, mild anaemia is more or less a regular feature in pregnant women. If a lady was anaemic prior to conceiving, the problem aggravates during pregnancy.
Anaemia can be detected by checking the serum ferretin levels.
There are variable causes behind occurrence of Anaemia in pregnancy. To list the most common ones…
- If there is a lack of iron: Iron deficiency anaemia occurs
- When certain vitamins like B12 and folic acid are deficient: Pernicious or megaloblastic anaemia occurs. This is particularly dangerous as it can lead to nervous disturbances in the mother as well as the developing fetus. In foetus/ baby it might lead to spinal cord defect called Spina Bifida.
- Inadvertent loss of blood due to conditions like piles or stomach ulcers.
- Anaemia is more common if, a woman has two closely spaced pregnancies. If there is insufficient gap between two pregnancies, the odds of developing severe anaemia are significantly higher.
- Also, needless to say, the risk of pregnancy associated anaemia increases many folds, if, a woman is expecting twins or triplets.
The most common symptoms associated with anaemia are:
- Tiredness or Fatigue.
- Breathlessness or shortness of breath.
- Paleness of skin, nails and mucosal surfaces like inner aspect of cheek, lower palpebral conjunctiva.
- Palpitations, that is, awareness of one’s own heartbeat.
- Something as innocuous as, frequent headaches.
- Lack of concentration
- Spooning of nails.
- Unusual non food cravings like that for sucking ice, paper and clay in particular. That should ring a bell.
- Difficulty in swallowing.
As you can make out from the list, most of the symptoms are non specific and one usually thinks of them as a normal feature of pregnancy. That is why, it is of utmost importance to go in for regular health checkups, especially, during second and third trimester, as a lady might be suffering from progressive anaemia and If unchecked, it may lead to serious complications like preterm labour and low birth weight in baby. Also, there is an unfortunate risk of still birth
Preventions that can be exercised to prevent anaemia:
Consume a rich and healthy diet with sufficient iron and other essential vitamins.
You might want to go for regular health checkups with your physician or gynaecologist. As, in addition to diet, some women might need Iron and vitamin supplements. The quantity of supplementation varies from individual to individual and usually lies in the range of, 60 to 120mg of elemental Iron. A particularly important precaution while taking Iron supplements is that you cannot and should not take these with milk. Also, there has to be a sufficient gap between taking your supplement and consumption of any antacid or calcium supplements.
Make it a part of your habit to consume lots of raw fruits and vegetables along with dry fruits.
Foods that are particularly rich in folic acid include most beans, Brussels sprouts, certain varieties of Fish, fortified soy products, low fat dairy products, cheese, fortified cereals and eggs. Rich sources of Iron include: Green leafy vegetables, nuts, dates, apricots, beans and pulses, fortified and whole grain cereals.
Hope, you found this article useful.