Thursday, December 21, 2006

Anemia During Pregnancy May Be Caused by an Iron Deficiency

Anemia during pregnancy is a somewhat common problem. If you think you might be anemic it's important to seek care for the sake of your own health and that of your baby.

Anemia is described as a condition in which your red blood cell count is low. Red blood cells help carry oxygen to the rest of your body. An anemic person is not making enough red blood cells and as a result their health may suffer.

When you are pregnant your red blood cells generally increase. Plasma also increases but at a quicker rate. A hemocrit reading is recommended to get an adequate measure the amount of red blood cells in your bloodstream. The hemoglobin level is also tested which analyzes the amount of protein in your blood. Anemic people tend to have a hemocrat reading that is lower than 37 and their hemoglobin is fewer than 12.

Hemocratic testing is usually done at the first prenatal visit along with other routine lab work. It will likely be re-tested when you are further along and more often if you are anemic or show signs of possible anemia.

One problem with anemia during pregnancy is that once you go into labor you're at an increased risk of losing large amounts of blood and requiring a transfusion. If you are anemic, special care may be provided and it's wise to follow your care provider's advice on diet changes and the use of supplements.

Some signs of possible anemia include: sleepiness and getting worn out easily, faster than average heart beat especially when you are exercising or pushing your body too much, headache, shortness of breath, lack of ability to concentrate for long periods of time, pale skin, leg cramps, and dizziness.

There are several different kinds of anemia but during pregnancy the most likely type is iron-deficiency. If you are lacking iron then your body is unable to produce adequate amounts of red blood cells which results in iron-deficiency anemia. During pregnancy the baby uses some of your body's storage of iron to make its own blood so it's important to make sure you have enough iron stored up for yourself as well. Some signs of iron-deficiency include: fatigue, weakness and pica cravings (wanting to eat things such as clay, ice, soap, toilet paper).

While iron deficiency can possibly lead to anemia it's not always the case. It should be monitored and tested by your midwife or OB so that you and your baby can be healthy and continue developing properly.

Other less common forms of anemia include sickle cell anemia, lead poisoning anemia, b12 deficiency anemia, and chronic red blood cell destruction. Each have different signs and symptoms as well as treatment plans so it's important to see a health care provider if you suspect you might be anemic, especially if you are pregnant or would like to conceive in the near future.

By: Katherine Maestas

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