Anemia in pregnancy: what to eat?

What are the symptoms of anemia in pregnancy? What are the risks to the fetus? And above all, what to eat to prevent or counteract iron deficiency while pregnant?

While pregnant it is quite common to suffer from anemia , i.e. a lack of iron in the blood .

Especially in the third trimester , in fact, the need for this mineral increases considerably and expectant mothers are not always able to introduce it in adequate quantities with the diet .

Anemia in pregnancy: symptoms

Iron deficiency can manifest itself with several symptoms , including:

  • tiredness
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • heachache
  • palpitations
  • pallor

Furthermore, it can sometimes give rise to the so-called restless legs syndrome , a sort of discomfort or tingling in one or both legs which occurs mainly in the evening or at night and which disappears with movement .

In the presence of these symptoms, even if they are not very specific, it is always a good idea to inform your trusted gynecologist , who will ascertain any anemia through the appropriate tests and evaluate the prescription of special supplements .

Anemia in pregnancy: risks for the fetus

severe iron deficiency during pregnancy can have serious consequences not only for the mother but also for the future baby . This condition, in fact, increases the risk of premature birth , low birth weight and postpartum depression .

In addition, babies born to anemic mothers are more likely to develop iron deficiency themselves in the first few months of life .

Anemia in pregnancy: what to eat?

To prevent anemia in pregnancy, it is essential to follow a correct and balanced diet , which includes foods with a high iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 content such as:

  • legumes
  • Whole grains
  • dark green leafy vegetables
  • meat
  • fish
  • egg

In this regard, it is important to underline that iron of vegetable origin ( non-heme iron ) is assimilated with greater difficulty than animal iron ( heme iron ).

To improve its absorption , however, it is sufficient to adopt the following strategies:

  • consume foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin A or folic acid at the same meal . For example, you can add lemon juice to the legume soaking water or combine a tomato salad with a cereal dish ;
  • accompany the vegetables with a second course based on meat or fish . These foods, in addition to containing heme iron , are rich in cysteine , a substance capable of increasing the absorption of non-heme iron by 2-3 times ;
  • flavor dishes with aromatic herbs . Besides being natural sources of vitamins A and C, these foods keep the acidity of the gastric juices high , favoring the absorption of iron;
  • avoid pairing with foods rich in calcium or tannins (such as tea and coffee) . Consumed in the same meal, these substances hinder the assimilation of the iron contained in the dishes.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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