Anemia During Pregnancy

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Topic Overview

What is anemia during pregnancy?

Anemia during a healthy pregnancy is common. Anemia means your red blood cell level is low. It can happen when you're pregnant because your body is working hard to make more blood to help your baby grow.

Sometimes anemia during pregnancy can be caused by other problems, including not having enough iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12. Each type of anemia is treated differently.

What are the symptoms?

Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. That's why when you have anemia, you may feel dizzy, tired, and weak. You may also feel your heart pounding or feel short of breath. It may be hard to focus and think clearly.

Cravings for nonfood items such as dirt, ashes, clay, or chalk can be a sign of iron deficiency anemia.

How is anemia during pregnancy diagnosed?

As a routine part of your prenatal visits, your doctor will take some of your blood to test. Tests may include a complete blood count to look at your red blood cells.

How is it treated?

Eat a balanced diet that includes healthy, iron-rich foods. Some women need to take iron pills along with prenatal vitamins. Others may need a vitamin like folic acid or vitamin B12.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRebecca Sue Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofAugust 30, 2016