First Trimester

The Signs Of Anaemia During Pregnancy

Your iron levels need to increase during pregnancy, it’s needed for your body to make haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells in your body. Also, your growing baby needs iron, and will store it for use in the first six months of life outside the womb. Which is why you need to increase your intake of iron to prevent anaemia during pregnancy.

During pregnancy your body produces more blood. In the second half of pregnancy you will have up to 50% more blood volume. During this time it is normal for your haemoglobin levels to go down as the red blood cells can’t increase fast enough to keep up with the higher volume of blood. If you have enough stored iron (ferritin), then you won’t notice many, or even any, physical effects of lower haemoglobin levels.

But if you’re lacking enough red blood cells and stored iron to meet the increased demand pregnancy makes on your body, you could become anaemic. And if you don’t treat it, severe anaemia can increase your risk of serious complications like preterm delivery and low birth weight in your baby. It’s also associated with a higher risk of stillbirth or newborn death.

Signs of Anaemia During Pregnancy

Some women might not experience any of these symptoms while some can experience only a few of the symptoms;

  • Pale skin (especially fingernails, inside of eyelids, and lips)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Breathlessness
  • Changes in blood pressure when standing up
  • Frequent headaches
  • Irritability
  • Cracked or red tongue
  • Loss of appetite

While many of these symptoms seem common during pregnancy, but they can also be signs of iron deficiency.

Preventing anaemia during pregnancy?

Eating iron rich foods before and during pregnancy will help prevent anaemia and red meat is not the only source of iron, there are foods rich in iron that are not animal-based. Red meat, fish, poultry, liver(eat very little as it conatins vitamin A), are foods rich in haeme iron. Your body can only absorb up to 25% of the iron in haeme sources.

Non-haeme iron sources are eggs, spinach, kidney beans and lentils, almonds, and iron fortified cereals and less than 5% of iron from non-haeme sources is absorbed. Although, eating foods rich in vitamin C with non-haeme sources can improve absorption of the available iron.

Here are some foods that reduce the absorption of iron; coffee, tea and wine, and milk. So while taking iron supplements do not take it with milk.

And if you suspect you are deficient in iron, speak to your doctor who will order a iron test and prescribe the necessary drugs.

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Early Signs That You Might Be Pregnant

Most women don’t suspect or think they are pregnant until they notice that they have missed their menstrual period, but even before then there would have been some signs that you are pregnant.

Pregnancy symptoms begin at 4 weeks. Normally you get your period about 4 weeks from the start of your last period, but if you’re pregnant, the clearest sign at this point is a missed period. Many women still feel fine at 4 weeks, but others may notice sore breasts, fatigue, frequent urination, and nausea. Since every woman is different they have different symptoms during pregnancy.

And some of the earliest signs that you are pregnant include:

  • Shortness of Breath -You might be begin to notice that the normal distance that you would normally take has suddenly become a chore.
  • Sore Breasts – you would probably begin to notice that your breast feel tender and heavy. Pronounced veins and darkened areola are said to be the first sign that you are pregnant.
  • Fatigue – You would begin to get exhausted easily. This tiredness usually continues all through the first trimester and get better by the second trimester.
  • Nausea – For a lot of women nausea usually starts at the about 6 weeks but some might begin to feel nauseous from the 4th week of pregnancy and usually reduces by the second semester. Pregnant women are advised the manage the nausea by taking crackers and ginger tea.
  • Frequent Urination – You might begin to notice that your visit to the toilet has become more frequent than usual. This occurs are mainly because the blood flow to the woman’s kidneys increases. This increased urine production peaks by about 9 to 16 weeks of the pregnancy, then settles down.
  • Headaches – You might begin to notice that you are having headaches frequently this is usually as a result of the changes in hormones happening in your body. If you are pregnant it is advised that to handle the headaches you seek the advice of your doctor for safe painkillers to use.
  • Backaches – If you don’t normally have backaches, you might begin to notice that your back is sore. This happens because your ligaments are becoming loose and this would probably continue all through your pregnancy as your baby becomes bigger.
  • Cravings or Food Aversions – If you begin to crave or suddenly can’t stand some food that you eat normally it might be an early sign of pregnancy.
  • Constipation and Bloating – if you suddenly begin to feel constipated or bloated it could be a sign of pregnancy. It might be extra progesterone due to pregnancy, which slows down your digestive system.
  • Mood Swings – Most pregnant women go through different emotion mainly due to the increase of hormones. Some moms-to-be experience heightened emotions, both good and bad, while others feel more depressed or anxious.
  • Heightened Sense of Smell – If you are suddenly sensitive to different smell it might be because you are pregnant.
  • Dizziness – We have seen it in a lot of movies but its is actually based on reality. If you suddenly begin to feel dizzy it could be a sign that you are pregnant.
  • Spotting or Light Bleeding – It is usually earlier than normal and very light unlike your normal period. You may actually be experiencing implantation bleeding, where the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall and causes a little bloodshed.
  • Missed Period– This usually one of the most obvious signs of pregnancy and it is at this point that people begin to take note of the other symptoms they have been feeling. Missed period would only be noticed if the person’s period is usually regular.
  • Positive Pregnancy Test– This usually gives a more definite answer to whether you are pregnant or not and it can be done anywhere.

It is usually advised that after taking a home pregnancy test, you should also go to the hospital to take a blood test. Then if it comes out positive your doctor would be able to advise you on the next step to take to ensure a smooth pregnancy and safe delivery.


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