During the last trimester of pregnancy, you need to eat more foods high in iron than you normally would. This is because your body is busy making more red blood cells so as to supply enough for you and your baby. Each blood cell uses iron as a core. Iron can't be manufactured by your body; it must be absorbed from the food you eat.
Iron is found in lots of different foods, but it is difficult to absorb. This makes it hard for your body to take in enough iron to meet its needs when you are pregnant. If you don't provide your body with enough iron in your diet, your body makes fewer red blood cells. This is known as anemia. Anemia from iron deficiency is very common, and, fortunately, is fairly easy to remedy, as well.
Your body also needs a nutrient known as folate to make healthy red blood cells. Folate is easy to absorb and you can find it in most green vegetables.
What causes anemia? It's usually brought on by a poor intake of folate- and iron-rich foods. It can also be caused by the destruction of red blood cells that occurs occasionally when you're sick.
What are the symptoms and signs of anemia? Sometimes you won't experience any symptoms. But if your anemia is severe, you may feel fatigued and weak.
Can you prevent anemia? Yes, you can eat foods high in iron. These include fortified grains, dried beans, eggs, fish, chicken and meat. The type of iron that is found in meats is called heme and it is easier to absorb than the iron that's found in vegetables. If you're suffering from anemia and you already eat meat, increasing the meat that you consume will readily increase the iron that your body receives from it.
Also, it's a good idea to eat foods that are high in folic acid, like orange juice, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables and dried beans. Always eat foods that are high in vitamin C, too. This includes fresh raw vegetables, and citrus fruits.
Another way to get iron, and something people don't think of very often, is cooking with iron pots. This can add up to 80% more iron to your diet that food cooked in aluminum. Be sure to always remember to take your prenatal vitamins, and your mineral pills that contain extra folate.
You can also take vitamin and iron tablets. Since it's hard to get enough iron in your diet, you may need to take a supplement, in addition to eating foods high in iron. There is usually enough iron in your prenatal vitamin to avert anemia, but your health care provider may prescribe an extra iron supplement if you're anemic. Take it in small amounts if it upsets your stomach. You may want to take a stool softener as well. Don't take your iron supplement with calcium supplements or dairy products.