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Since our childhood days, all of us have been taught that calcium, iron and vitamins are essential nutrients that the human body needs. However, not all of us are aware of the fact that the demand of the body for these nutrients varies over a period of time.
While the general state of health of an individual does have a role in this, no one can deny the effect of the age of a person and his or her sex in all of this. Thus, taking all of this into consideration, it will be fair to say that although all women who are in sound reproductive health (that is they have their periods every month) are at a risk of iron deficiency due to the frequent loss of blood.
However, women who are carrying a child are at a much graver risk of iron deficiency. This is because during this period of life, the human heart works harder than normal in order to ensure that adequate nutrition reaches the fetus.
To cope with this increase in demand, the body increases its blood volume by 30 to 50 per cent. This massive increase in blood volume often makes the amount of iron and folic acid that are present in the body insufficient and result in the risk of a deficiency.
This risk takes a much more serious turn, as it has been seen that women who have iron deficiency in their pregnancy are at a much higher risk of getting into complications during labor and delivery. This article explores the various tips to overcome iron deficiency in pregnancy.
• Make Sure That You Have Iron Deficiency
It is to be noted that self-diagnosis is something that you must avoid throughout your pregnancy. Hence, do not go for increasing your iron intake unless and until you are absolutely sure that your body is deficient in the same. Overdosing on iron supplements is dangerous for you as well as for your baby. It may even cause liver problems for you.
• Ensure What You Consume Is Being Absorbed
A common problem in pregnant women is that they often tend to take the medications; but the same refuses to be absorbed by their body. To deal with this, make sure that you take the doctor prescribed iron supplement at least two to four hours before taking antacids. This will ensure that the antacids and iron will work independently and the action of one will not interfere with that of the other.
• Amend Your Diet
Now that you are pregnant, your diet should undergo some major changes to cater to your changing bodily needs. Make sure that a greater quantity of iron-rich food makes its way to your daily meal. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are an absolute must. You can also go for red meat, poultry, beans, peas, cereal, fortified milk and pasta. Consumption of a moderate quantity of dry fruits on a daily basis is also encouraged.
• Understand The Role Of Vitamin C
It is often seen that pregnant women take sufficient quantity of iron-rich food but the same reuses to be absorbed by the body. This may be due to the lack of vitamin C in the body. Thus, it is a good practice to include Vitamin C-rich food in the same diet as that of iron-rich food, so that whatever iron is being consumed is retained well and the body does not lose it out in the form of bowel movements. Hence, pregnant women should go for consumption of citrus fruits, beetroot, carrot, tomatoes, kiwi, melon strawberries and bell peppers.
• Know When To Team It And When Not To
It is to be noted that the iron found from animals is absorbed way more easily than the iron we get from plants. Thus, if plant iron is your main source of iron during pregnancy, make it a point to team it up with the Vitamin C sources as discussed above, in order to ensure optimum absorption. In case you are a non-vegetarian and animal iron is your primary source of iron, you do not really have to worry about the part on retention and absorption.
• Change Your Cooking Utensils
In this era of microwave cooking, the first and foremost thing that comes to our mind when we speak about cooking utensils is whether the utensil is microwaveable or not. However, the fact remains that there are many other things that must be brought to our consideration. As per recommendations issued by the RDA, it has been stated that cooking with cast iron pots can add up to 80 per cent more iron to one's food. Thus, it is always recommended that you cook your food in cast iron pots, especially when preparing the same for a pregnant woman.
• Force Yourself To Eat
It is understandable that with pregnancy and all those hormonal changes you might not feel like eating at all. But try to understand that if you do not have a nutritious diet, it will only put greater pressure on your body and lead to iron deficiency. Iron deficiency during pregnancy may also prove to be fatal for the baby. Thus, in order to avoid all of that, make sure you eat sufficient food, irrespective of whether you are suffering from morning sickness or not.
• Do Not Lose Hope
If you are somebody who was feeling weak in the early weeks of pregnancy and subsequent diagnosis by your doctor has led to the conclusion that you have iron deficiency, do not expect things to change overnight. It often takes pregnant body months to build up the iron reserve that it needs to prepare for labor and delivery. Thus, even if you do not notice immediate changes in your body, you must not lose hope. Rather, you must continue to give your body the daily dose of nutrition that it needs.