January 19, 2018
If you have ever watched those old Nigerian movies, you would definitely have seen one that illustrates the so called classic signs of pregnancy. First of all, the naïve teenager starts to throw up. An experienced woman then pulls the girl’s lower eyelid down, checks her palms and if it is pale, then pregnancy is confirmed … immediately! Paleness during pregnancy can be a result of reduced iron levels which is known as anaemia. It occurs in many pregnancies, due to the increased demand for iron by the growing baby.
Causes of anaemia
Women who are anaemic or anaemia prone even before getting pregnant due to excessive bleeding during periods, poor diet and so on are more likely to be anaemic in pregnancy. Women who are expecting more than one child are also at risk.
Signs and symptoms
When mild, anaemia may hardly present with any symptoms. If moderate to severe, symptoms like extreme fatigue, palpitations, headaches and fainting may occur. A few women start to crave absolutely strange things that are not ordinarily edible like clay and chalk. This condition is known as pica, which is also common in children.
Diagnosis of anaemia
Your doctor would request a basic blood test, PCV during your visits to the hospital. If your red cell count is found to be low, then you may be given supplements, dietary adjustments and in a serious case, a blood transfusion may be required.
Taking iron supplements and iron rich foods like vegetables, meats (the darker the better), offals, nuts, pulses, legumes and so on would help to keep the iron levels up. You should also take vitamin C supplements or fruits that contain it like citruses because Vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron well. Care must be taken with iron supplements though as they can cause stomach discomfort, constipation and dark stools. You can always contact a nutrition specialist, a gynaecologist or a general practitioner for more advice.
Anaemia in pregnancy is