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What is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition characterized by a reduction in red blood cells (RBCs), the blood cells that carry oxygen to various parts of your body. Anemia can sometimes occur during pregnancy since an increased supply of blood is required to support your baby’s growth. When your body does not receive enough nutrients, it is unable to produce sufficient red blood cells and results in anemia. Depending on the deficient nutrient, the three major types of anaemia that can develop during pregnancy include iron-deficiency anaemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, and folate deficiency anemia.

Symptoms of Anemia

Symptoms of anemia during pregnancy include:

  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • increased heartbeat
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • pale lips, skin, and nails.

These symptoms may not be obvious in the initial stages of the condition as many are common to normal pregnancy. Hence, routine blood tests are important to detect anemia in its early stages.

Treatments for Anemia

Treatment involves taking iron, folic acid and/or vitamin B12 supplements and including foods rich in these nutrients. You can prevent anemia by including eggs, poultry, fish, lean red meat, dark green, leafy vegetables, iron-rich cereals and nuts in your diet. Vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, and strawberries help increase the absorption of iron in your body. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, please consult your doctor regarding taking vitamin B12 supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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