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 After a month of the good news, she felt tired and weak all the time. Family members told her to rejoice in the happiness and that this weakness is due to the developing life inside her. As days passed, this lethargic and fatigued state got worse. She visited her doctor, after some investigations she was found anemic. Her hemoglobin level fell to 7.5 g/dL

 

Data from BMC, Mumbai

This is the story of nearly every household in our country. When ignored, it results in preterm delivery and low birth weight. The situation is so prevalent that premature births have become a new normal. WHO reports tell us that 56% of pregnant women in developing world are anemic. 

With warm greetings of Mother’s Day to our mothers & mothers-to-be lets have an insight of the issue and how to deal with it, easily & effectively. 

 


Anemia in pregnancy

Anemia is a condition when your blood does not have enough healthy erythrocytes or red blood cells. While pregnant you may develop anemia resulting it reduced blood’s oxygen supplying capacity to your tissues and to your baby.

As we know, RBCs are the oxygen carriers in blood, which are composed of Heme & globin. Heme is a complex of iron. For production of healthy RBCs nutrients like vitamin B12 & folate are necessary. During pregnancy your body produces more blood to support the new developing life. If your diet is not rich in iron & other nutrients then your body might not be able to produce the amount of RBCs for the additional blood. If untreated, it can increase risk of serious complications like preterm delivery.

Iron deficiency anemia is widely common since iron is required in large amounts to support the mother & the fetus.

 

Risk Groups

All pregnant women are at risk for becoming anemic that is because they need more iron, Vitamin B12, folate & other nutrients than usual. But the risk is higher if you:

  • have had two pregnancies close together
  • vomit a lot because of morning sickness
  • are a pregnant teenager

Symptoms

  • feeling tired & weak
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath or dyspnea
  • rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) 
  • trouble concentrating
  • pale skin, lips & nails

Talk to your doctor if you experience these.

 

Why it Matters? 

Anemia in pregnant women is a global health challenge as it comes with the following risks:

  • Preterm or low birth weight baby
  • Baby with neural tube defects
  • Blood loss during delivery
  • Postpartum depression
  • Baby with anemia
  • Child with developmental delays

 

Treatment: Prevention is better than Cure

If you’re anemic, your doctor will prescribe you Iron supplements along with folic acid & vitamin B12 if needed. Since, we are living in COVID-19 times its better to take natural food rich in above-said nutrients to prevent anemia. Iron has low bio-availability so, its enhancers are necessary with supplements. Enhancers help body to absorb iron from the food. Meat, fish & vitamin C work like that. Vegetarians can focus on citrus fruits. Inhibitors of iron uptake should be avoided. These include polyphenols & phytates; found in tea & coffee.

Take iron rich diet and include folate & vitamin C rich foods. Vegans should add multivitamin or a vitamin B12 supplement. Such foods include:

  • lean red meat, poultry, and fish
  • leafy, dark green vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli, and kale)
  • iron-enriched cereals and grains
  • beans, lentils, and tofu
  • nuts and seeds
  • eggs
  • citrus fruits and juices
  • strawberries
  • kiwis
  • tomatoes

 

 

The paucity of information on anemia status of this vulnerable group in many regions possess a greater threat to our supermoms. On this Mother’s Day, we Ahmad & Ayesha urge you to join hands with us to take a holistic approach in addressing maternal anemia in our municipality, region & the country as a whole. Love.

 

Authors:

Ahmad Umama Jafri- Government Medical College, Badaun

Ayesha Em Ayaz – Rama Medical College, Kanpur


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