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MoonDragon's Obgyn Information


Anemia During Pregnancy
"For Informational Use Only"
For more detailed information contact your health care provider
about options that may be available for your specific situation.

BASIC INFORMATION
DESCRIPTION
Anemia is defined as an inadequate level of hemoglobin during pregnancy. Hemoglobin
is the protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen to body tissues. Common anemias
in pregnancy include iron deficiency anemia (75 to 85% of cases) and folic acid
deficiency. In addition, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency,
thalassemia and sickle cell anemia have genetic implications and should receive special
evaluation.

FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Sometimes no symptoms are apparent.


Breathlessness.
Tiredness, weakness or fainting.
Paleness.

Infrequent:

Palpations or an abnormal awareness of the heartbeat.


Inflamed, sore tongue.
Nausea.
Headache.
Jaundice.

CAUSES

Poor diet with inadequate iron.


Folic-acid deficiency.
Loss of blood from bleeding hemorrhoids or gastrointestinal bleeding.
Even if iron and folic-acid intake are sufficient, a pregnant woman may become
anemic because pregnancy alters the digestive process. The unborn child consumes some
of the iron or folic acid normally available to the mother's body.
RISK INCREASES WITH

Poor nutrition, especially multiple vitamin deficiencies.


Excess alcohol consumption, leading to poor nutrition.
Medical history of any disorder that reduces absorption of nutrients.
Use of anticoagulant drugs.
Previous use of oral contraceptives.
G6PD deficiency is more common in persons of Mediterranean, African American
and Sephardic Jewish descent. Sickle cell anemia is found in African Americans and in
persons of Italian, Middle Eastern and East Indian descent.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

Eat foods rich in iron, such as liver, beef, whole-grain breads and cereals, eggs and
dried fruit.
Eat foods high in folic acid, such as wheat germ, beans, peanut butter, oatmeal,
mushrooms, collards, broccoli, beef liver and asparagus.
Eating foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and fresh, raw vegetables makes
iron absorption more efficient.
Take prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements if they are prescribed.
Screening for several anemias, e.g., G6PD deficiency and sickle cell disease in high-
risk women, should be considered prior to any attempt to become pregnant.

EXPECTED OUTCOME

Usually curable with iron and folic-acid supplements by mouth or by injection.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

Premature Labor.
Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR).
Dangerous anemia from normal blood loss during labor, requiring blood transfusions.
Increased susceptibility to maternal infection after childbirth.

TREATMENT
GENERAL MEASURES
Diagnosis is determine by laboratory blood studies.
For most anemias, supplements are prescribed and dietary assessments are made.
For G6PD deficiency, treatment is supportive and educational.
Sickle cell anemia in pregnant women requires careful medical management; usually
done by specialists.
If the tongue is red and sore, rinse with warm salt water 3 or 4 times a day. Use 1
teaspoon salt to 8 ounces warm water.
Brush teeth with a soft toothbrush.

MEDICATION

Iron, folic-acid and other supplements may be prescribed. For better absorption, take
iron-supplements 1 hour before eating or between meals. Iron will turn bowel movements
black, and often causes constipation. Iron sometimes may be taken with meals if it has
caused an upset stomach.

ACTIVITY

Rest often until the anemia disappears.

DIET

Eat well and take prescribed supplements. Increase fiber and fluid intake to prevent
constipation.

MoonDragon's Health Information - Anemia, Overview & Holistic Recommendations

NOTIFY YOUR MIDWIFE OR HEALTH CARE PRACTIONER IF...


You have symptoms of anemia during pregnancy.
The following occurs during treatment:
Diarrhea.
Nausea.
Abdominal pain.
Constipation.
Bleeding, however slight, from any source.