The importance of iron during and post-pregnancy

Expecting and worried about your iron levels, or feeling low this winter? Nutritional therapist Sally Wisbey has the answers


Why is iron so important pre- and post-pregnancy?

Iron is needed for your baby’s formation of red blood cells, haemoglobin and the formation of tissue, so iron is vital in pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant you can easily become anaemic, as obviously your baby is absorbing quite a lot of your iron to develop its body. It’s really important for women to make sure they have enough iron through diet and supplements like Spatone.

Even after pregnancy, if you’re breastfeeding it’s still important because the baby is still getting all of its nutrients from you. A newborn’s nutritional foundation comes from its mother, so whatever you may be lacking in, your baby could be lacking in. It’s important that you do get enough nutrients, especially omega 3 and probiotics for good digestive health, because everything that’s going on in you will go to the baby.

How to spot an iron deficiency

The typical symptoms of an iron deficiency include fatigue, pale skin and feeling run down, and even poor memory.

If you’re feeling these symptoms, do consult your GP and get blood tests done, because an iron deficiency can also mirror Vitamin D, Vitamin B or magnesium deficiencies. Lots of women think of iron as the first ‘port of call’, which it could well be, but it’s also good to check that you’re not lacking in anything else.

After pregnancy it could be a number of those things – also check your Vitamin D levels. We don’t get much sun here in the UK (Vitamin D comes from the sun) and especially with a newborn you’re probably going to be stuck inside, so you’re probably not getting enough vitamin D.

Obviously pregnancy and having a baby exhausts you, so chances are that you could just be low in everything or it could just be lack of sleep. Try increasing your intake of fruit and veg, iron-rich foods, and lots of natural foods, and get your bloods done, which you’re entitled to from the GP or midwife. Get levels tested to try to find the underlying cause, so you know why are you’re tired.

How do you ensure you’re getting enough?

Diet-wise you can up your iron intake by getting more green leafy vegetables into your diet, through nuts and seeds, or smoothies.

You can fit a lot of fruit and vegetables into one smoothie. I meet a lot of mums who say they haven’t got time for anything but toast. While I always prescribe food before supplements, if you haven’t got time, work with them if it’s going to help you feel better.

Natural liquid iron supplement Spatone is available from Boots, Holland & Barrett and Tesco, and online. Sally Wisbey is a nutritional therapist regulated and registered with the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapies.

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