Iron deficiency in pregnancy
If you are expecting a baby, can you keep up your iron intake through diet or should you take an iron supplement? Gurgle feeding expert and registered nutritionist Sara Patience explains
Iron deficiency is when you have low iron stores in your body that, if not addressed, could lead to you developing iron deficiency anaemia. As you are iron deficient but, it seems, not anaemic, you may be able to improve this situation through diet, and have your bloods rechecked at some point to see how things are working out.
Eating healthily in pregnancy is important, both for your health and to ensure your baby is healthy before and after birth. Do discuss diet with your midwife to check you are eating well.
Thinking about iron intake, make sure you have iron-rich foods at each meal, and that any snacks you eat are nutritious. There is no need to increase the amount of food you eat at this stage of pregnancy – this is about quality, not quantity.
Meat, fish and eggs are good sources of iron, as are dark green leafy vegetables, fortified bread and cereals. Mixing non-haem iron-rich foods (that is, iron from non-meat sources) with a food containing vitamin C is thought to help absorption of the iron. This doesn’t need to be fruit juice – it could be something as simple as potato, tomato or okra.
Dried fruits can be a good source of iron but they are also a concentrated sugar source, so eat them as part of a meal, not as a snack.
As you are pregnant you should avoid liver and liver paté due to the high vitamin A content.
And for more on this subject, do check out our article on the importance of iron during and post-pregnancy.