Your body needs to get the right amount and variety of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. The iron requirement doubles during pregnancy, since your body then needs more of the mineral to make blood for the baby. While you can include iron-rich foods in your diet, your doctor may advise taking iron supplements. This post discusses the benefits, and other aspects, of taking iron supplements during pregnancy.
When should you begin taking iron supplements?
Do not start or take any supplement during pregnancy, unless advised by your doctor. Most doctors suggest a low-dose iron supplement on the first prenatal appointment, not exceeding 30 mg per day.
Are iron-rich foods enough?
It depends on various factors but, in most cases, doctors would suggest you take an iron or vitamin supplement. Some of the iron-rich foods that you could try to include in your diet are pork, beef, chicken, turkey, beans, spinach, and tofu. You could also include packaged cereals that have added iron. Nonetheless, supplements will probably still be needed.
Benefits of iron supplements
- Iron reduces the chance and intensity of having anemia during pregnancy. Women who have iron deficiency during pregnancy could be at high risk of premature delivery and their babies of having low birth weight.
- Iron supplements also help with immunity, according to many studies. Iron facilitates the transport of oxygen to the fetus through the blood. Iron helps to bind oxygen in the blood for use by the cells.
- Iron supplements also aid in preventing fatigue and tiredness during pregnancy.
What is important to remember
Your body needs at least 27 mg of iron per day during the entire pregnancy. DO NOT take more than 45 mg of iron per day during this period nor while breastfeeding. Also, iron supplements should only be taken following the advice of your doctor. There are well known side effects of taking iron supplements, especially when they are taken in higher dosages than recommended.
You should be aware hat your body may take some time to adjust to the extra iron supplement. During this period of adjustment, you may experience constipation, vomiting and nausea. If you have constipation, include fiber-rich foods in your diet. Also, you might want to split the dose into two parts.
Follow your doctor’s advice
When it comes to prenatal supplements, you must follow your doctor’s advice. It is also essential to keep a tab on your diet and food habits. Don’t take over-the counter pills during pregnancy, unless recommended by your doctor. With regards to iron supplements, below are some suggestions.
- If you miss a dose on one day, don’t double your dose the next day. Your body just needs the recommended amount of the mineral each day.
- In case of constipation, don’t stop your supplements. Talk to your doctor about using a stool softener. Eating fiber-rich foods is important, as mentioned above.
- Use supplement brands suggested by your doctor. If you have any previous issues with allergies or drug interactions, make sure you discuss them during your doctor’s appointment.