Low Iron in Pregnancy – Anemia, Symptoms and Iron Infusions
Hey hey lovelies, how’s it going? Today on the blog I wanted to share a post related to this pregnancy. I haven’t written loads about pregnancy but it was a topic which crept up on me, and, when doing my own research, there wasn’t much written about it! It being low iron levels in pregnancy and anemia. I found a few blog posts and forum threads but not loads. So I wanted to share my experience in the hope that it may help other mums out there too. I’ve also included other blogger experiences, so there’s a whole range of stories.
Low iron wasn’t something which affected me with the little man. I seemed to sail through pregnancy relatively unscathed. A bit of nausea and vomiting at week eight and split stomach muscles. But that was it really in terms of physical problems. All my pregnancy issues were mental ones. So being sick at week eight wasn’t easy for me with a vomit phobia.
What is Low Iron?
Iron is important! It’s needed to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body. When you’re pregnant, you’ll have a number of blood tests which will check your iron levels. If they are low, your midwife will let you know.
What are the Symptoms?
I didn’t realise I had low iron until I had bloods done at week 28 or so. Before this, there were plenty of symptoms which I just put down to pregnancy. And being a bit older and less fit than I was when carrying B. Symptoms for me included breathlessness, tiredness, a rapid heartbeat and dizziness.
Other symptoms you might find are weakness, pale skin and headaches.
What Can you Eat to Boost Iron?
A quick Google will give you some ideas for things to eat to boost your iron levels. So think red meat, leafy green veg, fish and shellfish and dried fruit. I’ve been eating a lot of dried apricots as they’ve helped with constipation after taking iron supplements!
For me, my midwife prescribed ferrous Fumarate tablets. These are used to treat iron deficiency anemia. I’d been taken two tablets a day for 8 weeks but saw only a small improvement in my iron levels. This is when it was recommended that I have two iron infusions. Quite a few people don’t tolerate the iron supplements well but fortunately they caused no nausea or stomach problems for me.
What is an Iron Infusion?
An iron infusion is basically where iron is delivered direct through an intravenous line. You’ll have a cannula placed either in a vein in your arm or back of your hand. This will be hooked up to a bag of medication. For me, they used Venofer.
To be honest when I was told I needed these, I got really stressed and anxious. I hate any medical procedures and I just wasn’t mentally prepared for this. The thought of the cannula stressed me and I worried that the medication would make me feel or be sick. I honestly didn’t need to worry though. I put Emla cream on my arm and this literally numbs the skin. I didn’t feel the cannula go in at all. The IV took about 20 minutes and although I felt on edge the whole time, I found Candy Crush helped, as did talking to the midwives on duty. And envisaging it was just a bit of Red Bull!
I’d read that the drip can leave a metallic taste in your mouth. I didn’t have any odd tastes thankfully. I did chew gum throughout though, and I ate some Love Heart sweets. Maybe these helped? I can’t be 100% sure!
And now let’s take a read of some more experiences from other bloggers. It seems iron deficiency and anemia is not uncommon!
Each Pregnancy is Different
“I suffered from anemia in my first pregnancy but I can barely remember how it made me feel. My second pregnancy I sailed through very easily. I’m now 34 weeks with my third baby and have felt pretty pants throughout. I was told my iron levels were normal but I’ve constantly felt tired and drowsy so took it upon myself to start taking iron supplements which I found to really help.” Crazy Tots and Me.
“I suffered bad anemia during my second pregnancy. All I wanted to do was sleep. I then ended up with low platelets due to it and ended up being put to sleep to deliver baby a couple of weeks early.” Mummy That’s Me.
I’d Had Enough of Everyone Doing Things for Me!
“I suffered with anemia with my third child. I lost a lot of blood after delivery and there was talk of a transfusion but I ended up on iron tablets. I felt dreadful. I recall being determined to wash my daughters hair one night after I’d had enough of everyone doing things for me. I had to lie down afterwards, I was so exhausted. After weeks of being on the iron tablets I had a blood test that showed my levels had gone from 16 to 17, they should be at least 30 from memory. I was so disheartened. I decided to have daily kale and spinach smoothies and that seemed to help much more. Kizmetcava.
I Craved Petrol!
“I started to crave non food items such as coal, soot and petrol … I found myself standing at the petrol station with my baby in the pram just for the smell! My nails started to turn up at the sides. My hair started to fall out more than is normal postpartum. My gums and inner eyelids were really pale. My skin was pale. I was constantly tired and struggled to even walk up the stairs. I had palpitations and couldn’t breathe properly.” Arthurwears.
Iron Supplements Made me Feel Sick
“Towards the end of my pregnancy and I was diagnosed with anemia. I found traditional iron supplements made me feel sick, which considering I’d not long finished having severe morning sickness was just awful. Thankfully my midwife suggested Spatone, which is a liquid iron supplement that you mix into orange juice. That was do much easier on my stomach.” The Blog Genie.
“I suffered with anemia during my pregnancy. I found iron tablets where making me feel sick I was on 3 a day. I ended up losing 25% of my blood at birth and had to have 2 transfusions . It took 6 months to recover.” Cups of Charlotte.
“I suffered in both my full term pregnancies and for months after. After a horrible experience of taking the tablets I never ever would again. They caused so much pain and discomfort that I urged my doctors to prescribe Spatone, which is easier to take, faster absorbed and doesn’t cause the constipation issues.” Emmys Mummy.
“Iron tablets didn’t work for me so they gave me Ferinject.” Georgina Clarke Blog.
Look for the Signs
“I suffered from anemia during all three of my pregnancies. My last pregnancy it wasn’t diagnosed and treatment started until later in my pregnancy – despite me saying that I felt that I had all the same symptoms as before. The knock on effect from this was that I had to have a high dose of iron supplements in a short space of time as I was booked for an elective c-section and had previously had issues with my blood levels on my previous sections. Also worth noting that when you have your second, third child you get fewer midwife appointments as you’ve already done it once which in turn leads to fewer blood tests and opportunities to raise concerns on how you are feeling.” Boo Roo and Tigger Too.
“I was severely anemic through both my pregnancies but it was undetected for a long time – I just thought exhausted was how you felt when pregnant first time around. While I was pregnant I had lots of additional tests, took iron tablets which my body coped with thankfully, and monitored really well but all of that stopped the minute I gave birth although was still anemic. My kids are now 9 & 11 but I am still anemic having just been diagnosed again.” My Boys Club.
“I had hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) during pregnancy and then lost a lot of blood in labour so when I gave birth I was extremely anemic and needed iron infusions for 2 weeks (every other day).” Just Average Jen.
“I suffered with anemia with all my pregnancies. With number 5 it fell really low and I had to have an iron transfusion. It was quite a while about 4-5 hrs to have done. They even sent a doctor out to come and find me as they had tried calling and couldn’t get hold of me, that’s how low they were and they wanted me in straight away.” Mummy of Five Staying Sane.
“I suffered in both my. Pregnancies and ever since (2 years on) it makes me feel awful really tired and lethargic… I had iron supplements but it hardly made a difference apart from the black poo!” Mumma and Her Monsters.
“I lost a LOT of blood when my first was born, apparently I was on the line for a blood transfusion, but I just got away with it. Many many times I felt like I was going to just got the floor. I recommend taking the tablets with orange juice, it really helped.” Mummies Waiting.
I had to have a Blood Transfusion
“I was anemic during pregnancy and had to have strong iron tablets (which my dog then ate and had to have her stomach pumped!) I lost a lot of blood during my first birth and had to have 2 blood transfusions. I didn’t realise how weak I had been and how long it took to recover until I gave birth to my daughter and bounced back so much quicker.” Free From Farm House.
Other Conditions and Complications
“I have crohns so was very paranoid about my iron level as they get checked quite often anyway. I was fine both times, however I lost a lot of blood with H’s birth and had a transfusion which made a huge and very instant difference.” New Mummy Blog.
“I have Alpha Thalassemia Trait and lost a lot of blood when I gave birth. My midwife kept a close eye on me and told me to eat lots of dried apricots, dark chocolate covered raisins and broccoli.” Read more about Alpha Thalassemia Trait here.
“I ended up severely anemic with my youngest son (and throughout all pregnancies) and needed multiple iron infusions. At the time I had a 6 month old baby, an 18 month and a 9 year old and so being pregnant and anemic was EXHAUSTING to say the least. At one point I ended up on bed rest due to passing out every time I stood up, it wasn’t the easiest pregnancy to say the least.” Five Little Doves.
Iron Levels Dictated Where I Gave Birth
I suffered from anaemia in both of my pregnancies and spent more time in the blood testing unit than anywhere else! I had to have weekly blood tests and iron tablets and drinks. The hospital I was allowed to give birth in was governed by my iron levels.” Living the Harmon Life.
It Made My Postpartum Journey Difficult
I’ve suffered anemia in both pregnancies, I was very tired, had headaches and palpitations.
I had my babies close together, falling pregnant 10 months after my first was born which I don’t think helped. I’ve been left feeling depressed, anxious and exhausted and overwhelmed. It has made my postpartum journey more difficult. I would recommend anybody who is feeling exhausted after having a baby goes and visits their GP and requests a their bloods are checked.” The Merralls Home.
So there we go. Low iron and iron deficiency anemia is pretty common in pregnancy. And iron infusions were nothing I needed to worry too much about! Now let’s bring on baby!