Week 19 of Pregnancy: Low Iron Levels During Pregnancy

My midwife called last night around 8:00 pm during week 19 of pregnancy to discuss the possibility of my having iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Last Friday I had my blood drawn to obtain a routine baseline. When my midwife got the results back, she noticed that my iron levels were a little on the low side. Not low enough to panic just yet but low enough to take action now. Furthermore, my midwife also said that my low iron levels could be indicative of a high blood dilution rather than iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy; however, I would rather not take the chance. Therefore, I have two options. First, I can take a prenatal iron supplement in addition to my regular prenatal vitamin. Alternatively, I can work on adding more iron-rich foods to my diet to help improve my potential iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy.

According to the March of Dimes webpage on iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy, low iron levels are common in pregnant women because an expectant mother needs to have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around her body and to her baby. The increased need for blood often results in anemia. Although common, however, iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy should not be taken lightly. Low iron levels have been linked to an increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Solutions to common low iron levels include iron-rich foods and a prenatal iron supplement.

I am absolutely not opposed to taking a prenatal iron supplement in addition to my regular prenatal vitamin. However, the plan that my midwife and I have laid out to try to improve my potential iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy is for me to eat more iron-rich foods. Specifically, I am going to try adding more buffalo to my diet. Bison is not only low in fat and high in protein but extremely high in iron. In fact, a bison burger has more iron but fewer calories and less fat than regular beef hamburger.

Other foods that I can eat to improve my potential iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy without immediately turning to a prenatal iron supplement include dark meat poultry; dried apricots, prunes, figs, raisins, dates; oatmeal and other whole grains; spinach, broccoli, kale, and other dark green leafy vegetables; baked potatoes with the skin; and beans and peas. Last night for a snack, I had some browned ground sirloin with a little bit of chili powder for flavor. I also told my husband that we will just have to go to my favorite steakhouse more often so that I can eat more filet mignon and baked potatoes. After all, I need to improve my iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Why take a prenatal iron supplement when I can just have a really good steak?

Originally written on August 12, 2011

Image Credits

Grilling Steaks: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grilling_Steaks.jpg

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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