During the last half of pregnancy, your body makes more red blood cells in order to supply enough for you and your baby. Every red blood cell uses iron as its core. Iron cannot be made by your body and must be absorbed from the foods you eat.
Although iron is found in many foods, it is hard to absorb, making it difficult for your body to get enough to meet its needs during pregnancy. When you don't have enough iron in your diet, you make fewer red blood cells, which is called anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is very common and is easy to correct.
Your body also needs a nutrient called folate to make healthy blood cells. Folate is easily absorbed and found in most green vegetables.
Often, women with anemia don't have specific symptoms. If anemia is severe, you may feel tired and weak.
Because it is difficult to get enough iron from your diet, you may need to take an iron supplement. There usually is enough iron in your prenatal vitamin to prevent anemia, but your provider may prescribe an extra iron pill if you are anemic.
If the iron tablet upsets your stomach, take it with a small amount of food. Do not take your iron tablet with dairy products or calcium supplements.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron during pregnancy is 30 milligrams. Here are some foods rich in iron.
Foods that provide .5 to 1.5 milligrams of iron:
Foods that provide 1.6 to 3 milligrams of iron:
Foods that provide 3 to 12 milligrams of iron:
Additional sources of iron:
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.
Fetal Treatment Center
400 Parnassus Ave., A-123
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 476-0445
Fax: (415) 502-0660
Prenatal Diagnostic Center
350 Parnassus Ave., Suite 810
San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone: (415) 476-4080
Fax: (415) 353-4077
For more information, contact UCSF's Great Expectations Pregnancy Program at (415) 353-2667.