Keep Anaemia in Check While Pregnant

Ordinarily, a pregnant woman undergoes incredible changes, both physically and emotionally. Some enjoy it, while others barely survive through it. With so many changes happening, it’s expected that you will worry about the risk of being anaemic. 

 Anaemia is caused by insufficient blood in your body. This can be caused by a number of things, among them being little or no iron consumption. it’s important to realize that as your baby develops, your body works just as much to ensure nutrients and oxygen are sufficiently circulated.

Common Pregnancy-Related Anaemia

There are two most common types of anaemia related to pregnancy:-

  • Iron deficiency anaemia, lack of enough iron and vitamins to produce healthy red blood cells for oxygen circulation to you and baby. 
  • Vitamin B12 or Folate deficiency anaemia, lack of vitamin B12 or folate subsequently producing abnormal red blood cells, affecting the body’s ability to function well. 

The prevalence of anaemia in Kenyan expectant mothers stood at 38.2% in 2016. This is according to Trading economics statistics. What may perhaps not surprise you is that iron is recorded as the major cause of anaemia in Kenya.

How Do I Know I’m at A Risk of Being Anemic?

It is difficult to single out anaemia in the first trimester, as pregnancy symptoms are relatively similar to anaemia. However, recognize that you are at a higher risk of being anemic if you;- 

  • recently had a baby and are pregnant again!
  • are pregnant with more than one foetus 
  • have severe morning sickness with frequent vomiting 
  • are a vegan, 
  • experience a heavy pre-pregnancy menstrual flow 
  • are pregnant at 20 years or below

Here are some of the symptoms you may want to look out for:-

  • Rapid heart-beat, 
  • Irritable pale skin, 
  • Feeling unusually fatigued and sluggish,
  • Frequently running ‘out of breath’ 
  • forgetting easily 

Will Iron Deficiency Affect Baby’s Development?

No. Baby takes its share of iron and vitamins first, it’s only extreme and unresolved cases that put the baby at the risk of developing anaemia later on infancy as its iron store will not be as strong. 

Can Pregnancy-Related Anaemia Be Treated?

Yes! Do not be terrified, all types of anaemia are treatable and can be minimized to nil during and after delivery. Once diagnosed or tested, ensure to start taking the prescribed iron or folic acid supplements in addition to any other vitamins.

Other than supplements, you might also want to get nutrients from natural iron foods such as;

  • Heme iron from haemoglobin, found in animal sources like beef and chicken liver, red meats, fish and oysters. 
  • Non-heme iron that is found in plant sources such as  Sukuma wiki, whole grain cereals, dried beans and iron-fortified cereals. 

Add-on: The heme irons are absorbed better than non-heme irons, so ensure to balance your diet well.

In severe cases, doctors might recommend a blood transfusion or intravenous iron supplementation.

What to Control

  • Curb your tea intake, drinking tea can reduce the absorption power of iron in the body. 
  • Avoid beer, soft drinks, and ice-creams as they have components that block iron absorption.

Note that not all symptoms indicate anaemia or any other medical disorder, talk to your doctor and let them walk through the best way to manage it.


#Please note that development differs from one child to another.

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: tommys, tradingeconomics, tradingeconomics, webmd, americanpregnancy, glowm

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