Handling Anaemia During Pregnancy by Nurse Adesua Oni: The Causes, Symptoms, and Foods to Eat

Anaemia in pregnancy is a clinical condition whereby there is a decrease in haemoglobin levels that impairs the transportation of oxygen. It is also a situation where matured red blood cells are deficient and it reflects the presence of fewer than normal erythrocytes.

The normal haemoglobin level in males is between 14.0g and 17.5g and females 12.3g and 15.3g. Anaemia is a sign of an underlying disorder, not a disease.

Classifications of Anaemia

Anaemia is classified according to deficiency in erythrocyte production.

1. Aplastic Anaemia

This is the inability of the bone marrow to produce blood as a result of bone marrow damage either due to medication, Iron, Vitamin B12, or Erythropoietin which are necessary for the formation of erythrocytes.

2. Iron Deficiency Anaemia

This occurs when the body does not have enough iron to produce haemoglobin as a result of poor nutrition, pregnancy etc. It is the most common type of Anaemia.

3. Vitamin Deficiency Anaemia

This is when there is a deficiency of vitamin B12 and folic acid needed in the production of healthy red blood cells which affect the nervous system.

4. Anaemia resulting from Chronic Disease

This results from the inhibition of chronic disease which depletes the production of healthy red blood cells e.g Kidney Failure.

Causes of Anaemia:

  • Hereditary
  • Chronic disease
  • Premature or excessive destruction of red blood cells
  • Inadequate production of red blood cells
  • Inadequate nutrition

Signs and symptoms of Anaemia:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Coldness of hands and feet
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Weakness

Foods to Eat to Prevent Anaemia

To prevent anaemia during pregnancy, be sure to eat well-balanced meals that are high in iron. Aim for at least three servings a day of iron-rich foods, such as:

  • Red lean meat, poultry, and fish.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli, and kale)
  • Iron-enriched cereals and grains.
  • Beans, lentils, and tofu
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Eggs

Foods that are high in vitamin C can help your body absorb more iron. These include:

  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers

Try eating these foods at the same time that you eat iron-rich foods. For example, you could drink a glass of orange juice and eat an iron-fortified cereal for breakfast.

Also, choose foods that are high in folate to help prevent folate deficiency. These include:

  • Leafy, green vegetables
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Beans
  • Bread and cereals fortified with folic acid.

Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking prenatal vitamins that contain a sufficient amount of iron and folic acid.

Vegetarians and vegans should talk with their doctor about whether they should take a vitamin B12 supplement when they’re pregnant and breastfeeding.

Management of Anaemia in Pregnancy:

  • Eat foods that are rich in vitamins and folates to increase the production of red blood cells.
  • Take nutritional supplements to maintain sufficient levels of blood.
  • Have a balanced lifestyle that ensures rest to conserve energy.
  • Avoid the intake of alcohol.

Complications of Anaemia in Pregnancy:

  • Heart failure
  • Prickle-like sensation on the lower limb
  • Confusion
  • Hemolysis: rapid breakdown of red blood cells
  • Death

Anaemia in pregnancy is fairly common in developing countries. Early detection and treatment are very key.

By Nr. Adesua Oni #Thesteppedupnurse

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