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Haemoglobin is a protein found in the red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the rest of the body. During pregnancy, a woman’s haemoglobin levels should be optimum to ensure proper supply of oxygen. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is directly proportional to the circulating haemoglobin levels.
If you are pregnant, your heart must be working harder to provide adequate nutrition to the developing foetus. During pregnancy, the volume of blood in your body will go up by 30% – 50%. We are sure you must be eating healthy foods to meet your excess blood requirements and to ensure that your haemoglobin levels remain stable during pregnancy. But they may steep in the later stages of pregnancy and can result in anaemia. Read on to know how you can increase your haemoglobin levels in pregnancy.
Best Ways to Improve Haemoglobin Levels in Pregnancy
If your haemoglobin levels are low during pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe certain medicines and injections to increase it. But if your haemoglobin is not too low, by making a few dietary changes and exercising daily, you can boost your haemoglobin levels. Here’s what you can do to improve your haemoglobin levels during pregnancy.
Eat Healthy Foods
In order to increase your haemoglobin levels, include foods rich in Vitamin B, Vitamin C, iron, folic acid, etc., in your diet. Here is a list of foods you should eat to increase your haemoglobin levels during pregnancy.
1. Leafy Vegetables
Green vegetables, especially the leafy greens that are rich in iron content are a must-include in a pregnancy diet. If your haemoglobin levels are low, you can benefit from eating iron-rich foods. Iron helps in the production of haemoglobin, which helps in the formation of red blood cells. Some iron-rich foods and herbs that you can eat while pregnant include spinach, kale, and broccoli, and coriander, mint and fenugreek. Green leafy vegetables are also rich in other vitamins and nutrients essential for pregnancy. So make them a part of your daily diet.
2. Dry Fruits and Nuts
Dates and figs being high in iron content can help increase your haemoglobin levels. Some other dry fruits and nuts that you can eat daily include walnuts, raisins, and almonds as they can also help increase your haemoglobin levels during pregnancy.
Pulses are packed with iron and protein. You can eat pulses by adding them in salad or soups. You can even add them to bread for better results. Peas, lentils, and beans are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, iron, and protein. Hence they would make a balanced diet for pregnant women.
Asparagus is rich in iron. You can have a hot cup of asparagus soup if you want something light and easy to digest. You can also add sesame seeds in the soup for more iron content.
5. Fresh Fruits
Eating fresh fruits like pomegranate and oranges too can increase the level of haemoglobin during pregnancy. Pomegranates are very rich in iron content. Oranges are rich in Vitamin C which helps to boost the immune system of the body and in turn boost haemoglobin levels. Other fruits like kiwi, peaches, grapefruit, guavas are also an excellent source of iron and can be considered to increase haemoglobin levels in pregnancy. But you must speak to your nutritionist or doctor before eating these fruits during pregnancy.
6. Vegetables Rich in Folic Acid
Folate or folic acid is a type of Vitamin B and a water-soluble vitamin which helps prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy. This vitamin plays an important part in the production of haemoglobin. To meet your folic acid requirements, you can eat corn, bananas, turnips, sprouts, avocado, lettuce, okra, etc., as they are rich in folic acid.
Drink smoothie made of apples, beetroot, and carrots. Drinking this smoothie can increase your haemoglobin levels during pregnancy.
You can also eat some seeds that are rich in iron, like pumpkin seeds, almond seeds and sunflower seeds. Eating these can help improve your haemoglobin levels during pregnancy.
Take Dietary Supplements
Taking dietary supplements can also help improve haemoglobin levels during pregnancy.
A deficiency of folic acid and Vitamin B12 might result in low levels of haemoglobin. If you have a folic acid deficiency or Vitamin B12 deficiency, you can take supplements for the same after consulting your doctor.
If your body lacks iron, you might be advised to take iron supplements.
Consuming foods rich in iron is important but you should also consume foods that help in iron absorption. If you don’t eat foods rich in Vitamin C that help absorb iron, you will have to take Vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C supplements can improve your body’s capacity to absorb iron. Consult your doctor if you need Vitamin C supplements.
Stimulate the Red Blood Cells
For the stimulation of red blood cells, here’s what your doctor might suggest.
If you have chronic diseases, it might result in low haemoglobin levels. You might be suggested iron pills and vitamins increase your haemoglobin levels.
When nothing works, your doctor may give you haemoglobin injections during pregnancy. Synthetic erythropoietin injection can help in the production of red blood cells.
One of the simplest ways to increase your haemoglobin levels naturally during pregnancy is by exercising. When you exercise, your body will produce more haemoglobin to meet the increasing demand for oxygen. You can start with moderate-intensity workouts after consulting with your doctor. Avoid high-intensity workouts during pregnancy as these workouts can be injurious. You can also try pranayama like shitali pranayama, nadi shodhan pranayama, or kapal bhati to improve your haemoglobin count.
Consider Steroid Treatments
Steroid treatment should be your last resort. Steroid treatment is prescribed to a woman when her immune system forces to have a low level of haemoglobin. In this case, healthy RBCs are destroyed by the immunity cells. To combat this, a woman will be prescribed immune system suppressant. This medical condition is known as hemolytic anaemia. But steroid treatments are considered in very rare cases such as the case of compromised immune system and under a doctor’s supervision. You must check with your doctor before opting for this treatment.
These are some ways to improve haemoglobin levels during pregnancy. However, there is one thing that you should avoid to prevent your haemoglobin levels from dropping.
Avoid Iron Blockers
If your haemoglobin count is low, avoid foods, beverages, and drinks that block your body’s capacity to absorb iron. Quit drinking tea, coffee, soft drinks, beer, and wine.
The haemoglobin count is measured in gram per decilitre (g/dl). In the first trimester of pregnancy, a woman’s haemoglobin levels should be between 11.6 g/dL and 13.9 g/dL. In the second trimester, haemoglobin levels are somewhere between 9.7 g/dL and 14.8 g/dL. And in the last trimester of the pregnancy, the haemoglobin count between 9.5 g/dL and 15 g/dL is considered ideal.
Low levels of haemoglobin can cause weakness and may lead to anaemia. Hence, maintaining proper levels of haemoglobin during pregnancy is essential for the health of the mother and the baby. Try these ways to improve your haemoglobin levels after consulting with your doctor.
Also Read: Thalasemmia during Pregnancy