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Your body is the place where your little one will develop and grow, and you need to be especially careful about what you put into it because it could impact the growth of your child. It is not just about getting the right kind of nutrients that you need to be careful about, but also the amount that you and your baby need. One vital nutrient essential for the developing baby is iron. Read on to know more about taking iron supplements during pregnancy.
Should You take Iron Tablets While Pregnant?
The body requires iron to make haemoglobin, a protein in your Red Blood Cells (RBC) that aids in bringing oxygen to the organs and tissues for both you and your child. As you are supporting the growth of your baby, your body will automatically produce more blood; however, to do this, your body will require additional iron. If your diet doesn’t provide you with enough iron to produce the correct amount of blood for two, you are most likely going to be asked by your healthcare provider to take some additional iron supplements to get that extra blood flowing.
How Much Iron is Required during Pregnancy?
The following table is a general requirement for iron supplements that women are advised to take:
|Dosage||30 mg to 60 mg|
|Duration||For the entire duration of the pregnancy|
When does Doctor Recommend Iron Tablets in Pregnancy?
The prenatal vitamins that women are advised to take during pregnancy all contain the needed amount of iron in them. Apart from this, it is best to gain the required amount of iron through a balanced diet that is rich in the element. There are times, however, when your doctor may inform you that you need to take an additional amount. The reasons for this will be different for each woman, but it is most commonly found that women who live in places where anaemia is prevalent will undoubtedly require additional iron supplements.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, it may increase your chances of needing to take iron supplements as your diet may not be able to provide you with the desired dosage on a daily basis. Always inform your doctor if this is the case so that your doctor can perform regular checks on your iron and haemoglobin levels during your routine check-up and will be able to tell you if you need iron tablets in pregnancy and when to start.
Which is the Best Time to Take Iron Tablets during Pregnancy?
If in your case, the supplements are needed, your doctor will inform you on how to take an iron tablet during pregnancy. Most doctors recommend that you do not take any iron supplements during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy as it is a very delicate time for your baby, and if you take too much, it could impact the growth of your child.
When taking the supplements, you will be advised to take it at least one or two hours before your meal or the same amount of time after as they are better absorbed by the body if taken on an empty stomach. Avoid taking it with tea, coffee or even milk as it can reduce the effects of the tablets. Instead, they should be taken with plain water.
Side Effects of Consuming Iron Tablets
While iron is a much-needed element for pregnant women, too much of it can cause some unpleasant side effects. These are explained below:
1. Dark Urine and Stool
At least 5% of women who take iron supplements find that their urine becomes darker. About 10% notice a darkening of their stools, either looking dark green or black. Both of these are normal, and everything should go back to normal when you stop taking the supplements.
2. Discomfort in Gastrointestinal Tract
At least 10% of people who take iron supplements suffer from constipation. If you are experiencing this, add more fibre and water to your diet.
4. Nausea and Vomiting
Taking iron supplements often causes vomiting and nausea as it generally makes morning sickness worse. Take your supplements with meals to ease the discomfort and if you get a fever as well, contact your doctor.
There is a misconception that iron tablets during pregnancy make baby dark. This is only an old wives tale as the only things that can impact your baby’s complexion in the womb are genes.
Things to Remember
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when taking iron supplements:
- Drink plenty of water
- If you experience the unpleasant side effects, then taking it with meals may be better than on an empty stomach
- If the side effects are still present, take the dosage in two halves during the day
- Ask your doctor if it is all right for you to take a stool softener if you really need it
- Do not take the supplements unless prescribed by your doctor as too much iron can cause high blood pressure and a baby too small for its gestational age.
Iron Rich Foods for Pregnant Women
A diet rich in iron is better for pregnant women than relying on supplements. The following are foods rich in the element:
During pregnancy, it is best to always consult with your doctor about any supplements or medications that you may want to take, even if they are herbal or generally said to be good for you. This is because each woman will have different requirements based on their bodies.
Also Read: Supplements during Pregnancy