Iron supplementation during pregnancy is vital to prevent iron deficiency anaemia and ensure the health of both mother and baby. In Sri Lanka, all pregnant women receive iron supplementation to support maternal and child health.
Understanding Iron Deficiency Anaemia in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, women require more iron to support the growth and development of their baby and placenta, as well as to maintain their own increased blood volume. When iron levels are insufficient, iron deficiency anaemia can occur, leading to risks such as preterm birth, low birth weight, and infants born small for gestational age. In addition, Iron deficiency increases the risk of complications during labour and delivery like excessive bleeding.
Benefits of Iron Supplementation in Pregnancy
Iron supplementation offers several benefits during pregnancy. It significantly reduces the risk of maternal anaemia and iron deficiency, ensuring healthier outcomes for both mother and baby. Moreover, children born to mothers who received iron supplementation during pregnancy exhibit higher cognitive scores at the age of seven, highlighting the long-term benefits of maternal iron supplementation. Iron also plays a crucial role in fetal brain development, being involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and the myelination of neurons.
Recommended Iron Intake and Sources
The World Health Organization recommends daily iron and folic acid supplementation for pregnant women, typically between 30-60 mg of elemental iron per day. To meet these requirements, pregnant women should consume a diet rich in iron, including foods such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals. It is crucial to highlight that there are two types of iron sources: heme (found in animal products) and non-heme (found in plant-based sources). Vitamin C can enhance the absorption of non-heme iron, so consuming vitamin C-rich foods or supplements alongside iron sources can be beneficial.
Factors Affecting Iron Absorption
Certain substances can inhibit iron absorption. Phytates, calcium, and polyphenols (found in tea, coffee, and some vegetables) can negatively impact iron absorption. To maximise iron uptake, consider taking iron supplements with a source of vitamin C, such as a glass of orange juice or a vitamin C supplement. Additionally, avoid consuming calcium-rich foods or beverages, like milk or cheese, within an hour of taking an iron supplement.
Reducing Postpartum Depression
Risk Iron supplementation during pregnancy may also help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Low iron levels have been linked to fatigue and depression, which can be especially concerning after childbirth. By maintaining adequate iron levels during pregnancy, new mothers can potentially reduce the risk of postpartum depression and its associated challenges.
At Sugabi Clinic, we provide specialised women’s health care, including individualised support for pregnant women. Our expert team will help you navigate iron supplementation during pregnancy to ensure the best outcomes for you and your baby.
In addition to our personalised care, we offer educational resources through our patient education website (www.sugabi.lk), empowering you to make informed decisions about your health.
Iron supplementation during pregnancy is crucial for the health of both mother and baby. By following the guidelines on dosage, timing, and absorption factors, you can ensure that you receive the right amount of iron to support a healthy pregnancy. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider to tailor your iron supplementation plan, and make use of the educational resources provided by Sugabi Clinic to stay informed and confident throughout your pregnancy journey.
- World Health Organization. The global prevalence of anaemia in 2011. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/177094/9789241564967_eng.pdf
- National Health Service (NHS). Iron: Vitamins and minerals [Internet]. London: National Health Service; [updated 2021 Jan 30; cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/iron/
- Pavord S, Myers B, Robinson S, Allard S, Strong J, Oppenheimer C; British Committee for Standards in Haematology. UK guidelines on the management of iron deficiency in pregnancy. Br J Haematol. 2012 Mar;156(5):588-600.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Anemia in Pregnancy [Internet]. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2018 Jul. Available from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/anemia-in-pregnancy
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation. Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I: Weight Gain, Part II: Nutrient Supplements. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1990.
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Iron: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; [updated 2021 Feb 17; cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets