Heart & Blood Condition

Expert reports about Heart & Blood Condition


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE IRON DEFICIENCY WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING

 

What is iron deficiency during pregnancy?

Iron deficiency is a state in which you are not taking in enough iron to meet the body’s needs, leading to iron deficiency anemia, in which red blood cells (RBCs) are smaller than normal, pale, and there are fewer of them than you should have. Thus, overall, RBC mass (the mass of all the RBCs together) is abnormally low, corresponding to a reduced amount of hemoglobin (Hb, the molecule that fills RBCs to carry oxygen in the blood), because each molecule of Hb requires four atoms of iron. This can happen during pregnancy because the volume of blood gradually increases to approximately 150 percent of the non-pregnant volume. RBCs mass normally increases as well, but not enough to keep up with the blood volume increase. This makes the blood more diluted than it is when you’re not pregnant, making you very prone to iron deficiency anemia. In addition to iron deficiency anemia developing, due to increased needs, you can also lose iron and RBCs due to bleeding, such as from the placenta, from the gastrointestinal tract, and during and after delivery.


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