Iron and pregnancy
Iron makes up a major part of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying pigment and main protein in the red blood cells; it carries oxygen throughout the body. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in the mother's body increases by almost 50 percent - she needs more iron to make more hemoglobin for all that extra blood. Most women start their pregnancy without adequate stores of iron to meet the increasing demands of their bodies, particularly after the 3rd or 4th month. If iron stores are inadequate, the mother may become anemic, and there is a higher risk of:
Tiredness, irritability, depression (in the mother) during the pregnancy.
If the mother is anemic later in the pregnancy, there is a higher risk of losing a lot of blood when she gives birth. The following foods are rich sources of iron:
Dried fruits, such as apricots.
Some whole grain cereals, if they are fortified with iron.
Liver is rich in iron, but doctors and most dietitians advise pregnant women to avoid liver. Liver is very high in vitamin A, which may harm the baby during pregnancy.
Oysters (pregnant women should eat them cooked).