More Articles on A Healthy Pregnancy

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Congratulations on Your Pregnancy! (for those who are newly pregnant)
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A Pregnancy Menu For You and Your Baby
Treating Nausea and Vomiting
What About Seafood?
Don't Eat That!
Pregnancy and Cholesterol
Wash Those Veggies!
Breastmilk, the Healthiest Diet for Babies
What DOES that Broccoli Do for My Baby?
Vitamin D Supplements in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
New Research Affirms Individualized Vitamin D Supplementation for Pregnant Women
Breastfeeding: Developing a Future Gourmet
What to Do About The Flu
Gestational Diabetes
Decreasing the Risk of Gestation Diabetes
Keeping and Storing Breastmilk
Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines – Do We Need New Ones?
Breastfeeding: A Woman's Health Issue
Eating During Labor
Probiotics and a Decreased Risk of Gestational Diabetes
Pregnancy - a Time to be Active!
Clearing the Air : Quit Smoking for You and Your Child
What is a Healthy Pregnancy Diet for Obese Women?
Does Iron Intake Matter?
One Fish, Two Fish... Full Term Birth?
Folic acid in pregnancy and language development
A Mediterranean Diet, Pre-Pregnancy
There is No Substitute for a Healthy Diet
Honest Healthy Diets for Babies
Exercise for New Moms
A Healthy Pre-Pregnancy Diet and Gestational Diabetes
Vitamin D and Gestational Diabetes
Great News About Breastfeeding
Peanuts and Pregnancy
Fried Foods and Gestational Diabetes
Iodine supplements - should you take them?
Prevent Gestational Diabetes with a Mediterranean-style diet
FDA Updates Recommendations for Fish Consumption in Pregnancy

Faith Bontrager, RN, BSN

Faith Bontrager, RN, BSNFaith's passion in nursing is to help people find the options they need to discover their personal path to optimum health. Ask her friends and they will tell you that their appreciation of nutritious food has grown through Faith. About Faith Bontrager, RN, BSN


A Healthy Pregnancy

Does Iron Intake Matter?

Spinach, a high-iron food

The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of iron for pregnant women is 27 mg daily, compared with 18 mg for non-pregnant women. During pregnancy a women not only increases her own blood supply, she also gives her baby the iron needed to support his growth before birth and gives him supplemental stores which will help his growth in early infancy.

Iron deficiency can cause premature delivery as well as leading to low birth weight infants. Yet a recent study in Britain (where prenatal vitamins are not routinely recommended) found that 80% of women had inadequate iron intake (Hum Reprod 2011;26(4):911-9).

There are two types of iron in food. The most efficiently absorbed iron (heme iron) comes from animal products. Vegetarian sources (non-heme iron) are abundant in a healthy diet and also important sources of iron. Fortified products (such as breakfast cereals) use non-heme iron. It is possible to get adequate iron with a vegetarian diet.

Your obstetrician will likely recommend a prenatal vitamin with iron. If a blood test shows you have a low hemoglobin level, she will also recommend supplemental iron. These can be an important part of a healthy pregnancy. However, realize that a vitamin pill can only ever be a supplement. It can only assist a good quality diet, it will never take its place.

A healthy diet that includes iron rich foods is essential during pregnancy. Here's a handout with a list of iron-rich foods.

If your doctor advises an iron supplement, here are some pointers.

Sometimes supplemental iron can cause constipation or nausea. If you are already suffering from pregnancy nausea or discomfort, you won't want added discomfort. Try reducing your iron dose and then increasing it gradually.

If that doesn't solve the problem, try a different iron source. Many supplements are ferrous sulfate. This is a good source, but if it causes problems for you, try a supplement that uses ferrous fumarate. If that doesn't work, try ferrous gluconate.

The proteins in meat will help you absorb iron, as will foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus, peppers, or tomatoes.

Don't take iron supplements with tea: tea has tannins which interfere with the absorption of iron. Substances in beans and whole grains can interfere as well. If your obstetrician also recommends a calcium supplement, don't take your calcium and iron together, as appears that calcium may interfere with iron absorption.

Keep iron supplements out of the reach of children. Iron can be toxic in relatively small doses.

Nourish yourself - and your child.