As a pregnant woman’s body makes room for a growing uterus and the baby inside, there is a need for many new blood vessels. All of these vessels increase the amount of volume of the blood, and in order to account for the increased volume the body needs to make more red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs are the way that the body transfers oxygen to the tissues of the body, and to the fetus as well. However creating new RBCs takes time, up to a few months. Until that time comes, the plasma, meaning the part of the blood that isn’t the RBCs is increased, and this decreases the concentration of the RBCs.
Anemia is defined as a low hemoglobin count. Hemoglobin is the way that we measure the RBCs, as it is the protein inside that carries the oxygen. As the concentration of the RBCs decreases, so does the concentration of the hemoglobin, creating a state of anemia. Anemia can be felt in a number of ways, though if it’s minor it might not be felt at all. Anemia can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and feelings of faintness when standing. This could lead to falls, and trauma which is especially dangerous in pregnant women.
Although this process is physiological and completely normal, there are some things that you can do in order to manage this situation.
1. One of the best ways to help the drop in hemoglobin is to help your body maintain a normal blood pressure, and the best way to do this is to stay hydrated.
2. Iron supplements are a great way of making sure that you body has adequate building blocks in order to respond to the need to make more blood cells. You may not need iron supplements if you have a diet rich with red meat, or dark green vegetables. A prenatal multivitamin can provide the iron you need as well, and contains a number of other vitamins as well.
3. Folic acid is also a building block of new cells, and is highly recommended to take even 3 months before you are planning on getting pregnant. It is shown to prevent problems with the developing nervous system of the new baby, but folic acid deficiency can lead to anemia as well. Keeping the folic acid levels high during pregnancy is key for both of these reasons, so make sure to take the appropriate amount every day.
Another few tips that are helpful to maintain strength during pregnancy is to make sure you are sleeping properly. Although this can be very tough with the discomfort late into pregnancy, adequate rest is important to stay sharp and prevent accidents. You body also rebuilds itself at night, and this helps the bone marrow create the appropriate amount of RBCs as well, so make sure you’re getting a good night sleep every night.
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