Anemia is the most common blood condition in the United States, affecting about 3.5 million Americans. It occurs when blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. Pregnant women are more susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia, due to increased blood supply demands. “Most of the women whom I treat become anemic during the pregnancy,” OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. “It’s really, really common. And one of the reasons is because the blood volume, when you become pregnant, doubles.
“If you’re anemic for a long time, sometimes you can have a lower-birth-weight baby,” Dr. Lisa continues. “But really it doesn’t have so many problems with the infant as much as the mother afterwards, because a woman is going to lose blood in labor. If you already are behind in the [number] of red blood cells you have, you are at risk, if you lose blood, [of] needing a transfusion afterwards.”
During pregnancy, women should increase their iron intake from 18mg to 30mg per day, and iron supplements are recommended. While added iron can cause constipation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all pregnant women take a daily supplement of iron as a preventative measure. “It’s not easy,” Dr. Lisa says. “But it’s extremely important.”