Anemia means your red blood cell level is low. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Anemia can happen when you're pregnant because your body is working hard to make more blood to help your baby grow. Anemia during a healthy pregnancy is common.
Sometimes anemia during pregnancy can be caused by other problems, such as not having enough iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12.
What are the symptoms?
When you have anemia, you may feel dizzy, tired, and weak. You may also feel your heart pounding or feel short of breath. It may be hard to focus and think clearly.
Cravings for nonfood items such as dirt, ashes, clay, or chalk can be a sign that you don't have enough iron in your blood (iron deficiency anemia).
How is it diagnosed?
As a routine part of your prenatal visits, your doctor will take some of your blood to test. Tests may include a complete blood count (CBC) to look at your red blood cells.
How is it treated?
Each type of anemia is treated differently. Eating foods rich in iron, such as red meat, poultry, eggs, beans, raisins, whole-grain bread, fortified cereals, and leafy green vegetables can help. You may also need to take iron pills along with your prenatal vitamins or vitamins like folic acid or vitamin B12.
Current as of: April 12, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
NOTICE: This health information was not created by Columbia University Irving Medical Center and may not necessarily reflect specific CUIMC practices. For medical advice relating to your personal condition, please consult your doctor. Medical advice disclaimer.