A sufficient supply of dietary iron is very important for both mother and baby throughout pregnancy, as iron is essential in the development of red blood cells and haemoglobin, and aids oxygen transport through the body. During pregnancy extra iron is required, as your blood volume can increase 25-30%, iron is necessary when forming the baby’s blood and the placenta.

Foods to improve your iron levels during pregnancy are:

  • Red meat, chicken and fish
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Wholegrains

It is wise to avoid drinking coffee or tea, as caffeine reduces your body’s absorption of iron. It is a good idea to increase your intake of vitamin C, as it aids your body’s absorption of iron. Foods to increase your vitamin C intake are:

  • Oranges
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Capsicum
  • Tomatoes
  • Kiwifruit

It is quite normal for women to have low iron levels throughout their pregnancy so this will be tested at your appointment with your obstetrician and monitored closely throughout your pregnancy. If at any point your iron levels drop below a healthy range, you may be required to take supplements. These are available over the counter without a prescription.

Supplements suitable to boost iron levels during pregnancy are:

  • FGF
  • Fefol
  • Ferrogradument
  • Fabiron
  • Spatone

If you are taking supplements, be aware that it is normal for your stools to become dark brown or black in colour. The supplements may also cause nausea or constipation, and if this occurs increase your intake of fluids and try taking the supplements with food. You may also consider a fibre supplement for constipation.

For more information about iron levels during pregnancy, contact Western Specialist Centre in Melbourne.