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Anemia is a lack of red blood cells, which can lead to a lack of oxygen-carrying ability, causing unusual tiredness.

The deficiency occurs either through the reduced production or an increased loss of red blood cells. These cells are manufactured in the bone marrow and have a life expectancy of approximately four months. To produce red blood cells, the body needs (among other things) iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. If there is a lack of one or more of these ingredients, anemia will develop

Several types of anemia can develop during pregnancy. These include: Iron-deficiency anemia Folate-deficiency anemia Vitamin B12 deficiency

Iron-deficiency anemia. This type of anemia occurs when the body doesn't have enough iron to produce adequate amounts of hemoglobin. That's a protein in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. In iron-deficiency anemia, the blood cannot carry enough oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia in pregnancy.

Folate-deficiency anemia. Folate, also called folic acid. The body needs folate to produce new cells, including healthy red blood cells. During pregnancy, women need extra folate. But sometimes they don't get enough from their diet. When that happens, the body can't make enough normal red blood cells to transport oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Folate deficiency can directly contribute to certain types of birth defects.

Vitamin B12 deficiency. The body needs vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells. When a pregnant woman doesn't get enough vitamin B12 from her diet, her body can't produce enough healthy red blood cells. Women who don't eat meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs have a greater risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, which may contribute to birth defects. Blood loss during and after delivery can also cause anemia

All pregnant women are at risk for becoming anemic. That's because they need more iron and folic acid than usual. But the risk is higher in these situations: Pregnant with more than one child Two pregnancies close together Vomiting a lot because of morning sickness Teenager who is pregnant Don't eat enough foods that are rich in iron Heavy periods before you became pregnant

The most common symptoms of anemia during pregnancy are: Pale skin, lips, and nails Feeling tired or weak Dizziness Shortness of breath Rapid heartbeat Trouble concentrating

Women often become anemic during pregnancy because the demand for iron and other vitamins is increased. The mother must increase her production of red blood cells and, in addition, the fetus and placenta need their own supply of iron, which can only be obtained from the mother. In order to have enough red blood cells for the fetus, the body starts to produce more red blood cells and plasma.

It has been calculated that the blood volume increases approximately 50 per cent during the pregnancy, although the plasma amount is disproportionately greater. This causes a dilution of the blood, making the haemoglobin concentration fall. This is a normal process, with the haemoglobin concentration at its lowest between weeks 25 and 30. The pregnant woman may need additional iron supplementation, and a blood test called serum ferritin is the best way of monitoring this.

a diet low in iron. Vegetarians, and dieters in particular, should make sure their diet provides them with enough iron lack of folic acid in the diet, a lack of vitamin B12 loss of blood due to bleeding from haemorrhoids (piles) or stomach ulcers anemia is more common in women who have pregnancies close together and also in women carrying twins or triplets.

Before you conceive, and during pregnancy, you need 14.8 milligrams (mg) of iron per day. Iron is important because we need it to make haemoglobin, which helps our red blood cells to store and carry oxygen around our bodies. During pregnancy you need to be sure you're getting your correct daily intake of iron to help keep yourself and your baby healthy. Without enough iron in your blood the organs and tissues in your body won't get as much oxygen as they usually do. This is called iron-deficiency anaemia.

If you have severe anemia during pregnancy you have an increased risk of: Going into labour early. Having a baby who is small for dates or has a low birth weight. Having a baby who is born with low iron levels. Developing an infection in pregnancy.

Most women who have anaemia in pregnancy find that their iron levels improve considerably after taking iron tablets.

If you have severe anaemia which can't be treated with iron tablets you may need an injection containing iron. This would mean your doctor giving you an injection into a muscle under your skin, or via a drip in your arm. But it's unlikely that you will need this type of dose.
In even rarer cases, severe anemia during pregnancy may be treated with a blood transfusion.