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Low blood count—anemia

Your hemoglobin level will be checked at the beginning of the pregnancy and then again in the second and third trimester. A sample of blood will be taken to check for this. A low hemoglobin level is called anemia.

Anemia is common, particularly in the middle of pregnancy and is primarily caused by the increase in blood volume. Your blood is more diluted than normal (therefore causing a dip in hemoglobin levels). Your body needs more iron when you are pregnant. Anemia can also be caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, a folic acid deficiency or an infection.

Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, breathlessness, heart palpitations, headaches and dizziness. The most common treatment is to take OTC iron supplements and eat more iron-rich food.

Very rarely, it is necessary to administer iron intravenously.

Examples of food rich in iron are meat, eggs, shellfish, sausage and liver. If you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, there is a lot of iron in whole-grain products, legumes, seeds, nuts and dried fruit. You may need to take iron supplements even if you eat an iron-rich diet to improve your levels. Your midwife or doctor is there to help.

Source: - Lärobok för barnmorskor. Faxelid, E. Course literature 2001. - Myles Textbook for Midwives. Fraser, D. och Cooper, M. Churchill Livingstone 2003.