Iron is necessary to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to red blood cells and helps maintain your blood supply. Iron supplements are not usually needed during the first three months of pregnancy as long as you follow a healthy diet. However, if you do not get a lot of iron in your diet or are later in your pregnancy, you may need to talk to your doctor about a safe way to make sure you get the iron you need without taking too much.
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According to Babycenter, your blood supply increases by almost 50 percent during pregnancy. If you do not have enough iron, you may not be able to make all the hemoglobin you need. This can result in iron deficiency anemia, which can increase your baby’s risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight and stillbirth. Anemia is confirmed with a blood test and often treated with iron supplements. You may be more likely to need iron supplements if you have a poor iron diet or vomit frequently during pregnancy.
Safe Amount and Sources
The Office of Dietary Supplements states that you need 27 milligrams of iron a day during pregnancy. The highest amount that you can safely take is 45 milligrams a day from all iron sources. In addition to supplements and prenatal vitamins, sources of iron include red meat, beans, liver, raisins, dates, broccoli, beets, leafy greens and fortified products like cereal and bread.
Taking too much iron or consuming iron supplements on an empty stomach can lead to nausea, constipation, heartburn and abdominal pain. Iron accumulates in your body’s tissues and organs, so large amounts can be toxic and harm you and your unborn baby. Be sure to consider all of your iron sources from both food and supplements to make sure you are not taking too much.
If you overdose on iron supplements, you may experience seizures, fatigue, dizziness, rapid heart rate, pale skin, weakness and rapid breathing. Call your doctor or seek emergency care immediately if you experience any of these symptoms during pregnancy.