Why Is Iron Important In Pregnancy?

When a woman is pregnant, she produces a 50% extra amount of blood!

Iron is needed to create healthy blood in the body. Without enough iron, you can get iron deficiency anemia.

The topic is relatable to me, as I sit here and wonder if I should get a new checkup on my own iron levels. I had a deficiency before, but the immense fatigue I’m experiencing makes me wonder if it’s back. **sigh**

Planning my first pregnancy, I’m doing a lot of research, and my intention is to put as much of it together in a simple and readable manner.

Why is anemia bad during pregnancy?

Anemia in pregnancy can cause a low birth weight and premature birth, as well as postpartum depression, a baby with anemia and a need to receive blood transfusion at delivery.

Symptoms of iron deficiency:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Tired even though you get enough sleep
  • Paleness
  • Dizziness (such as when standing up too quickly)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Cravings for odd things, like ice or dirt
  • Poor appetite

Some of the above symptoms coincide with the normal symptoms of pregnancy, so it can be hard to tell them apart. If you think you have iron deficiency, consult with your doctor.

When I had iron deficiency, I felt tired, weak and lightheaded upon standing up, and easily got headaches. I would sometimes get an ache in my chest (rarely) and dizziness (often) when exerting myself.

While I was pale, I don’t know if it was any more than usual — I’m naturally pale (so much that my dad took me to the doctor for it when I was little — there was nothing wrong with me, “Just a Snow White”, said the doctor.)

Another thing that I’ve experienced is a purple hue under my nails — do you know what I mean? I don’t know if it’s related to iron deficiency or not, but it feels like the purple could be the result of a poor circulation (in spite of working out, eating healthy and using my spike mat. Hmm.)

Iron is important because it helps you live and feel alive. Without healthy blood flowing through your body, how can you feel alive? And if you don’t, then the baby definitely doesn’t.

So eat plenty of iron rich foods, even more than you think (because the body doesn’t absorb it all — especially the type that comes from plants). But don’t do guess work regarding this. Consult your doctor about how much extra iron you need from supplements. Too much isn’t good, either.

How much should you take?

Normally women need about 18 mg daily, but during pregnancy it’s 27 mg per day. Consult with your doctor to see if you need to supplement.

My favourite Plant Based foods for iron

  • Lentils (3.3 mg/100g).
  • Beans (about 5-8 mg/100 g, depending on type).
  • Leafy greens (spinach: 2.7 mg/iron, 0.7 mg).
  • Soy products (soybeans contain 5.1 mg/100g).

As you can tell, that’s not a lot of iron, but these are some of the highest in iron among plant based foods. This is why I take a supplement of 13 mg per day.

I often skip my supplement, thinking I get enough in food, but looking at the above numbers it’s clear that I would have to eat A LOT MORE of the above to get enough iron. I won’t skip the supplement from now on.


  • Iron deficiency leads to anemia.
  • Iron deficiency during pregnancy is bad for the baby.
  • Iron is important to function optimally.
  • Women need 18 mg or iron daily, but when pregnant it’s 27 mg.
  • The best plant based foods for iron are: lentils, beans, soybeans and leafy greens.

So, make sure to get your iron! (Pregnant or not).

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