Studies reveal that 2 out of 10 women have anemia or suffer from low levels of hemoglobin. During pregnancy, anemia and low levels of hemoglobin can cause problems for both the mother and the baby. It can lead to prenatal mortality, low birth rate, and premature birth if not taken care of in time.
Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen and collecting carbon dioxide from our bodies. It is a complex protein found in the red blood cells of our blood. For an adult woman, the normal range of hemoglobin is 12 g/dl to 16 g/ dl.
What is the importance of the normal level of hemoglobin in pregnant women?
When pregnant, a woman needs more oxygen than normal as the baby needs oxygen as well. Therefore, immediately after conceiving, the hemoglobin levels of the mother must be tested because the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood depends directly on the level of hemoglobin.
What is the normal range of hemoglobin for pregnancy?
Gram per deciliter (g/dl) is the unit used for measuring the level of hemoglobin. The normal range of hemoglobin in an adult woman is:
- 12 to 15.8 g/dl or 120 to 158 g/L when not pregnant.
- 11.6 to 13.9 g/dl or 116 to 139 g/L in the first three months or the first trimester.
- 9.7 to 14.8 g/dl or 97 to 148 g/L in the second trimester of pregnancy.
- 9.5 to 15 g/dl or 95 to 150 g/L in the last three months, or the third trimester.
Why do levels of hemoglobin reduce during pregnancy?
It is common to see a reduced level of hemoglobin during pregnancy and is considered quite normal. The level of hemoglobin usually goes below 10.5b/dl in pregnancy. The reason is simple: in pregnancy, the blood volume of a woman increases by half to provide essential nutrition to the developing baby. By the 8th week, the levels of blood plasma become higher than the level of red blood cells. There is a decrease in the concentration of red blood cells which causes the levels of hemoglobin to drop. This should be taken care of immediately as it can affect the health of the mother and the child.
What are some effects of low levels of hemoglobin during pregnancy?
Hemoglobin levels below 10.5g/dl can have a serious effect on your health during pregnancy. This makes it important to take all the necessary iron supplements and food items as instructed by the doctor. Some side effects of low hemoglobin during pregnancy are:
- Exhaustion and lethargy
- Frequent feeling of dizziness
- The pale coloration of skin and lips
- Constant shortness of breath even while resting
- An increased rate of heartbeat
- Cold hands and feet at all times
How to increase Hemoglobin levels in pregnancy?
It is likely that your hemoglobin levels take a dip during a pregnancy. You can take some iron supplements on the recommendation of your doctor. You may be suggested a change in the diet as well. A diet with adequate amounts of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin C is suitable for increasing hemoglobin during pregnancy. The following is a list of food items that can replenish the necessary vitamins and nutrients.
- Leafy green vegetables like spinach and fenugreek, dry fruits and nuts, barley, maize, sesame seeds, and millets are some food items that are a good source of iron and must be included in your diet.
- Fruits like kiwi, peaches, guava. Apples and figs are also rich in diet and should be consumed on a daily basis.
- Include food rich in vitamin C in your diet. Oranges, kiwi, tomatoes, leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, and lemons are rich in vitamin C.
- Vitamin B complex and folic acid play a pivotal role in creation of red blood cells which boosts the level of hemoglobin in our body. Food items like avocado, lettuce, okra, sprouts, and turnips should be made a part of the daily diet.
Apart from intake of food rich in essential nutrients, there are some things you should avoid that are known to limit the absorption of iron. Some things you should avoid strictly during pregnancy are listed below.
- Tea and coffee
- Pasta and wheat products containing a high amount of gluten
- Food rich in oxalic acid, like parsley
- Milk and milk-based products
How to treat the low level of hemoglobin in pregnancy
There is no sure-shot way to increase hb levels during pregnancy at home. This problem can be solved only by an expert in the way they seem fit. In treatment to cure low hemoglobin, you will be monitored by a specialist and only then your future course of treatment will be decided. In order to have a healthy pregnancy, keep a watch on what you eat, and make sure you talk to your doctor immediately when you feel the slightest doubt about your health.