What are the symptoms of anemia in pregnancy?

Symptoms of anemia in pregnancy can range from none to severe. As the condition progresses, those affected by the condition may begin to notice fatigue, weakness, and headaches. Other symptoms of anemia in pregnancy include cold hands and feet, pale skin, chest pain, and irritability.

Anemia is diagnosed when a woman has a low level of red blood cells. During pregnancy, this is especially concerning because red blood cells help carry oxygen to both the mother and the developing fetus. Testing is usually completed throughout the pregnancy to check for anemia.

There are several causes of the development of anemia in pregnancy. For pregnant women, low iron levels are the main cause of anemia. Other causes include diseases and conditions, such as sickle cell anemia.

During the early stages of pregnancy, a woman may not know that she has anemia. Symptoms may not be present and tests may not confirm anemia. As the baby begins to develop and requires more blood and oxygen, symptoms may begin to emerge.

Symptoms become noticeable as the body attempts to compensate for the increased need for blood and oxygen. This includes symptoms such as fatigue and weakness. Those in the early stages of anemia in pregnancy or those with severe anemia may also begin to experience headaches.

Other symptoms may become more noticeable as the condition progresses. This includes the possibility of cold hands and feet due to lack of circulation and shortness of breath due to a lack of oxygenated blood being sent to the lungs. Additional symptoms include pale skin, rapid heartbeat, and chest pain.

The diagnosis of anemia is usually made during routine tests during pregnancy. Those planning to become pregnant can be tested during a prenatal exam for anemia. Women who are already pregnant should be tested for anemia between 24 and 28 weeks of their pregnancy. Testing can help identify people with anemia and allow them to make corrections to help prevent the risks associated with anemia in pregnancy. These risks include low birth weight and premature delivery.

Various precautions can be taken to help limit the chances of developing anemia and the associated symptoms and risks. Taking a prenatal vitamin can help limit the chance of experiencing low iron levels during pregnancy. Additionally, eating a diet high in iron will also help prevent the development of anemia. Foods high in iron include oatmeal, spinach, and walnuts.

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