Iron Deficiency In Pregnancy New Moms and Toddlers

Iron Deficiency In Pregnancy New Moms and Toddlers

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and can have a big impact on your health. It’s particularly important during your pregnancy and for your child at six months and during toddler hood.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, iron requirements are two to three times more than for a woman who is not pregnant. That comes down to the fact that you’re supporting a growing baby whose iron stores need to be laid down and that your own blood volume is increasing to support that growing baby.

Generally, the body will direct iron to the baby at the expense of the mother. That’s why it’s really important that going into a pregnancy you’re as fit and healthy as possible, but also that your iron levels are replete.

The general recommended iron intake for pregnant women is 27 milligrams per day, but during the second and third trimester the demands are even higher because baby is growing so rapidly.

What Pregnant Women Should eat

If a pregnant woman is having toast or cereal for breakfast then there’s a little bit of non-haem iron in there, but to really make the most of it she needs to include some kiwifruit or a glass of orange juice, or even a tomato on her toast to maximize the iron from that meal.

At lunch, if she’s having a salad with mainly vegetables, adding a meat component or an animal protein is going to help increasethe iron from those vegetables about fourfold. It’s known as the ‘meat factor’. Red meat could be in the diet three times a week, with a portion size of 100-150 grams and then you can alternate that with white meats like fish and chicken.

Be aware that drinking tea inhibits iron intake, so don’t drink it with main meals – ideally about an hour or two on either side.

Babies

Because babies build their iron stores in that last trimester, by the time born they have a good level to keep them going. Breast milk or formula will be enough iron for that first six months. By the time you introduce complementary foods (around six months) those iron stores are
tapering off and need supplementing with iron-rich foods. By seven months, babies Puréed red meat is recognised as a first food because it’s iron rich and has haem iron, which is easily absorbed. Then there are iron-fortified cereals, but they are a plant source (non-haem iron) so the body doesn’t absorb as much.

In this case it’s good to include fruit with vitamin C to help baby absorb as much as possible.

Toddlers

Low iron levels is something that we look for in toddlers as well – especially if they’re a happy child and suddenly become irritable, sensitive and grumpy. They may also be more prone to getting sick. Because the first three years are key in terms of brain development, it’s something we want to be aware of, as iron plays an important role in that.

New Mums

The key point here is when menstruation resumes: for breastfeeding women, if her menstruation hasn’t returned then her iron needs aren’t as great. When it does return she might need to increase her intake.

Pregnant women need 27 mgs per day
Non-pregnant women need about 18 mgs per day
Breastfeeding women who aren’t menstruating need 9-10 mgs per day.

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