The Impact of Postpartum Iron Deficiencies
Women are not only more susceptible to iron deficiencies during menstruation and pregnancy, but also during the postpartum period after giving birth as well. Iron plays an important role in women’s lives at all stages of life, and postpartum iron deficiencies and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) can result in serious health concerns for new mothers.
Causes of Postpartum Anemia
One Danish study found that 26 percent of women who had a normal delivery, and were not taking iron supplements, were deficient in iron a week after giving birth. When a woman is pregnant, her iron needs increase, and even acute bleeding during childbirth can cause a nutrient deficiency of iron.
If a woman experienced an iron deficiency during pregnancy, she is more likely to have this deficiency after giving birth as well. Other factors that can affect iron deficiency postpartum include having a caesarean section, hypertension, or a large amount of blood loss during delivery.
Symptoms and Risks of Postpartum Anemia
Women who have recently given birth are often concerned about postpartum depression, breastfeeding, and exhaustion. Studies have shown that the amount of iron in the body can have an effect on many of the health issues new mothers experience after giving birth. Postpartum anemia symptoms can last 6 to 12 months after giving birth.
These are some of the most common for postpartum women:
- Fatigue lasting more than a couple weeks
- Extreme irritability that causes concern
- An inability to keep up with normal activities and chores
- Frequent headaches
If you have been diagnosed with postpartum anemia, you should be aware of the potential risks that can impact you and your baby. These are some of the most common risks that can occur:
- Higher risk of postpartum depression
- Reduced quality and quantity of breast milk
- Higher risk of urinary tract infections
Multiple Births & Postpartum Anemia
Since carrying more than one baby at a time requires more nutrients from the mother’s body, women who have twins, triplets, or beyond are often at a higher risk for developing postpartum anemia. Actually, many women carrying two or more babies will develop iron deficiency anemia, with the risk increases with each additional child carryied.
Doctors often prescribe supplements to mothers of multiple babies during pregnancy to keep iron and folic acid levels where they need to be. If left untreated, anemia can affect how babies grow during pregnancy and cause complications during delivery.
Treatment for Postpartum Iron Deficiency Anemia
Fortunately, there are some easy measures to prevent postpartum anemia, including eating an iron-rich diet full of lean meats, green leafy vegetables, and vitamin C to increase the body’s absorption of iron. In severe cases, postpartum women have been recommended blood transfusions and a hormone called erythropoietin to boost dangerously low iron levels after childbirth.
Pregnant women can also speak with a doctor about taking an iron deficiency supplement, like Fergon, depending upon the level of deficiency.
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