Iron Levels in Pregnancy

Iron levels in pregnancy can easily be checked during your routine blood tests.

Your iron levels can be looked at pre-pregnancy and during your pregnancy to check if there is any significant change.

If you are low in iron, you will feel tired, and exhausted and may find it hard to complete your usual daily activities. For some people, low iron can also impact their mood and mental health. It’s important to ensure your diet has the iron that your body needs.

The body more easily absorbs iron from meat, fish and chicken. But there are a number of foods you can eat to help get your iron from various sources.

Good sources of iron can include, whole-grain cereals and bread, green vegetables such as broccoli or asparagus, dried peas and beans, dried fruits, nuts and iron-enriched breakfast cereals, but the iron is not as readily absorbed. Iron absorption from these foods will be improved if they are:

  1. Eaten with meat, fish or poultry; or
  2. Eaten at the same time as vitamin c rich food e.g. citrus, tropical and berry fruits, raw tomato, cabbage, capsicum, broccoli and fruit juices labelled as containing Vitamin

Some of the best sources of Iron during Pregnancy are:

  • Liver (60g) 8.5mg
  • Kidney (35g) 4.9mg
  • Beef – 2 slices (75g) 3.8mg
  • Lamb – 2 slices (75g) 2.1mg
  • Sardines – 4 2.1mg
  • Chicken – 2 pieces (75g) 1.6mg
  • Fish – 1 piece (120gm) 1.6mg

Try to combine the following items with meat, fish or poultry and/or a Vitamin C-rich food.

  • Soy Beans – 1\2 cup 4.6mg
  • Baked Beans – 1\2 cup 2.0mg
  • Lentils or Lima Beans – 1\2 cup 2.0mg
  • Almonds – 1\4 cup 2.0mg
  • Wholegrain Bread – 2 slices 1.9mg
  • Prunes – 5 or 6 1.8mg
  • Broccoli – 1 stalk 1.4mg
  • Oats – 1 cup (cooked) 1.4mg
  • Leafy Vegetables – 1\2 cup 1.4mg
  • Dried Apricots – 6 x 1\2 1.1mg
  • White Bread – 2 slices 0.5mg

Is it true there is Iron in Chocolate?

Yes. There is iron in dark chocolate. If you have good quality dark chocolate (minimise the sugar) you’ll get 2mg per ounce (or 11% of your daily needs). But, remember an ounce of dark chocolate is 1-2 squares only and you should be aiming for 70% dark chocolate.

How much Iron should I take during Pregnancy?

This is the daily iron intake women need at certain ages. It’s important to note the increased requirement during pregnancy.

  • Women 13-55 years – 12-16mg
  • Over 55 years – 5-7mg
  • Pregnant – 22-36mg
  • Breastfeeding – 12-16mg

What impacts Iron Absorption?

Large quantities of antacids taken over a long time can interfere with your iron absorption.

Large quantities of unprocessed bran, tea or coffee or excessive milk and cheese consumption can interfere with iron absorption.

Can I have an Iron Infusion during Pregnancy?

Yes. For some patients, an iron infusion might be advisable. We will discuss this when we see the results of your blood test and talk about your diet and any other health concerns. If you need an iron infusion, I will provide this to you in my private rooms, you will not need to go elsewhere to have your iron infusion.

If you are concerned about your iron levels, it’s important to speak with your doctor.

Give the rooms a call to make an appointment.

Author: Dr Peter England, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist.
Read more about Dr Peter England

Download the free Pregnancy Handbook for more information about pregnancy and birth.