Is Anemia Preventing You From Conceiving a Baby?
Anemia may be slowing down your plans for expanding your family. Commonly caused by an iron deficiency, anemia is the result of too few red blood cells or inadequate hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin is the vehicle for carrying oxygen through your body and to your organs.
Your body’s main objective is to keep you alive. If it detects that your well being is threatened by anemia, it is less likely to take on the added burden of reproduction. In other words, as far as your body is concerned, conceiving a baby is a bonus activity, only to be undertaken at optimal health.
The most common type of anemia is IDA, or Iron Deficiency Anemia. Women with very heavy or long periods or who suffer with uterine fibroids are at a higher risk for IDA. A diet low in iron and certain disorders like Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease can also cause anemia. Female athletes and women who have had more then one child are also more likely to have anemia.
To optimize your chances for pregnancy, it’s important to recognize underlying health issues like anemia that your body may be battling. Anemia symptoms can be very mild in the beginning and only become noticeable as the problem progresses. Symptoms that may indicate anemia include:
Fatigue (very common)
Weakness (very common)
Numbness, tingling, or chill in your hands and feet
Low body temperature, lethargy, and weakness
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Shortness of breath
Not performing well at work or in school
Your health care provider can diagnose anemia by checking your hemoglobin and red blood cell count in a simple blood test called a CBC. The treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause of the anemia but often includes taking iron supplements and increasing dietary iron consumption.
The best way to prevent anemia and be sure you’re in prime condition to conceive a baby, is by eating a diet rich in natural, minimally processed food sources of iron. Lentils and beans, dark leafy green vegetables, lean red meats, tofu, dried fruits such as apricots, prunes, and raisins, fish, blackstrap molasses, and fortified cereals are all excellent dietary sources of iron. More iron rich food sources can be found at the National Institute of Health’s Dietary Iron Fact Sheet.
Caffeine inhibits your body’s ability to absorb the iron in your food. To increase the amount of dietary iron your body absorbs, avoid drinking coffee or tea with meals.
Vitamin C, on the other hand, aids your body in the absorption of iron. Slice strawberries on your spinach salad or add broccoli to your tofu stir fry for an iron super infusion.
If you suspect you may be anemic, see your health care provider. She can test you for the disorder, recommend appropriate solutions, and answer questions you may have regarding anemia and conception.