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Anemia After Delivery: Causes, Signs & Treatment

WHAT IS POSTPARTUM ANEMIA?

Postpartum anemia is anemia after delivery of a baby. Anemia is a condition where the body has a lower number of red blood cells. Iron intake is essential to prevent anemia regardless pre or post pregnancy/ delivery. 

 

CAUSES

One of the major causes of postpartum anemia includes the excessive blood loss during the delivery process. On top of that, mothers with iron deficiency prior to pregnancy and delivery will usually develop post- partum anemia too. That is why doctors most likely will advise pregnant mothers to have iron level to be tested.

 

SIGNS OF LOW IRON

Sometimes, mothers will not experience any symptoms during pregnancy, but do notice after delivery, like fatigue, low energy, pale irritability, and dizziness or headache.

 

HOW TO INCREASE IRON LEVEL?

According to RNI Malaysia, the iron requirement during the first trimester remains, however during the second and third trimester, the needs increase. For lactating mothers, the iron requirement is about 10-15mg/day. As for lactating mothers with menstruation, the requirement will be higher, around 20-30mg/day.  

Iron level can be increased by consuming iron rich foods. There are two types of iron- the haem iron and non-haem iron. Haem iron is derived primarily from animal sources (meats, fish, and poultry). Whilst non-haem iron is found in plant-based sources such as breads, cereals, dark leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kangkong), legumes, soybean and soy bean products. Haem iron has better absorption as compared to non- haem. Iron supplements may also be introduced to increase iron level if you are having trouble to get adequate amounts from diet alone. Mothers are advised to talk to your doctors before taking any iron supplement or product, especially for those with Thalassemia.

 

TIPS

A great tip to increase iron absorption is to try to consume iron (food or supplement) along with vitamin C (fruits, fruit juice or supplement).

Next, do not drink milk, dairy products or caffeine together with an iron supplement. Also, consume the iron supplement between meals to minimize risk of stomach upset. 

Do not hesitate to contact your practitioners or dietitian to get more information regarding this matter. 

 

REFERENCES

Milman, N. (2012). Postpartum anemia II: prevention and treatment. Annals of hematology91(2), 143-154.

National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition Ministry of Health Malaysia (2017). Retrieved from http://nutrition.moh.gov.my/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/FA-Buku-RNI.pdf 

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