Are you feeling chronically exhausted, light headed, or even dizzy? Are your feet swollen and are you having a hard time concentrating? Or maybe you are addicted to crunching ice?
Many think that most of the symptoms above, such as fatigue and swollen feet, are common to pregnancy, which is true. But may I exhort you for a moment to be diligent in knowing your body. If you are experiencing all of the symptoms above, it would be wise to inform you caregiver and have a CBC and protein check done on your next visit, because you could be experiencing anemia during pregnancy.
There are 3 common types of anemia that can occur during pregnancy and postpartum.
1. Iron Deficiency Anemia: a condition where your body isn’t producing enough healthy red blood cells (hemoglobin) to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues. This is usually caused by low iron. This is the most common type of anemia in pregnancy.
2. Folate (folic acid) Deficiency Anemia: Folic acid is a form of vitamin b, which the body needs to produce new cells, including red blood cells. This is a less common form of anemia, but can contribute to certain birth defects.
3. Vitamin B-12 Deficiency: When a woman doesn’t have a diet sufficient with Vitamin B-12, her body can’t produce enough red blood cells. “Women who don’t eat meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs have a greater risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency,… which can also lead to preterm labor.” WebMd
Clearly another reason for anemia is blood loss during labor and birth.
After experiencing a peaceful, beautiful birth with my sixth, I experienced something quite unexpected following his birth. I had a massive postpartum hemorrhage, where my hemoglobin level decreased from a solid 14.1 to 6.7 a week after birth.
I share more about this journey and what I learned from the Lord, about myself, and my family during this season of postpartum in my book Redeeming Childbirth, which you can purchase here.
I had never experienced anemia during any of my pregnancies, so I was quite unprepared for what to expect the next 6-8 weeks postpartum. Fortunately, my midwives were amazing caregivers and I was blessed to have older women in my life who knew how to supplement my diet to build new red blood cells. Under their supervision and guidance we learned a regiment of healthy supplements in order to rebuild my blood supply as quickly and naturally as possible.
As many of you know, I am expecting our 7th baby now and we are thrilled to welcome this new one to our family any week now, but I have experienced pregnancy induced anemia this pregnancy and am excited to share with you, as those older women shared with me six years ago, the tricks of the trade for building your blood supply up.
First, I want to encourage you. One of my sweet midwives, and sisters in the Lord shared with me that God designed our bodies for this beautiful work of birth, and that one way He has done that is by creating our bodies to increase blood supply during pregnancy! We are supposed to expect that there will be some blood loss in birth and not to be scared by it, because God designed us to produce more blood during pregnancy for this reason as well as others. Many cultures view it as a cleansing out of the womb, the sacred place in a woman’s body where God creates human life. Isn’t that beautiful!?
When I was diagnosed with anemia this pregnancy, I asked my doctor and CNM if I could begin the treatments I was doing postpartum, in attempts to build up my blood supply before birth. They were very encouraging and gave me the go ahead and here is what I have been doing! I would encourage you to do the same. Before using any supplements, you should consult your Doctor or Midwife.
Dietary Supplements to Build Your Blood Supply
**As a rule of thumb, red blood cells take 30 days to rebuild/produce.
- 1/4 Cup of Coconut Milk + 2 Droppers full of ChlorOxygen! This is my pregnancy cocktail. Not really, it’s actually not fantastic tasting, so sometimes I toss it into my daily juice or smoothie. This mixture of chlorophyll and coconut milk is used in primitive countries instead of blood transfusions.
- Floradix: This is a vegetarian iron and herbal supplement made for rebuilding red blood cells. Also doesn’t taste like candy, but it isn’t that bad! I have been taking 10 ml every day and this 250 ml bottle has lasted me about 3-4 weeks.
- Amaranth/Pig Weed: In America, it is known as a weed, but in other countries it is cultivated as a leaf vegetable. It is very high in iron and can be found prolific in many areas throughout the NW of America. You simply harvest, wash, cut and add to other dishes when cooking or toss in the juicer or blender to add to a smoothie. We found that it tasted pretty good in kale, goat cheese, tomato omelets! 🙂
- Adding more RED MEATS and GREEN LEAFY Veggies to your daily diet.
How do you know if you are at higher risk of developing anemia during pregnancy?
- If you have severe morning sickness or HG
- If you have been depleted from multiple pregnancies back to back and not cared for yourself
- If you normally struggle with anemia
- If you do not eat enough high in iron rich foods
Taking Care of Your Blood Levels During Pregnancy Can Help with Postpartum Recovery!
Sisters, listen postpartum healing, depression, hormones, and adjustment of life transition are all realities we need to prepare for. It has been clinically proven that those that suffer from low iron actually have a higher risk of postpartum depression. Not only that, but if you experience a hemorrhage or excessive bleeding in birth or postpartum you will have a hard time functioning. You will actually experience MORE fatigue than the healthy mom.
Most of us know and are anticipating a season of recovery after birth. We are told to “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “make sure you drink enough water and eat well.” These are great words of wisdom, but it is especially important for the postpartum mom to be aware of her body’s symptoms post birth and to speak with her care providers if she is experiencing continued swelling in the feet, dizziness, or chronic fatigue. Sometimes thyroid issues can pop up during this time as well, so it is important to take care of mama.
My suggestion is to have at least one of these supplements on hand so you are ready! That way your poor husband doesn’t have to be wondering the stores looking for the little tincture bottle of chloropyll, but can instead be at home with you, helping you change diapers!
My prayer for you is that you are rested, healthy, and ready to delight in this precious and sacred season when your little one is born. Taking care of yourself well now is so important. I have to keep telling myself that non-eternal things need to go on the back burner for a little while just so I can focus on what is the most important. I hope that you can exercise that same wisdom and self discipline.
God Bless as You Care for Yourself and Your Sweet Baby!
Your Sister in the Journey,