Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. The body does not get enough oxygen when RBCs are lower than normal.
Blood is made up of many blood cell types and plasma. These all increase during pregnancy. RBCs do not go up as much, which can lead to anemia.
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The most common cause is low iron levels. Iron is a mineral found in hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of the RBC that carries oxygen. The body needs more iron during pregnancy. Anemia happens when these needs are not met.
Other causes are:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Some people may not have symptoms. Those who do may have:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. This may be enough to suspect the diagnosis.
Your blood will be tested for:
Other testing of the blood will help look for a cause.
The treatment for anemia will depend on the cause. This may include:
The risk of this problem may be lowered by getting regular prenatal care and:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Pregnancy Association
Canadian Women's Health Network
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Anemia & pregnancy. American Society of Hematology website. Available at: https://www.hematology.org/education/patients/anemia/pregnancy. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Anemia and pregnancy. UCSF Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/anemia-and-pregnancy. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Iron deficiency anemia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/iron-deficiency-anemia-in-adults. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Treatment of iron deficiency anemia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/treatment-of-iron-deficiency-anemia-in-adults. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC Last Updated: 9/21/2021