Anemia (also referred to as low blood count or low iron) is common in pregnancy and can worsen after delivery. Our bodies are amazingly smart and are equipped to handle normal blood loss associated with delivery. However, if your blood count is already low prior to delivery or you lose more than the normal amount of blood during or just after delivery, then you are at risk for significant anemia. Anemia makes your body have to work harder to circulate oxygen to all of your important organs like your brain, your heart and your lungs. Low oxygen puts a strain on your heart and the other vital organs. Not to mention it just makes you feel poopie. Anemia also will make the healing process more difficult.
Here are some common signs of anemia (low blood count):
🩸Feeling like you are going to pass out – may worsen when you move from a sitting position to a standing position
🩸Racing heart, palpitations
🩸Fatigue or low energy
🩸Shortness of breath
What can you do to optimize your postpartum health and help improve your blood count?
🏻 Know your number. Ask your doctor or midwife what your blood count is and if it’s normal or too low.
🏻 Eat a healthy diet daily that includes green leafy vegetables (such as spinach), red meat, fish, legumes (such as beans, lentils, chickpeas), broccoli, and quinoa are all great options.
🏻 Cook with cast iron pots (some of the iron will naturally infuse into foods).
🏻 Take an oral iron supplement (be sure to add fiber to your diet and take a stool softener to avoid constipation, a common side effect of oral iron supplements).
These measures listed will slowly increase your iron stores which will slowly increase your blood count. It can take 6-8 weeks for your blood count to return to a normal range depending on the severity of the anemia.
⚠️ Severe anemia after delivery may require a blood transfusion to acutely raise your blood count to a more normal level or IV iron transfusions.
As always, if you have specific concerns about your blood count talk to your doctor or midwife.