backup og meta

Anemia in Pregnancy: Are You at Risk of Being Anemic While Pregnant?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated May 13, 2022

Anemia in Pregnancy: Are You at Risk of Being Anemic While Pregnant?

Being pregnant can be a fun and exciting chapter in a person’s life, but it can also be a delicate time in terms of their health. So it’s important to take note of possible complications. Because when such things arise, it’s vital to take into consideration the next steps in one’s pregnancy journey. What does anemia in pregnancy mean for the mother and the child?

Anemia in Pregnancy: What’s the Link?

When you become pregnant, your body undergoes major changes and adjustments. The blood volume in your body rises by roughly 20-30%. Thus, increasing the availability of iron and vitamins required by the body to form hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in the red blood cells that transports oxygen to other cells in your body.

Pregnant women are more likely to develop anemia due to the increased volume of blood produced to assist in giving nutrition to the baby. Many women do not get enough iron during the second and third trimesters. When the body requires more iron than it has available, a person can become anemic.

Anemia in pregnancy is particularly concerning since it is linked to low birth weight, preterm birth, maternal mortality, as well as congenital diseases or defects. 

If detected early on, anemia in pregnancy could be a manageable mild issue. However, if left untreated, it can bring harm to both the mother and the baby.

Common Types of Anemia in Pregnancy

There are several kinds of anemia, but these few ones are common during pregnancy:

Iron deficiency anemia

This is considered to be the most common type of anemia.

Iron is a mineral present in red blood cells that assist the transportation of oxygen from the lungs towards the entire body. It enables the muscles to store and utilize oxygen. When the body produces insufficient iron, it becomes weary and has a decreased resistance to infection. 

Iron deficiency occurs in around 15% to 25% of all pregnancies. According to research, the risk seems to be about two-fold in cases of moderate or severe anemia. This is enhanced by 10–40% in cases of mild anemia.

Folate-deficiency anemia

Folate or folic acid refers to a water-soluble vitamin that could help avoid neural tube abnormalities during pregnancy. Pregnant women are recommended to take food and supplements containing folate. If you are planning to get pregnant, doctors advise an intake of folate even weeks before the actual pregnancy.

A folic acid-deficient diet can result in a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body, hence the term deficiency. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia

Just like folic acid, vitamin B12 is also a requirement by the body to aid with the generation of red blood cells. 

While some women may obtain adequate B-12 in their food, it is plausible that their bodies cannot metabolize the vitamin, still resulting in a shortage.

Are You at Risk of Anemia in Pregnancy?

You are more likely to become anemic while pregnant if you:

  • Have two pregnancies within a year of each other
  • Are expecting with more than one child (e.g. twins or triplets)
  • Are frequently having vomiting experiences as a result of morning sickness
  • Have inadequate iron consumption
  • Experienced a strong menstrual flow before pregnancy, or when you have cervical and/or placenta problems during pregnancy (as they lead to spotting or bleeding)

Signs and Symptoms of Anemia in Pregnancy

Pregnant women may show one or more of the following symptoms if they happen to be anemic at the same time:

  • Dizziness (vertigo)
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid (tachycardia) or irregular heartbeat
  • Pale skin, lips, palms of hands, nails, or even the underside of the eyelids
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Chest pains
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Headache 

Key Takeaways

Make sure to have your prenatal examinations and other routine blood tests to know if you have anemia and are at risk for further complications. 
Your symptoms, age, and overall health will be the basis of the recommended treatment. It may also be defined by the severity of the condition. Work with your attending physician to combat it with proper nutrition and supplement intake to make sure your pregnancy is safe and healthy.

Learn more about pregnancy problems here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated May 13, 2022

advertisement iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

advertisement iconadvertisement
advertisement iconadvertisement