Pregnancy is an extraordinary experience in the life of a woman. There are quite some challenges that an expecting mother has to conquer in the course of the pregnancy. Among them, some health issues are found to occur often, like issues with the hemoglobin level (anemia) of the blood.
In Ayurveda, Garbhini-Pandu (anemia in pregnancy) has not been referred so far, but at one place Kashyapa stated that if a pregnant woman become weak and white complexioned, her fetus gets troubled. This condition may simulate to anemia in pregnancy and its complication. In general, under Pandu Roga the features of anemia may be kept.
Why Do Hemoglobin Levels Drop During Pregnancy?
It is quite normal for hemoglobin levels to fall during pregnancy (11.5 TO 15 g/dl). This is because the blood volume increases by 50% in the course of pregnancy for providing essential nutrients for the developing baby. It starts to increase around the 8th week of pregnancy. The increase in blood plasma is higher, when compared to the increased RBC (red blood cells increase by 20%) volume. This naturally decreases the concentration of RBC in the blood, bringing down hemoglobin levels. The level of hemoglobin dropping to 10.5 g/dl is quite normal in the course of pregnancy.
Am I At A Risk Of Low Hemoglobin levels During Pregnancy?
Mild variation in hemoglobin levels is common during pregnancy. However, setting foot in pregnancy with a low hemoglobin level can cause some severe issues. Your hemoglobin levels will fall significantly from the very beginning of pregnancy if:
- Heavy menstrual periods
- A diet low in iron-rich foods
- A diet low in vitamin-C-rich foods (which help with iron absorption)
- Eating too many foods or drinks that reduce iron absorption (like dairy products, foods containing soy, coffee and tea)
- A short gap between pregnancies
- Being younger than 20 when you become pregnant
- Having a stomach or intestinal disease that affects how your body absorbs nutrients
- Having certain types of gastric bypass surgery, which alters the gut and absorption of nutrients
- Taking medication that affects the way your body absorbs iron from food
- Losing more blood than normal when giving birth previously
What are the symptoms of low level of hemoglobin?
You might not have any symptoms, especially if your anemia is mild. Sometimes tiredness is the only symptom you notice. And it's common to feel tired during pregnancy; so many women don't realize that a lack of iron is making them feel more tired than normal.
Fatigue and weakness are the most common symptoms of severe anemia. Other symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Pale complexion
- Chest pain
- Irritability or poor concentration
- An unpleasant urge to move your legs during periods of inactivity (restless legs syndrome)
- Leg cramps
- Craving nonfood items (pica) or ice to suck or chew on
- Pale lips, inner eyelids, and the inside of your mouth
- Spoon-shaped nails
- Glossy tongue
- Cracks in the corners of your mouth
Effects of low hemoglobin on Your Baby
- Low birth weight.
- Preterm delivery.
- Increased maternal mortality.
- Lack of folic acid may lead to neural tube and other birth defects in your baby.
- Anemia in your baby.
- Developmental delays
Management Of Low Hemoglobin Level During Pregnancy
- Include more raisins, dates, pomegranates, apples, sesame seeds, jaggery, figs and beetroot in your diet.
- Take iron supplements under your physician’s guidance.
- Eat iron-rich foods like Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli, green peas, lentils, coriander, capsicum, potatoes, tomatoes, beans
- Take vitamin rich foods like oranges, tomatoes, amla, lemon, etc to enhance iron absorption.
- Include more fresh fruits like strawberries, pear, plums, banana, kiwi and whole grains.
- Include nuts like almonds, dried apricots and peanut
- Cook food in iron vessels
- Add honey and brown rice in your diet.
- Start eating healthy food during your prenatal period itself.
- If you are non-vegetarian include eggs and organ meat.
- Make sure you drink enough milk. But, avoid drinking milk immediately after taking an iron supplement as calcium may interrupt iron absorption.
Ayurvedic Supplements for Treating Anemia
In a pregnant woman (Garbhini), the blood has to provide nutrition for three causes - nourishment of mother’s body, for lactation and for growth of the fetus. Thus, a pregnant woman (Garbhini) is more prone to suffer from Pandu. In all types of Pandu, Pitta is the root cause.
The following Ayurvedic supplements are beneficial:
Dhatri lauha, Punarnava mandura, Lohasavam, Saptamrita lauha, Dadimadi gritha, Amalaki churna, Amalaki rasayana and Chyawanprash are beneficial.