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Boosting iron levels

(18 Posts)
LackingNicknameInspiration Tue 03-Nov-09 05:02:11


Wondered if I could pick your brains a bit?

Had 36 week check with MW yesterday who mentioned that my iron count was low at my last blood tests (at 28 weeks, so a while back, but think from my general knackeredness that may still be the case). They're not catastrophic, at 10.2, but need to be up above 10.5 for me to go for a Home birth which I'm currently pencilled in for. Have to confess that I think this is probably down to less than perfect diet at the moment - have been finding that by the time DD (aged 2) off in bed, cooking anything that takes more than about 5 mins for self and DH has just seemed an enormous effort.

I've got floradix to take twice a day on MW's recommendation, and have also stocked up on red meat/leafy veg/fortified cereal, as well as fresh orange juice to take with them but wondered if anyone has any other suggestions? Also, any idea how long it takes for levels to go up/start feeling better? Am more concerned re the latter although have been told to delay blood test till next week in the hope that levels will have gone back up by then.


EldonAve Tue 03-Nov-09 06:45:14

Avoid tea with or after meals

AngelDog Tue 03-Nov-09 07:06:27

When I had low iron levels after a miscarriage with baby no 1 (again, not catastrophic - just on the low side, but it did have a big effect on me), I noticed the difference within a fortnight of starting taking supplements. Although I was watching for improvements in my exhaustion/depression, I didn't notice the gradual improvement until about 2 weeks afterwards when I suddenly realised I was a different person from the tired, weepy wreck I had been.

I think you're supposed to avoid coffee as well as tea with / within 1/2 hour or so of meals as this inhibits iron absorption. Apparently it being caffeinated/decaf makes no difference to this.

Lentils & beans are also high in iron - if you're pushed for time, buy the sort in tins and just throw them into whatever you're eating.

Hope you manage to get those levels up again!

AngelDog Tue 03-Nov-09 07:08:18

PS My GP told me that since I had had lowish iron levels and since it clearly affected me, I should keep on taking supplements not only during pregnancy but all the way through breast feeding as well. I don't take any special supplements, just Pregnacare, but it may be worth checking out with your doctor/midwife whether you should carry on with supplements once you give birth. After all, you're likely to lose a lot of blood in the process (which was what caused me the problem with low iron in the first place).

turtle23 Tue 03-Nov-09 07:15:43

Just to say that you are still allowed to have a homebirth with levels under 10.5. You just have to put your foot down.
Also, try taking chlorophyll and avoid grapes, tea, coffee.
Vegetable iron is more easily absorbed than red meat, so if it's a choice between the two go for veg.
They can't be too worried if nobody has mentioned it til now!!
Good luck with the birth. x

PootleTheFlump Tue 03-Nov-09 09:49:35

In my area your iron has to be over 10, so there must be some leeway, and as my midwife said, it is always your choice! I have had the same problem, and ferrous sulphate made me sick, but ferrous gluconate on prescription has worked well. I can also recommend spatone (from the chemist)in the morning in OJ (you can take 2 sachets in pg) and found that easier to take than floradix. Good luck.

maniacbug Tue 03-Nov-09 10:18:36

Same here - Floradix and Spatone didn't boost me enough though so they put me on Pregaday, which seems to have worked (and doesn't seem to come with the side-effects I remember from iron sulphate tabs first time round). Wholewheat bread, brown rice and baked potatoes also good for iron, and dried fruit. And baked beans. I read somewhere that some things are more effective in combination, e.g. baked beans on wholewheat toast, lentils with brown rice... Not sure of the science behind that though!
Apparently a mug of Ovaltine is good for a quick iron burst: my MIL was recommended it when pregnant and has never managed to kick the habit (along with ginger biscuits in the morning to stave off morning sickness. She's now 65).

abra1d Tue 03-Nov-09 10:22:15

'Vegetable iron is more easily absorbed than red meat'

Are you sure about this?

londonlottie Tue 03-Nov-09 10:40:31

Message withdrawn

LackingNicknameInspiration Tue 03-Nov-09 12:19:51

Thanks all for the advice - knew this was the best place to ask! - and commiserations to those of you who are suffering worse than I am.

Am going for the red meat and leafy veg option, so will hopefully get the double hit whichever is absorbed fastest. Thanks too for the tea/coffee advice, particularly re decaf - that's definitely worth knowing as I always used to have tea with breakfast. And also good to know that HBs can go ahead and that min levels are 10 elsewhere. MW is massively pro HB, so I think would probably be persuadable anyway, but that's useful to have as a fact. It also struck me yesterday that this should really have been picked up sooner, as the last set of bloods I had was at the end of Sep - but I've only seen her once since then and that was during my HB booking visit, so guessing she didn't have the results with her, as they seemed to have been put onto the screen yesterday - and, of course, no one sent them to me. So, sure I can get some leverage using that fact if things look a bit borderline next week.

Anyway, off for a nice iron-rich lunch - thanks again, ladies, and good luck to you all (and londonlottie, hope the contraband steaks keep on coming!).

maniacbug Tue 03-Nov-09 13:18:36

Interesting: just found this article, which says that as well as phytates in whole grains interfering with iron absorption (which totally contradicts advice I was given!), oxalates in SPINACH can actually be a prob too. And spinach is one of those things that's almost universally recommended, isn't it? Bit confused now!

maniacbug Tue 03-Nov-09 13:28:23

Ah, apparently OK to eat spinach as long as you combine it with an iron absorption enhancer, i.e. meat/fish, vitamin-C-rich foods or (!) white wine. So, as you were then...

Danthe4th Tue 03-Nov-09 13:30:06

My iron levels were very low under 9 when I had a homebirth, mw had to agree as I have fast deliveries so not much choice but I had to agree to having the jab that makes the uterus contract after the birth so to minimize any blood loss. With previous births I delivered the placenta naturally and was happy to wait but with the planned homebirth I agreed to help.
It since turned out after years of an iron count less than 11 I'm coeliac but thats another story!!

displayuntilbestbefore Tue 03-Nov-09 13:32:13

dried apricots and chocolate are good sources of iron.
If you soak the apricots in orange juice as a wintery fruit salad or to put on breakfast cereals, oats etc., you'll get vit C too which aids absorption of iron so it's a 2 for 1 health boost!

LackingNicknameInspiration Tue 03-Nov-09 14:08:17

Rather excited by the mention of white wine and chocolate there....grin - but think it will be the OJ and dried apricot option instead, good idea displayuntil..

And bit more info re the homebirth also handy, always best to know as much as possible, really.

This is really very much appreciated, thank you all again.

PootleTheFlump Tue 03-Nov-09 19:25:23

Just wanted to let you know that my MW rang today to say that my latest iron is 12.6, and it was only 10.4 a couple of weeks ago. She took the blood after only 5 days of ferrous gluconate, x2 spatone sachets in OJ, and dried apricots on fortified cereal (forgot to suggest that earleir, loads of cereals have extra iron, though you take them with milk..) so I am all on for an HB. Hope yours manage to come up as quickly!

turtle23 Tue 03-Nov-09 20:03:08

I wrote that ost saying to myself dont get it the wrong way rounds. And I did, sorry. Haven't slept for a week and am 37 weeks pg. Brain gone.
Calcium affects absorption too, apparently. Off to bed now.

LackingNicknameInspiration Thu 05-Nov-09 21:02:27

Sorry, haven't had a chance to get on here in last couple of days, but some more useful stuff there, ta. turtle, hope you've managed to get a bit of sleep, poor you. And pootle, thanks very much for letting me know that, that's made me feel much more positive about it - that's quite a big leap, so fingers crossed! Good luck with your HB.

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