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To be so worried about my iron levels whilst pregnant?

28 replies

Writerwannabe83 · 03/07/2017 13:23

I'm currently 33 weeks pregnant and anaemic which I have been since my week 12 Booking bloods. My level then was 10.2 which MW said wasn't too bad but it then dropped to 9.6 within 4 weeks and despite being on Iron tablets for about ten weeks now my level, when last checked three weeks ago, was still 9.8.

I've had my levels checked about 4 times since my 12 week bloods and my iron level has always been between 9.4 to 9.8.

At the end of April I was started on three iron tablets a day but the side effects were awful so I reduced down to two tablets a day which my GP and MW were happy with.

However, two weeks ago my Cardiologist has said that as my iron levels are still so low that I've got to back on the three tablets a day and just put up with the side effects. She has said that if by 35 weeks pregnant my levels aren't 11.2 at a minimum I will have to have an intravenous infusion of iron. She practically put the fear of God into me about that! Sad

So I've got more blood tests in two weeks and I'm doing EVERYTHING I can to try and increase my iron levels in terms of my diet as well as put up with the side effects of the tablets.

Has anyone else been persistently anaemic during pregnancy and had to have an infusion?

My Cardiologist has made me feel so nervous about it all Sad

OP posts:

Mrsdraper1 · 03/07/2017 13:49

Try other forms of iron. Iron tablets are rubbish and it's proven that you hardly absorb anything from them and the side effects are not pleasant. Floradix is good, as is Spatone. Probably go for the floradix in your situation, and get scoffing the dried apricots and spinach and have some nice bloody steak! (Sorry if your veggie/vegan)
I was anaemic in both pregnancies but I don't have heart issues so I guess it wasn't quite as stressful. My sis had a transfusion after DD was born and said it was great and made her feel like a new woman after ages being knackered.


Mrsdraper1 · 03/07/2017 13:51

This is the stuff
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CrohnicallyPregnant · 03/07/2017 13:54

Sounds like it might not be iron deficiency that is the problem.

The numbers you mention (9.6 etc) are your haemoglobin levels, i.e. a measure of the red blood cells in your blood. You need iron to make red blood cells, so if you don't have enough iron you won't have enough red blood cells.

However, there are other things that can contribute to anaemia. Just having enough iron won't guarantee that you will make red blood cells.

So I would ask for your ferritin (stored iron) levels to be checked. If your ferritin is good, this means you have enough iron and there is something else making you anaemic. If your ferritin is low, this suggests you either aren't absorbing your iron supplements properly (so need to look into changing to a different type of iron, or changing what you take your tablets with as some things increase absorption and others decrease it) or you are using the iron as fast as you take it (suggesting there is an underlying problem not just pregnancy anaemia).


Writerwannabe83 · 03/07/2017 13:59

When I was pregnant with DS I was never anaemic, my levels were always at least 12, so I've no idea why it's so bad this time.

I've had my Ferritin levels checked a few times but those results have never been mentioned to me, they only talk about my Iron levels. I know they're being checked again though in two weeks time as it's been specified on my blood sample ticket.

When I had my 12 week bloods and my Iron was 10.2 my MW said that I could try Spatone again (as I took this in DS1 pregnancy just to give me a boost) but after 4 weeks of being on it and my iron levels dropping even lower they said it obviously wasn't working and so was then prescribed the Ferrous Fumerate tablets.

My Cardiologist said that the infusion can be "pretty nasty" and with my medical history (SVT and epilepsy) it's something she really, really wants to avoid doing. I'm getting myself in a bit of a state over it.

OP posts:

Gerardbernie · 03/07/2017 14:02

Yes floradix as pp has said, it's magic! My iron levels were ok again after a couple of weeks of taking it. You can get it in boots and they sometimes do three for two


Writerwannabe83 · 03/07/2017 14:03

Can it be taken alongside me being on tablets too?

OP posts:

Gerardbernie · 03/07/2017 14:28

Sorry are you talking to me? If so, you'd have to check with the pharmacist but I don't think there's anything in there that would interact. It's definitely safe to take in pregnancy anyway


Writerwannabe83 · 03/07/2017 14:43

I was just enquiring as to whether I could get an iron overload or anything if I'm on three tablets a day and Floradix? Grin

OP posts:

Daffodils07 · 03/07/2017 14:59

I had an iron transfusion at 32 weeks as went into prem labour and when they did the blood tests my iron levels were very low.
It probably wouldn't of got that bad if my doctors/midwife actually told me my iron levels were an 8 at my 28 weeks bloods!
No wonder I felt awful, I had tachycardia,a tounge like burnt bacon.
A week after I felt so much better, but as I see your worried because of other conditions I would eat cereals with plenty of iron in them,green veg.
Do not drink tea with your iron tablets, good luck I hope you can bring them levels up.


ditzychick34 · 03/07/2017 15:17

I had the infusion, it wasn't bad at all. Sat in the maternity ward for 6 hours on the drip reading my book and then I drove home. Felt so much better afterwards


FuckingSausageFingers · 03/07/2017 15:37

Sorry if I'm stating the obvious as you might be doing this already, but the body needs plenty of vitamin c to absorb iron, so make sure you take your tablets with a glass of orange juice. There's always something to fret about in pregnancy isn't there? If it wasn't this it'd be something else! Try not to worry too much xx


Rockspin · 03/07/2017 15:46

I had to have 2 infusions (at 28 weeks and 35 weeks) and they were absolutely fine. I have a complex medical history (with cardiac issues also) and there was no mention that I should be worried about it, in fact everyone was very blasé about the whole thing (the only sense of urgency or importance was wanting me to go in the same day I got the results) apart from that everyone was laid back and I wasn't worried or anxious before hand. My ferritin levels were really low, and my hb was low too and the infusion was fine (only took an hour and it's literally just a drip in your arm then you go on the monitor to check on baby and you don't feel any different while it's being administered) you don't feel better right away it can take a couple of weeks. I was still a bit anaemic after I gave birth but I was allowed home the same day. I'm 6 weeks post partum now and about to have a follow up blood test and I may need another infusion if it's not risen (I've been taking ferrous sulphate since the birth).
But going back to the infusion, it's honestly, truly nothing to worry about and they are really quite common Smile


Writerwannabe83 · 03/07/2017 15:51

I've been put on a total tea ban. I've not had a cup now for 10 days and I miss it. I'm allergic to Orange Juice (makes me vomit) so all I'm drinking is Ribena due to it having a high Vitamin C content. I also take a Vit C supplement with my final tablet of the day.

At my last appointment I was practically accused of not taking my tablets which really pissed me off, and upset me, so now I HAVE to get my levels up because if they're low again in two weeks time they're probably going to accuse me again of not taking my medication.

I was told that if my levels are low at 35 weeks they will book me in to have the infusion when I'm 37 weeks.

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Starsandwishes · 03/07/2017 15:53

I had 2 sets of infusion when I was pregnant. They just put the needle in and hook it up. To the iron stuff. Sorry forgot what it's called. Then you just sit bored shitless for a couple of hours.


Funnyface1 · 03/07/2017 15:59

Prune juice is a good source of iron and will help you avoid constipation caused by the iron tablets. I was anemic in my first pregnancy but used prune juice in my second pregnancy and was very healthy.


Natsku · 03/07/2017 16:02

I'm anaemic this pregnancy, and was with my last one too (which got very bad but not due to iron deficiency but internal bleeding or something, needed a blood transfusion in the end) and this time around I've been prescribed a liquid supplement - Maltofer. Its really important to not eat anything dairy or drink tea within at least an hour of taking iron supplements.


RoseVase2010 · 03/07/2017 16:06

I'm not anemic but have a low end of normal. To ensure it doesn't drop (I had terrible fatigue in my first pregnancy) I am taking a Spatone a day in with a soluble vitamin C tablet.

That's easy enough to add into your diet.


FuckingSausageFingers · 03/07/2017 16:09

Funnyface1 just out of interest, what does prune juice taste like? I don't think I've ever eaten a prune! Like a huge raisin? Is it like drinking raisins?


AnnieOH1 · 03/07/2017 16:17

Avoid caffeine even more than you may already be around eating and taking your iron tablets. It prevents absorption.

Don't overdose on iron either though, I have iron overload and it's really no fun.


Schroedingerscatagain · 03/07/2017 16:19

I'm a coeliac and have major problems with standard iron, I use gentle iron by solgar which absorbs further on in your gut and has far fewer unpleasant side effects


Funnyface1 · 03/07/2017 16:29

Prune juice, it's an acquired taste! I found it unpleasant at first, almost bitter and maybe a bit alcoholic. Now I can knock it back no problem. It's amazing for constipation, from which I suffer. I'm probably not describing it very well, it's a case of give it a go I'm afraid!


PoppyFleur · 03/07/2017 16:40

OP vitamin C is really important to absorbing iron but tablet form isn't as good. Can you eat kiwi fruit? It's full of vitamin c, maybe have some for breakfast with a cereal that is fortified with iron?

Red meat is excellent and if you can eat it with colourful vegetables (for vitamin C) and green vegetables for more iron this will help.

However if you do have to have the infusion it's not too bad, just a drip and done in about an hour.


Writerwannabe83 · 03/07/2017 17:25

Thanks everyone for all your suggestions!!

I don't know if I'm brave enough to try Prune Juice.

Somebody told me that strawberries are a good source of Vitamin C so I'm eating those regularly too. I've also been told eggs are good for Iron so I'm eating two a day.

Nobody has ever told me not to have any dairy alongside the iron supplements!! It's so frustrating that the medical people don't think to tell you the basic information.

For the first six weeks of taking my tablets I was washing them down with a cup of tea and having my breakfast one with a bowl of cereal containing lots of milk. I was told not to take them on an empty stomach so I just ate and drank as normal.

It's reassuring to hear the infusion isn't too bad though, I will try to calm myself down about that.

OP posts:

DixieFlatline · 03/07/2017 17:45

You're ideally supposed to take iron on an empty stomach with just water (or maybe some juice containing vitamin C - I take a combined iron/Vit C tablet) and to not eat or take anything else at least two hours prior and after.

Especially avoid calcium-containing foods (e.g. dairy), caffeine in general, teas, coffee, chocolate, eggs, grains/cereals...

And yes, this means it is all a giant pain in the arse. But if you're cutting absorption by, say, 60% just by taking your iron alongside something containing the wrong things, it's not that surprising you're not getting very far with it. You could also try a different supplement, I read there are some containing both heme and non-heme sources, meaning you can be slightly less strict with when you take them and you'll still be likely to get a decent amount of iron. Really though, I'd just switch to making sure you take 2 a day on an empty stomach apart from something to give you some vit C each time and with a decent gap either side.


DixieFlatline · 03/07/2017 17:47

Did your iron supplement come with an information leaflet? The calcium thing was in there on mine. And the chemist made a point of telling me to avoid dairy. That's really rather thoughtless if they said nothing to you.

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