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How to Increase Hemoglobin Levels During Pregnancy

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  • November 10, 2020
  • MKB Team

Hemoglobin is a protein found in the red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the rest of the body. During pregnancy, a woman’s hemoglobin levels should be optimum to ensure a proper supply of oxygen. To increase hemoglobin levels during pregnancy, follow a healthy diet throughout the pregnancy and engage in moderate exercise as advised by your physician. Ensure that you derive proper nourishment from the foods you eat. Also, get your hemoglobin levels checked by your doctor regularly.

What should be the hemoglobin level during pregnancy?

Low levels of hemoglobin may lead to anaemia and even high levels of hemoglobin are unhealthy. Hence, maintaining proper levels of hemoglobin during pregnancy is essential for the health of the mother and the baby. According to the World Health Organization, the hemoglobin levels in pregnant women should be more than 11g/dl in the first and third trimester of pregnancy, and more than 10.5g/dl in the second trimester of pregnancy. Low levels of hemoglobin during pregnancy are likely to be associated with low birth weight and preterm birth.

Ways to improve hemoglobin levels during pregnancy

Food & Nutrition

If your hemoglobin is below the ideal levels, you need an infusion of iron-rich foods in your diet. Remember that you need 27 mg of iron in a day during pregnancy. Include foods like:

  • Fruits and green vegetables: Fruits like apples, oranges, apricots and figs have rich sources of iron. Among vegetables, try peas, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, parsley, sprouts, turnips, asparagus, tomatoes and green peppers. Green vegetables are recommended. 
  • Dry Fruits: Try dry fruits like peanuts, almonds, raisins, dates, dry figs and hazelnuts which are iron-rich.
  • Grains, cereals and bread: Include wheat germ, wheat, buckwheat, millet, barley, oats, and cereals and bread in your pregnancy diet.
  • Poultry and seafood: Eggs, chicken, liver, pork, beef, lamb, and seafood such as oysters, sardines, clams, tuna, and shrimp, are recommended during pregnancy.
  • Other foods to boost hemoglobin levels are coconut, peanut butter, chocolate, and nettle tea.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C like cauliflower, strawberries, green pepper, kiwifruit, tomatoes and potatoes are also good choices. Vitamin C might help to absorb iron from the food you have and produce more hemoglobin in your body. This is important as apart from consuming iron-rich foods, you also need to consume foods that absorb iron to produce more hemoglobin.  
  • Pulses: Pulses are packed with protein and iron, and you can consume them by adding them in both salads and/or soups. You can also add them to your bread. Peas, lentils and beans are also an excellent choice being rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, iron, and protein. They make a balanced diet for pregnant women.
  • Asparagus: As asparagus is rich in iron, you can take a little asparagus soup if you are looking for something light and easy to eat and digest. You may add some sesame seeds in this soup for more iron content if you desire.  
  • Vegetables Rich in Folic Acid: Folic acid or folate is a vitamin that plays a vital role in producing hemoglobin. To meet your folic acid requirements, you can include corn, bananas, lettuce, okra, turnips, sprouts and avocado in your pregnancy diet.  
  • Seeds: Some seeds like pumpkin seeds, almond seeds and sunflower seeds are iron-rich and consumption of these during pregnancy may raise your hemoglobin levels.
  • Drinking a smoothie made from apples, beetroot and carrots can increase your hemoglobin levels during pregnancy.

Exercise

Another way to increase your hemoglobin levels naturally during pregnancy is to exercise. When you exercise, your body produces more hemoglobin to meet the increasing demand for oxygen that your body needs. But make sure you avoid high-intensity workouts during pregnancy for the risk of injury, and engage in moderate-intensity workouts instead and that too after prior consultation with your doctor. Doing pranayamas can also improve your hemoglobin count.

What needs to be avoided?

Avoid iron blockers in your diet to prevent your hemoglobin levels from dropping. If your hemoglobin count is low, avoid foods, beverages, and drinks that block your body’s capacity to absorb iron. Quit drinking tea, coffee, soft drinks, beer, and wine immediately.

Were your hemoglobin levels in pregnancy low? How did you improve them? Do share your experience with us in the comments section and any suggestions that you might have. We’d love to hear from you!

Q & A

You ask and we answer!

How can I increase my hemoglobin in a week?

Priya Jacob, Bangalore. 

Here are 7 natural Ways to increase hemoglobin

  • Eat Iron-Rich Foods. 
  • Increase Vitamin C Intake.
  • Increase Folic Acid Intake.
  • An Apple (or Pomegranate) a day keeps the Doctor Away! 
  • Drink Nettle Tea. 
  • Avoid Iron Blockers. 
  • Exercise.

Is a level of 9.5 hemoglobin low during pregnancy?

Sapna Kulkarni, Mumbai.

According to the World Health Organization, the hemoglobin levels in pregnant women should be more than 11g/dl in the first and third trimester, and more than 10.5g/dl in the second trimester.

What happens if hemoglobin is low during pregnancy?

Poonam Jha, Jamshedpur.

When iron levels are low, the red blood cells are unable to carry oxygen to the body's tissues. Although it is normal to experience mild anaemia during pregnancy due to increased blood volume, severe anaemia may put you and your baby at risk of premature delivery and low birth weight.

What foods are to be avoided if you have low hemoglobin?

Monisha Lamba, New Delhi.

Foods to avoid include:

  • Tea and coffee.
  • Milk and some dairy products.
  • Whole-grain cereals.
  • Foods that contain tannins, such as grapes, corn, and sorghum.
  • Foods rich in gluten, such as pasta and other products made with wheat, barley, rye, or oats.

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