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Pregnancy Anaemia - more than 'just' pregnancy fatigue.....

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

24 weeks with pregnancy anaemia
24 weeks pregnant with no.3

Being pregnant with number three – it’s fair to say this ‘aint my first pregnancy rodeo!

I know what’s in store for me – including expanding ribs, lightning crotch (yep – one of the lucky ones here!), spider veins, random hairs growing in weird places, and of course, some pregnancy fatigue.

But with both Zac & Isla, I did have a time when I reached the second trimester and literally felt like jumping on the bed ‘Tom Cruise’ style & celebrating feeling absolutely bloody ah-mazing!!

You’ve probably heard to expect a second wave of energy in the second trimester and a few months (at least) of feeling great in your pregnancy??

Well, I feel completely jipped!!! I have been totally hanging out for this….and instead I’ve found myself needing more naps (I’ve lost count of the times I’ve ‘rested my eyes’ when on the lounge to be woken by a loud little face in mine!), unable to concentrate, driving on autopilot and just generally feeling low. And I mean reeeeaaaallly low.

I went to see my GP when I was first coming into my second tri & knowing that something wasn’t right.

It would have been so easy to pass this fatigue off as a result of, well, life…. I mean, after all I have two mini-humans with boundless energy to look after, we’ve just sold our house & moved interstate – away from our support network, hubby is working ridiculous hours with long travel times since moving, and of course I am growing a third mini-human at the moment on top of it all.

But this level of fatigue, and the low mood associated with it – I felt that this is more than ‘just pregnancy’ fatigue.

I had some blood tests including full iron studies, thyroid screening, B9 & B12. The results showed anaemia – and I was promptly taking 100mg elemental iron per day.

Did you know that’s it’s estimated that approximately 25% of pregnant women suffer from anaemia?

6 weeks later – I still felt awful. In fact, I would say I felt worse! So, I was sent for another round of tests….and I was hoping so badly that the tests would find something! I was feeling desperate, and I knew if the tests didn’t show something, I would be told there was nothing to be done. Do you know the thought of feeling this way for the rest of my pregnancy (another 18 weeks or so at the time) just had me feeling so desperate, anxious & depressed?! I was actually pleased to find the tests show my anaemia wasn’t improving, despite the high dose supplementation. It meant there was something that could be done!

Iron deficiency anaemia can cause cardiac failure in the mother, increase the incidence of illness & reduce tolerance of blood loss associated with birth. It can also affect neurological development in your baby, increase the risk of premature birth & low birth weight in your baby.

Now, I’m not entirely sure why my iron levels weren’t improving. Granted, with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, there were a couple of months at the start of my pregnancy that I could barely keep food down. Of course, my intake of not just iron, but also the co-factors for both iron absorption & energy production, was less than optimal. My intake of anything but watermelon and buttered toast would have been less than optimal!!

But for about the past 2 months I had been trying to eat red meat at least once a week (definitely easier if it was prepared by someone else and I didn’t have to smell it cooking!). I’ve also included a much wider variety of plant sources of iron now that my appetite is back.

So – why my levels haven’t been improving is still a bit of a mystery, though genetics definitely play a role here. Low iron despite an iron rich diet has been an issue of mine my whole adult life.

As a result of all this, I was referred for an iron infusion. Is it weird that I was actually excited for this? I mean, the promise of feeling human again – hallelujah!!

I had my first one two weeks ago, and I first started to notice I was feeling better late last week (it can take up to 2 weeks to feel the effects of an iron infusion). Granted, I’m still pretty tired by the end of the day & not interested in running any half marathons, but I can sit on the lounge without falling asleep. I want to work out. I can even make it to do the grocery shopping without wanting to curl up in the foetal position & rest in the toilet paper aisle!

My next one is booked in for 5 weeks time – maybe I’ll be Tom Cruise jumping after that one?

I’d love to know your experiences of anaemia and whether it was rectified by supplementation, dietary change or an infusion? And how are you feeling now?

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