3.2.3 Preventing anaemia in pregnancy
Some women feel weak and tired when pregnant. They may be anaemic, which in turn means that they may have difficulty in pregnancy and childbirth. Common problems linked to the mother’s anaemia include:
- Babies will be born without three to six months iron supply
- Breastmilk may have insufficient iron.
A pregnant or breastfeeding mother should have enough iron to keep herself and her baby healthy. She should eat plenty of iron-rich foods every day such as dried beans, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, liver, kidney and heart.
A pregnant mother should go for her first antenatal care visit at the latest by the fourth month of her pregnancy. At the clinic, check her urine for excess sugar and proteins, and her blood for malaria (if she is showing signs of infection).
You diagnose anaemia in the following way:
Examine the lower eyelids, the inside of the lips and the palms which should be bright pink; if there is anaemia, all of these will be pale whitish.
- Give the mother iron tablets or tablets with iron and folate to build strong blood
- Remind the mother to take the tablets after a main meal. She should not take iron tablets with tea, coffee or milk
- If the iron tablets upset the mother or cause side effects, she should not stop taking iron, but eat more leafy vegetables.