Persephone: Parent

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66 Days Encounting: Dietary Changes Needed

on March 3, 2013

After my last post, I noticed, but kinda ignored an extreme tiredness simply putting it down to being pregnant and all.

Until I got a call from my doctor’s receptionist saying that my blood tests were back and I have slight anaemia, that there was a prescription for me and that I needed to collect it. Okay, I thought, that’s all normal. A lot of pregnant women become slightly anaemic in their pregnancy. Especially in the middle-later parts. I was fine with this.

Until I started thinking a tad too much.

Was it my fault?

Is my diet that horrendously bad?

Am I already an awful mother?

It’s not easy to have a balanced diet at the best of times. Day after day there’s another news story or health scare about what people should and shouldn’t eat. You shouldn’t drink alcohol. But red wine’s good for your heart. You shouldn’t eat ready meals, but they have less salt than store-made sandwiches. You can’t win 100% on everything. And that’s for a normal diet, let alone a pregnant one.

Take this anaemia thing. Anaemia is essentially from a lack of iron in your diet. It causes a decrease in haemoglobin and therefore in your red blood cells. You don’t have enough red cells to carry oxygen around your body and can therefore feel faint, dizzy, light-headed. It can happen to anyone who doesn’t eat enough iron rich foods, but is far more common in pregnant women because their baby is “stealing” their iron and their blood volume increases over the pregnancy. If your blood volume increases, but you don’t have enough iron, that blood volume won’t contain enough red cells and it’ll be mainly water.

So the “cure” is to eat more iron, which is commonly found in fortified cereals, red meat, nuts, pulses, green leafy veg, eggs, etc. Okay, well too much red meat is bad for you, but the rest should be fine for most people. And pregnant women should try for two portions a day. So cereal for breakfast and then meat/pulses and broccoli for tea. Sorted, yes?

No, because that’s where you get the usual dietary problems of good and bad qualities. Iron absorption is aided by Vitamin C (fruits, fruit juices, tomatoes) and like any vitamin/mineral only a certain amount can be stored at any one point, and absorption is better from food than tablet. Okay, so cereal and a glass of Orange Juice for breakfast is perfect then?

No.

Because whilst Vitamin C helps iron absorption, calcium prevents it. Just as caffeine inhibits calcium absorption (so forget that morning cup of tea with cereal), calcium inhibits iron absorption. So that bowl of cereal with milk on it… Are you absorbing all of the iron? Should you be eating dry cereal?

Is that why I’m anaemic? I’ve consciously increased my calcium intake to protect my bones, has it decreased my iron absorption?

As I said, nothing in diets is that simple whatsoever. It’s all about trying to maintain a balance and hoping to some extent that some of the good you’re doing is prevailing.

I’m taking my iron tablets (so far without the side effect of heartburn because my hormones give me plenty of that!) and I’m consciously avoiding milk at meal times (but drinking it other times) whilst also increasing my broccoli intake. I’m also off to make myself some healthy muffins and flapjacks with pecans and raisins in; both a source of iron and perfect for me to nibble during the day.

A small part of me still wonders if it’s all my fault and that I should have been clever enough to not get slightly anaemic, but I know it isn’t true and that I am doing my best.

Now with added muffiny goodness!

~ Persephone M

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One response to “66 Days Encounting: Dietary Changes Needed

  1. morasmum says:

    It is not your fault! and stop analyzing things!!!!!!!!!!!

    just take your tablets and keep eating 🙂

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