Half of pregnant women develop iron-deficiency anemia, reports the MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Anemia during pregnancy can cause problems, such as low-birth weight, reduced amniotic fluid and premature delivery. Because many of the symptoms of anemia also mimic symptoms of pregnancy, it can prove difficult to identify. Small differences in the symptoms, however, will help you identify whether you have anemia.
Weakness and fatigue both commonly occur with anemia. Lack of an adequate amount of hemoglobin causes the fatigue. Hemoglobin carries oxygen in the blood to all parts of the body. Lower levels of oxygen also cause a reduced body temperature, particularly noticeable in the extremities. Talk to your doctor if you have cold hands or feet.
Low amounts of circulating oxygen also can cause headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath. All of these symptoms signal low iron in the blood. While these symptoms can occur due to pregnancy, you should have tests done to check for anemia if you experience any of them.
Nails and Skin
Your nails can indicate health problems. Anemic individuals often have brittle nails with ridges, along with pale nail beds. Your skin and gums will likely appear paler as well. People might even comment about how you look tired, sick or pale. Discuss any changes in your nails and skin–especially during pregnancy–with your health care provider.
Unusual food cravings, called pica, occur naturally during pregnancy. Iron-deficiency anemia can also cause these cravings. If the cravings focus on non-food items, such as dirt and paint, it could mean you have anemia.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath occurs during late pregnancy due to the lack of room for lung expansion. If you experience it, however, it could also indicate a low level of iron. You may also develop chest pain and an irregular heartbeat. Report any of these symptoms immediately.
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