Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Foods rich in iron

Posted on: January 6, 2009

In the past pregnant women were routinely prescribed an iron supplement; it is now recognised that many women do not require an iron supplement and that the best way to get iron is through a healthy diet.  Your midwife will offer you a blood test to check your iron stores during your pregnancy and it is actually normal for your haemoglobin (or iron) level to fall because you will have an increased amount of blood circulating as you grow bigger through the pregnancy and this causes a dilution of the haemoglobin levels.  It is also true that the growing baby will take what it needs and deplete you!  This said, it is obviously important to eat well, and to include iron rich foods in your diet to enable you to be in the best possible health to grow the baby, to give birth and to feed the baby afterwards.  I would also recommend that you consider increasing the amount of protein in your diet, try to eat protein several times a day.

If you are taking iron supplements and find that they don’t agree with you (they often cause either constipation or diarrhoea) do speak to your midwife or doctor as it is often possible to change to a different medication.  It is definitely better to get iron from your diet if you possibly can and although iron supplements can be useful for some women.

Foods rich in iron include:

– herbal tonic spa tone/floradix (consult pharmacist)
– red meat, steak and corned beef
– Legumes – lentils and butterbeans, harricot beans (baked beans) peas/beans)
– fish – salmon, kippers, pilchards, sardines
– cream and cottage cheese
– wholegrains – wheatgerm and oats and millet, bread and pasta, chapattis, oak cakes
– dried apricots, dates and figs, raisins, prunes, currents
– dark green leafy vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, sprouts, cooked nettle tops, dandelion leaves
– watercress and beansprouts
– dried peaches and prunes
– beetroot
– yeast/vecon extract
– soya flour
– breakfast cereals
– cane molasses (can stain teeth)
– chives/spring onions
– parsley
– nuts – especially almonds
– egg yolks
– Kelp/seaweed – use dried and add to stir fry, salads, or cook with rice
– Spiralina (health food shop – take advice
– fresh fruit, redcurrants, blackberries, loganberries, raspberries, cranberries

Limit use of dried fruits if have tendency to thrush.

NB Vitamin C taken at the same time (e.g. glass of orange juice will aid absorption, whilst bran, coffee and tea decrease absorption)
Vitamin C is found in: Fruit and vegetables, especially kiwi, oranges, rosehips, potatoes, broccoli, sprouts and cauliflower
Cooking – always try to steam vegetables and use vegetable water for soups, sauces or hot savoury drinks. Use cast iron pots and pans if you have any.

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