Iron is a mineral needed to make hemoglobin. This protein in red blood cells carries oxygen to your organs, tissues, and your baby. Large amounts of iron are essential for your own increasing blood volume, and for your baby’s developing blood supply. Because it can be difficult to get the recommended amount of iron daily during pregnancy from diet along, your prenatal vitamin will contain 27-90 mg of this mineral. Your hemoglobin level will be checked early in pregnancy, and again at 26-28 weeks. If iron-deficiency anemia is present, you will need to supplement with an additional iron tablet.
You can increase your iron intake through your diet. Vitamin C will help your body absorb iron. Antacids, calcium, and caffeine, however, can block iron absorption, so avoid taking it with milk, tea, or coffee.
Primary sources of dietary iron are meats, eggs, vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals.
Other food sources of iron include:
- Almonds, cashews, walnuts
- Blackstrap molasses
- All-Bran cereal
- Cream of Wheat
- Beans: black, pinto, lima
- Prune juice
- Chex cereal
- Total cereal