Postpartum Anemia: Effects, Causes and 10 Dealing Ways

Every woman looks forward to enjoying motherhood once her little one is born. Unfortunately, this is not the case for every new mother. Some experience constant tiredness or feel low and irritable. These are classic symptoms of postpartum anemia, a condition caused by the deficiency of iron after delivery. The effects of this condition can be overwhelming on a mother. She has to contend with sleepless nights, feeding her baby and regaining her health. How then, can she cope with postpartum anemia?

How Does Postpartum Anemia Affect the Mother and Baby?

Women who have given birth recently have to deal with the risk of postpartum anemia, effects of which can last for up to a year. Below are some of the most common symptoms of this condition:

  • Recurring headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Feeling low, sad or depressed
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Feeling dizzy or light headed
  • Shortness of breath
  • Inability to keep up with normal chores especially domestic chores
  • Pale skin
  • Low sex drive

In case your doctor has diagnosed you with postpartum anemia, be wary of the health risk posed by the condition. There are other health risks that rise due to the condition, including postpartum depression and urinary tract infection (UTI).

Does Postpartum Anemia in Mothers Adversely Affect the Health of Infants?

The severe iron deficiency can adversely affect the child as well. Infants can get affected in the following ways:

  • The baby will not get a healthy dose of breast milk from the mother with iron deficiency.
  • It can pose a risk of transferred anemia from mother to child.
  • It can pose a risk of neuro-cognitive dysfunction in children. This can adversely affect the child’s ability to learn, memorize, and also impair their cognitive skills.

What Causes Postpartum Anemia?

Research has found that women who were not taking their iron supplements during pregnancy were more likely to suffer from iron deficiency during the first week after pregnancy, especially if they had a normal delivery. A caesarean section, hypertension, and huge blood loss during pregnancy are also likely to cause postpartum anemia.

There are factors that would increase the risk of iron deficiency after birth. They include:

  • Poor diet. Even when not pregnant, a woman needs at least a milligram of iron per day. The best way is to eat iron-rich foods such as the liver. A poor diet can lead to iron deficiency which can cause postpartum deficiency in the long run. After delivery, increase your intake of iron-rich foods.
  • Multiple births. Blood-loss during childbirth increases with a higher number of deliveries. In addition, the more children delivered at once, the higher the risk of postpartum anemia.
  • Impaired ability to absorb iron. There are women who, due to pre-existing conditions such as Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Celiac disease, are unable to absorb iron properly. This situation leads to an increased risk of getting iron deficiency after birth.

How to Deal with the Postpartum Anemia

1.     Focus on Your Diet

The best long-term solution for treating postpartum anemia is to eat foods that are rich in iron. Animal protein such as red meat, poultry and fish are the best sources. Legumes such as beans are also rich sources of iron. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and amaranth are excellent sources of iron.

2.     Supplements

If your iron levels are super low, your doctor will recommend that you boost your diet within iron supplements. These supplements can be taken in form of capsules, fluids or chewable tablets. You may need to take 2-3 tablets per day, depending on your needs and doctor’s recommendation. When shopping for iron supplements, go for slow release, non-constipating brands.

3.     Go for Checkup

Make sure you go for regular checkups to ascertain whether the supplements are working or you need to change the brand. Your caregiver may also monitor your diet to ensure that you are getting the recommended dose of iron. If your anemia continues to worsen, further measures will be taken. These include IV drip, injection, or blood transfusion.

4.     Cut Down on Coffee and Tea

These contain a substance called tannin which reduces the absorption of iron into your blood stream. Too much calcium in your blood stream will also slow down the absorption of iron. Because of this, it is advisable that you cut down on your intake, especially in between iron supplement dosages.

5.     Take a Break

This simply means that you should get adequate rest. Taking care of a newborn and at the same time focusing on healing can be a lot to do. Let your partner help you with the child and house chores. Ensure that family and friends are always around to help with the baby so that you can get the much needed rest.

6.     Watch Out for Postpartum Depression

Research has linked postpartum anemia with postpartum depression. If you start to get feelings of depression and low moods, you may need to talk to your doctor. Postpartum iron deficiency causes the baby to receive a low supply of milk, hence need for more feeds and causes you to have fatigue in the process. The situation can overwhelm you.

7.     Try Natural Solutions

If you are not into synthetic medication for iron supplements, then blackstrap molasses can be a great alternative. It is rich in iron and suitable for people living with diabetes. It is also good for vegetarians who wish to avoid animal fillers.

8.     Boost with Vitamin C

Vitamin C boosts the absorption of iron tremendously. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerine are great.

9.     Increase Your Water Intake

Drink plenty of water to help you rehydrate as well as increase your circulation after giving birth. This also helps in preventing the development of blood clots. Water also energizes you as well as reduces the risk of UTIs which are more common in postpartum anemia.

10.  Be Wary of Infections

A deficiency of iron in the blood means a compromised immune system. This means that you are vulnerable to catching bacterial infections. Be on the lookout for symptoms of an infection such as fever and shivers and contact your doctor early enough so that the infection can be combated before it becomes serious or even fatal.

 
 
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