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More than 50% of pregnant women in Nigeria experience anemia during pregnancy. Every organ in the expectant mother changes in response to pregnancy in a different way. These changes are naturally guided to accommodate fetal growth and development.

During pregnancy, amount of “water” in your body increases to allow adequate blood supply to the placenta and fetus (baby that you are carrying in your womb), and to anticipate blood loss associated with delivery. The rapid expansion of blood volume (fluid in which blood cells are suspended) begins at 6-8 weeks of pregnancy and plateaus at 32-34 weeks gestation. This increase in blood volume account for 8 to 10kg of the average maternal weight gain during pregnancy.

Overall, total body water increases from 6.5 to 8.5litres by the end of pregnancy. Meanwhile the red blood cells only increase by 280ml; this shows that total body water increases 7 times more than red blood cells. This causes dilution of blood cells causing physiological anaemia.

Normal pregnancy heamatocrit or packed cell volume (PCV) is approximately 32-34 per cent.

Sometimes, anaemia associated with pregnancy is commonly due to iron deficiency anaemia. Pregnant women require increased amounts of iron. Absorption of dietary iron from the intestine is increased because iron has to be transferred to the fetus contributing to anaemia in pregnant women. Women who do not take supplementary iron during pregnancy show a reduction in iron in their body.

It is therefore important that pregnant women take routine antenatal drug in pregnancy in order to compensate for this physiologic loss of iron causing anaemia in them. It also important for pregnant women to be eating food rich in iron like okro, green leafy vegetables, meat, fish, whole grain cereal etc.

Sign and symptoms of anaemia in pregnancy include: weakness, tiredness, dizziness, pale palm, lips and eyes, shortness of breath, cold hand and feet etc. If you are noticing any of these signs and symptoms repeatedly, see your doctor PLEASE.