Q&A: What are the complications associated with low iron during delivery?


A reader asks:

I’m 34 weeks and three days pregnant. I have an hb of 11.1g/dl. The nurse told me I still don’t have enough blood for me and the baby. She said my hb must be above 12g/dl. So I want to know what must I eat or take in order to increase my iron levels. I want something that will give me better results in a short space of time because I really don’t want a blood transfusion during delivery. Is oxtail liver recommended for pregnant women? Also, what are the complications associated with low iron during delivery?

Dr Bronwyn Moore (gynaecologist) answers:

Anaemia in pregnancy is defined as a haemoglobin (Hb) of < 11g/dL by the World Health Organisastion (WHO). The values given on lab reports are usually for non-pregnant patients. In pregnancy there is a physiological anaemia due to a greater increase in plasma volume than red cell mass, meaning your Hb is a bit lower. Your Hb levels aren’t something for you to worry too much about.

Iron demands are increased in pregnancy so moms are advised to take a vitamin supplement containing iron during pregnancy. This contains enough iron to maintain iron levels, but if you areanaemic then a higher dose is necessary. In patients with signi cant anaemia close to delivery an iron drip can help get a rapid response, but due to side effects should only be used if necessary.

A balanced diet will help to provide your body with the vitamins and minerals needed. Foods rich in iron include red meat, liver, eggs, dark green leafy veg, raisins and prunes and legumes. Any mom can have excessive blood loss after delivery (post-partum haemmorrhage) and there are specific practices in place to try and prevent this. However it can still occur and may necessitate transfusion.

We try to limit transfusions and generally will only transfuse if your Hb drops to below 7-8g/dL. The higher your Hb is going into labour, the more unlikely it is you will need to be transfused. I suggest you take your pregnancy supplements, and eat a balanced diet.

Read more:

Do you have a question about your pregnancy health that you'd like an expert's feedback on? Email to problems@yourpregnancy.co.za and we may publish your question along with advice from a specialist. 

Please note that we cannot supply personalised advice.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
A Section 89 panel headed by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo found President Cyril Ramaphosa has an impeachable case to answer on the Phala Phala scandal.
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Ramaphosa should do the honourable thing and immediately resign.
22% - 1795 votes
Ramaphosa should follow due process and submit himself to an impeachment hearing.
30% - 2390 votes
Ramaphosa should fight the findings in court and keep his job at all costs
48% - 3828 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.