There are many physiological changes that occur to support the growing baby during pregnancy. For example, a pregnant woman’s blood volume increases by up to 50% but red blood cells only increase by around 30% This leads to a natural haemodilution more than any other time in the lifespan of a human.
Overall there is a 2-3 fold increase in iron requirements and inadequate iron levels affect a huge number of women, up to 40% of pregnant women, which equates to almost a quarter of a million women every year in the U.K alone.
It can be difficult to get enough iron from food alone and it’s estimated that between 24% – 50% of women already have inadequate levels at their booking appointment – the first appointment they have with a midwife. Whilst we can get iron from food, it may not be absorbed well or be sufficient to meet the increased requirement for iron during pregnancy. Once you develop inadequate iron levels during pregnancy, diet alone can’t increase levels enough. In this case, iron supplementation is recommended.