Studies show that 50 per cent of pregnant women do not have enough iron in their body. The iron demands during pregnancy and breast feeding are particularly evident due to the expanded red blood cell volume, demands of the developing baby and placenta and blood loss around the time of delivery.

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron for women aged 19 to 50 years is 18mg per day.  For pregnant women, this RDI increases to 27mg per day; whilst for breastfeeding women, the RDI decreases to 9mg. This is thought to be due to the fact that the lactating mother cannot increase the iron levels in her milk by eating iron rich foods or taking supplements. Also menstruation does not normally resume until after 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding.

What is the role of iron in the body?

Iron is found in haemoglobin, a substance in the red blood cells that carries oxygen in the body.

Your body makes more blood when you are pregnant due to the demand from baby. It needs iron to make healthy blood.

A blood test that looks at haemoglobin (Hb) level is usually offered at the first antenatal visit and again at 26-28 weeks’ gestation.

Having low iron levels may result in anaemia. Any anaemia should be investigated and treated. Low iron will make you feel tired, have poor concentration and an increased risk of infection. Very low iron levels may cause low birth weight of the baby.

Iron in food

There are two forms of dietary iron: Iron from animal foods (called haem iron) and iron from plant foods (called non-haem iron). Haem iron is absorbed 10 times better than non-haem iron. It is found in animal foods that originally contained haemoglobin such as red meats, fish and poultry. Red meats are the best source of iron; the redder the meat, the higher the contents of iron.

This means beef, kangaroo and lamb are higher in iron than pork, chicken or fish. Red fleshed fish, such as tuna and salmon, are higher in iron than white fleshed fish.

Most non-haem iron is from plant sources:

  • Wholegrain, iron-enriched breads and cereal foods.
  • legumes (such as lentils, beans, chickpeas) and nuts
  • green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli)

Our bodies are less efficient at absorbing non-haem iron than haem iron from animal foods. You will need to eat more of these foods if they are your only iron source.

To help your body absorb more iron from plant foods, eat it along with foods that have a high vitamin C content (fruits and vegetables).

For a detailed look at animal and plant-based iron-rich foods, head to the Nutrition Australia website:

How can I improve my iron intake?

While some foods can help our bodies absorb iron, others can prevent it. Tea, coffee, unprocessed bran and various mineral, herbal and other medications can block iron being taken up by the body.

Routine iron supplementation is not recommended in every pregnancy. Iron supplementation will generally be recommended for women at particular risk of iron deficiency. This includes when a blood test has confirmed that your levels are low, vegetarians or women with a multiple pregnancy.

Women with iron deficiency anaemia will need additional iron supplementation, containing at least 60mg of iron daily.

Women commonly experience constipation from taking iron tablets. You can manage constipation naturally by:

  • eating more fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes
  • drinking more water
  • remaining physically active

For more information on the recommended daily intake for iron requirement in pregnancy, head to the National Health and Medical Research Council – Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand website:

Ways to improve your diet for adequate iron intake:

  • Check that you are regularly eating animal sources of iron — the redder the better.
  • Include wholegrain and iron fortified foods (e.g. cereals or wholemeal toast).
  • Include vitamin C containing foods at meals (e.g. orange juice).
  • Check to make sure you limit the iron blockers.
  • Talk to your GP, midwife or obstetrician about taking iron tablets.

What to do if your iron levels are still low:

You should talk to your doctors or midwife to have your Haemoglobin (Hb) level checked during antenatal visit and any anaemia should be investigated and treated. Your doctor should consider iron studies if the haemoglobin is 105 g/L or less or red blood cells are microcytic (small); B12/folate levels if the red blood cells are macrocytic (big). Testing for Thalassaemia (haemoglobin electrophoresis) should also be considered where appropriate.


SSCP   CAS-002   9L0-066   350-050   642-999   220-801   74-678   642-732   400-051   ICGB   c2010-652   70-413   101-400   220-902   350-080   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   HP0-S42   1Z0-061   000-105   70-486   70-177   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   VCP550   70-532   200-101   000-080   PR000041   2V0-621   70-411   352-001   70-480   70-461   ICBB   000-089   70-410   350-029   1Z0-060   2V0-620   210-065   70-463   70-483   CRISC   MB6-703   1z0-808   220-802   ITILFND   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   210-060   101   200-310   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803   350-001   400-201   9L0-012   70-488   JN0-102   640-916   70-270   100-101   MB5-705   JK0-022   350-060   300-320   1z0-434   350-018   400-101   350-030   000-106   ADM-201   300-135   300-208   EX200   PMP   NSE4   1Z0-051   c2010-657   C_TFIN52_66   300-115   70-417   9A0-385   70-243   300-075   70-487   NS0-157   MB2-707   70-533   CAP   OG0-093   M70-101   300-070   102-400   JN0-360   SY0-401   000-017   300-206   CCA-500   70-412   2V0-621D   70-178   810-403   70-462   OG0-091   1V0-601   200-355   000-104   700-501   70-346   CISSP   300-101   1Y0-201   300-101 test   JK0-022 test   1Z0-144 Brain dumps   , c2010-652 pdf  , ITILFND Study Guides   , 352-001   C_TFIN52_66 test   000-106 exam   , 74-678 test   350-001 dumps   , 000-089 test   EX200 test   , 101-400 pdf  , HP0-S42 Study Guides   , ITILFND dumps   , 70-243   , 300-115 exam   , 2V0-620 Exam   350-001 dumps   , 000-104 dumps   , 000-106 test   , 1Z0-804 pdf  , NS0-157 test   500-260 Exam   , 9A0-385 dumps   , EX200   700-501 Study Guides   , 200-310 Exam   , 1z0-434 pdf   , 300-115 certification   , LX0-104 pdf   , 1Z0-803 exam   , 300-075 Brain dumps   , 300-320 test   350-060 pdf   , 400-101 certification   , ICBB dumps   , 000-105 test   , LX0-104 exam   , 2V0-621 exam   , 70-270 certification   , ICBB   000-080 Exams   , 350-018 Exam   400-201 certification   , 9L0-066 test   400-201 certification   , PMP test   , 300-101 test   , 350-060 exam   , MB2-704 certification   , c2010-652 exam   , CAS-002   1Z0-804 Study Guides   , 300-135   70-462 test   , VCP550 test   300-070 test   400-101 test   , PMP pdf   ,