Iron and Pregnancy: An important connection and personal story
Erin Stokes, Naturopathic Doctor, MegaFood Medical Director | April 2020
You may have heard about the importance of iron during pregnancy, but what does it actually do?
As a naturopath doctor, I am well aware that iron is a vital mineral with a crucial role. Most iron is found in hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells, whose job is to deliver oxygen from the lungs to our entire body! Without adequate iron stores, you simply can’t get enough oxygen delivered to all of your tissues. In pregnancy, your body needs extra iron to supply oxygen to the baby. In addition, blood volume is increasing throughout pregnancy, which also leads to an increased need for iron.
So, when I was pregnant (with our now 13-year-old, 5’9”(!) son), my medical doctor and I decided to keep a close eye on my iron stores, taking bloodwork each trimester. It’s normal (and important) to monitor iron during pregnancy, as low iron becomes even more common. In my case, I had the additional “watch out” of a history of low iron even before pregnancy.
I made a conscious effort to keep up my intake of iron-rich foods daily, and rotated in spinach, beans, dried apricots, chicken, turkey and beef. I also decided to try an iron supplement called MegaFood Blood Builder® throughout my entire pregnancy.
It is a unique formula that contains much more than iron. It’s made with nourishing, whole foods, like beets and organic oranges, plus folic acid and B12 for healthy red blood cell production, and vitamin C to support iron absorption.* One of the best aspects of Blood Builder iron supplement is that you can take it on an empty stomach.
I believe that the combination of eating iron-rich foods every day, and taking the right supplement helped me keep my iron levels in the normal range. And, even better than seeing those positive lab results, was the energy I had throughout pregnancy! Besides the first trimester, during which I was nauseous most days, I felt really strong and my energy was solid. When I felt queasy in those early days, I was beyond grateful for a gentle iron supplement that I could actually take! Ultimately, I truly felt good enough physically to work right up until my due date.
My son arrived six days after his due date. My doctor was starting to talk about the possible need for intervention since he was a big baby and only getting bigger! But then, on a crisp, sunny day in September, he arrived. That sounds so lovely and simple, right?
The reality was his delivery was a long and arduous natural childbirth. I was in labor when I arrived at the hospital and then continued for over 24 more hours. And through that process, I went from feeling stronger than I have ever felt in my life during labor, to be weaker than I have ever been afterward.
My postpartum labs showed that because the nature of intense labor and delivery included blood loss, my iron status was now critically low. I had some work to do to try to rebuild not only my iron stores, but my overall strength and vitality.
I was fortunate to have a strong support system, thanks to my husband and mom who helped me. In addition, I was continuing to take Blood Builder believing it would help me restore my iron levels now that I was so depleted. I was right!
When I went back to see the doctor for my 6-week postpartum visit, she was quite surprised and happy by how rapidly my low iron lab values had improved. And again, beyond the labs was the undeniable fact that my energy was lifting day by day, and the color had returned in my face. Although I had made the transformation to being a mom, I was starting to feel more and more like myself again.
So, fourteen years later, I still take Blood Builder regularly, and my iron levels remain normal. How serendipitous that I now work for MegaFood! This formula has been an ally in my life, and I hope my story will inspire other women. Looking back, I’m grateful that I knew about it at a time when I needed it most- during my pregnancy and postpartum weeks.
Interested in how we make products from real food, like Blood Builder? Learn more about our Process and Promise to you.
Check out Erin's related blog, 3 prenatal vitamins and supplements to support a healthy pregnancy.