45 answers

Low Iron

Hi Moms,
The doctor told me today I have low iron. I tested 9.9 and should be at least an 11. Just wondering if I should be taking an iron supplement along with my prenatal vitamin. Doctor just said I need more iron and now I'm not sure if I should be getting it from my diet or a pill. I am scheduled for a c-section in 4 weeks and am worried about having to get a blood transfusion because of my low iron levels!! Any advice would be appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Eat Prunes! Prunes are not only loaded with iron, they will keep you regular and "emptied" sufficiently which will make delivery, no matter what the method, a lot easier.

Hi M., I had low iron when I was pregnant, too. My doc just had me start taking an iron supplement. Just something over-the-counter was fine and it worked. Nothing to worry about!!

Hello M.,
when I was pregnant a few months ago my dr. prescribed pre-natal vitamins with added iron, b/c I was a bit anemic. Seems to me that you should get an iron supplement. You can ask for a prescription for it or just get it over the counter; whatever is more cost-efficient for you. One thing to keep in mind is that too much iron is constipating, so don't over do it. You won't be able to make up for not having enough before, so just take the recommended daily dose. Good luck with the birth. You're a brave woman to have 3!

More Answers

I had low Iron after I had surgery. I went to the Medicine Shop in Concord and picked up Iron Complete and they recomended that I take it with Vit C as it helps your body absorb the iron better. You may also want to start eating foods high in iron like beets, greens, liver....you know good stuff.
Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,
I always have low iron. Have you ever take an iron suppliment before? During my pregnancies I was advised to take iron suppliments and I became very constipated. Not fun. So I tried to get my iron from food. Spinach was my favorite I ate it A LOT. (Try steaming it in chicken broth, you can add a little bit of shredded carrots and mushrooms if you like and then serve it with some chopped scallions on top as a soup. My kids LOVE it!) Also cooking with an iron skillet will add to your iron consumption. You can saute chicken and veggies and that will help you. In 4 weeks time, if you concentrate on getting some iron in every meal you shouldn't have any trouble. You may want to check on something like Ensure. If you don't think you are getting enough iron from your diet you really don't have much choice but to take the suppliments.
Good luck to you!

I would've said be careful taking an iron pill, but since you're so close to delivery.........it could make you constipated. Thats never pleasant, especially this preg! Did you ask your doctor? Look for foods high in iron, have you searched the net? Good luck & congrats on your new baby!

Hi M.
I also had low iron during my pregnancy with my son. I would check with your doctor before taking a supplement. Too much iron can cause constipation. You should be able to eat food items containing iron, spinach, red meat etc. You shouldn't need a transfusion for just low iron, if there was a problem with platelets and cells then possibly.

Taking an over the counter iron pill is not a good way to rapidly increase your iron. They are not readily absorbed, and they will really do a number on your digestion when pregnant if you take a lot. Try a whole foods approach. I know many people have tried the liquid supplement called Floradix iron+ herbs. You can find it at Whole Foods. It tastes kinda bad, but will really boost your iron quickly. Also get lots of leafy greens in your diet. If you do not like the taste try hiding them in smoothies. One good combination is 1 lb. of fresh spinach (I like baby spinach) blended with 2 cups of any fruit ( I usually just throw in an entire bag of Trader Joe's frozen pineapple) and a whole banana. I add liquid as required. Usually apple juice or almond milk. DO not use cow's milk or any other calcium source. It blocks absorbtion of the iron. hope that helps. Good luck with your surgery.

Hi M.,

I noticed that you have received quite a few answers to your question. I am a certified nutritional counselor and hope that the information you are getting is correct. I would like to give you a link to the National Institute of Health website that will tell you everything you need to know about iron. Personally I feel that your levels can be increased by eating the appropriate foods. Please feel free to email me anytime you have nutrition questions. Here is the link: http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/iron.a...

Good Luck and Blessings,

M. P.

M., I have had low iron issues my entire life, and was put on a supplement for both of my pregnancies. My doctor recommended trying Slow FE first, as it doesn't cause constipation as much as regular iron. It worked for the first pregnancy, but for the second it didn't supplement enough, so I took a regular iron supplement with a stool softener at bedtime to help with constipation.

Whatever you do, be sure to drink plenty of water and eat high fiber foods to help with regular BM.

There is a supplement I just found out about called Floradix, it an liquid iron supplement, non-constipating. I found it at a store called Debra's Natural Gourmet in West Concord. The have it at Whole Foods and other places too.
The people in there are really fantastic and they help even a skeptic of Homeopathic medicine and vitamins believe. I am now sold on the all of the remedies and products. My son was recentlydiagnosed with PDD-NOS and has seizures every 10 secounds. So you can image how out of wak his body is. They have really helped him and me get through some tough battles already. He recently had a possible cold sore or impatigo - the doctors weren't exactly sure. I went and got Calendula Cream and in 24 hours it is already healing. I think the Floradix can really help. But there are some foods that will keep iron in your blood better.
Good luck with number 3!

You can also eat dried appricots if you don't want to supplement. A few a day will do wonders, at told to me by my midwife, and helps w BM too. I lost alot of blood during my birthing and was low like you and had to take a supplement, but not when I was pregnant. I just ate things high in iron.

Hi M., I had low iron when I was pregnant, too. My doc just had me start taking an iron supplement. Just something over-the-counter was fine and it worked. Nothing to worry about!!

Hi M., If I were you I would get clarification from your doc as to what he/she wants you to do about the low iron. I too had low iron during my pregnancy (6.5-7.5) and my doc advised me to take iron supplements along with my prenatals. I am anemic so my regular blood count is between 7.5 and 10 depending on whether I eat well etc. There was a big chance that I was going to have a c-section because I had placenta previa, but my doctor didn't mention anything about any transfusion possibilities. Get clarification and relax for the next month - you'll need your energy then. Good luck - J.

Hi M.,
I had low iron when I was pregnant with my son and my doctor told me to take an iron supplement. I took Slo-FE. You can buy it at the drugstore. I took one in the morning and one at night and had no constipation issues. Make sure you do something because low iron is really bad to have when you go in for delivery!!

Good Morning M. L,
Please, please call your doctor's office and ask his staff what the doctor usually recommends. They will most likely pass it by him/her. In my day, I took prenatal vits. and iron pills, but........ Please never take the advice of your pear group on medical issues, but rather call your physician or mid-wife. It's generally best to hear all sides, but it's your doctor you should be listening to. He knows your personnel story and what will be best for your situation.

A bit about me:
I'm a retired labor/delivery Doula, a Mom and new Grammy to an almost 2 yr. old.

Congratulations in advance, Mommy :)
B. Ann

Hi M.,
I am pregnant with my first child & I am anemic. I make sure that I eat foods rich in iron (Beef, raisins, oatmeal, etc.), cook in an iron skillet & I take a Liquid Iron Supplement every morning, I have never swallowed a pill in my life. I take Floradix, you can purchase @ any health food store, Cornucopia or Whole Foods & it has a pleasant taste. You will also notice once you start taking more iron rich foods & supplements, you will also crave more vitamin c, it helps absorb the iron, so I always use orange juice as a chaser after the Floradix.

Good Luck!

I recommend stinging nettle (urtica dioica) infusion, made by putting a handful of the dried herb into a quart canning jar and pouring on boiling water to fill the jar, then screwing on the lid and leaving it 3 hours to overnight. Then, strain it and squeeze out the herbs to get every last drop and drink. That will be a multi-mineral supplement, and full of protein and vitamins as well as lots of iron, calcium, magnesium, etc. In addition, or instead, you could eat lots of seaweed!

I think you should just eat more with iron. Taking iron supplments can make you constipated. After the c-sec make sure they test you or put you on an iron pill.

Hello M.,
when I was pregnant a few months ago my dr. prescribed pre-natal vitamins with added iron, b/c I was a bit anemic. Seems to me that you should get an iron supplement. You can ask for a prescription for it or just get it over the counter; whatever is more cost-efficient for you. One thing to keep in mind is that too much iron is constipating, so don't over do it. You won't be able to make up for not having enough before, so just take the recommended daily dose. Good luck with the birth. You're a brave woman to have 3!

Yes, yes, yes, take the iron supplements. They will help the baby and you. Low iron levels can lead to a slower recovery after childbirth and more fatigue in the last months of your pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins usually do not contain iron and since your blood volume is about 50% higher than it is during non-pregnancy, you need the iron to help support your body. I ended up taking supplements during both of my pregnancies (twice a day during the 2nd pregnancy!) and noticed a difference in my fatigue level when my iron levels were corrected. One word of warning--you will probably want to increase your fiber level as the increased iron can lead to problems in the bathroom :)

I would try increasing iron through your diet before taking supplements. You can try eating more iron rich foods and have your iron retested. There are a lot of iron rich foods. Here is a list.

beans, including kidney, lima, navy, black, pinto, soy beans, and lentils
greens, including collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and turnip greens
vegetables, including broccoli, swiss chard, asparagus, parsley, watercress, brussel sprouts
blackstrap molasses
egg yolks
dried fruits, such as raisins, prunes, dates and apricots

If you eat meat:
lean red meats, including beef, pork, lamb
seafood, such as oysters, clams, tuna, salmon, and shrimp, etc.
chicken and turkey

Good luck to you!


I am surprised that your doctor didn't advise you on this. I would at least start with incresing iron rich foods to my diet. I found that iron supplements greatly increased my constipation in pregnancy. Also, I had low iron in my other pregnancies and this time around Ihave only used food based prenatal vitamins and have not had any trouble. I also find them easier to digest and helpful with those pesky digestive issues like constipation and nausea
· clams, cooked, 3 oz (23.8 mg)
· tofu, 1/2 cup firm (13.2 mg)
· raisin bran, ready-to-eat, 3/4 cup (4.5 mg)
· sirloin steak, cooked, 3 oz (2.9 mg)
· shrimp, cooked, 3 oz (2.6 mg)
· black beans, boiled, 1/2 cup (1.8 mg)
· chickpeas, canned, 1/2 cup (1.6 mg)
· turkey breast, 3 oz (0.9 mg)
· bread, whole wheat, 1 slice (0.9 mg)
· chicken breast, skinless, 1/2 breast (0.9 mg)

Congrats on your twins!!! I am due March 10th :) best of luck to you!

Hi M.....As a part-time nurse and mother of three, all of whom were born via c-section, don't get too concerned. Many of us run a bit low on iron despite supplements and chances of you recieving a transfusion are slim. There are guidelines that doctors and labs follow when transfusing a patient and while indeed you may be a bit anemic now and after your baby's birth, so long as you eat healthy and continue a mulitvitamin with iron, you should recover just fine. My advice is get some rest now while you can..tough with two little ones!
All the Best,

Iron supplements in pill form can B. difficult. I would suggest a liquid supplement in addition to eating more iron rich foods (green veggies, molasses. . ) I took Floradix (available at Whole Foods) after my ds was born because I was feeling run down (I'm sure my iron was low). It seemed to really help.

It is always best to "eat" your iron to insure that it is absorbed. A lot of supplements cause constipation, which being 4wks out from delivering, wouldn't be fun! So, here is a link to FDA and the top 999 foods that are high in iron. Bookmark the link for future use to look up all kinds of interesting facts.

Health food store.. Black Strap Molasses, 1 Tablespoon in am .1 in pm.

When in doubt pester your physician!!!! I know sometimes we don't like to bother them but that is what they are there for. I've been anemic since pretty much my whole life. Because you're iron is not extremly low i'd consider adding it to your diet instead of taking a supplement. Prenatal pills already have iron in them and because it is so easy for a child to have an accidental overdose on iron I would be cautious taking more than recommended by your physician.

If your iron gets dangerously low before your scheduled c-section them may recommend that you have something called an iron infusion... but thats worse case senerio... anyway start checking out some iron enriched foods it might give you the boost you need!

One of my kids was a little low on iron. A useful and not too difficult thing to do that I learned was that Vitamin C increases iron absorbtion. Also, red meat is really the source of iron that is easiest for your body to use. So a little orange juice with the steak, or strawberries for dessert, or other such enjoyable things might help in addition to whatever medical advice you get about supplements etc.

Hi M.,
I also have had low iron in my day not when I was pregnant. Do you like beans? Any kind of beans would help. I went out and bought beans and would eat a can every night. When I went back to the Dr's I was back to normal actually I was better then normal. Also, take Iron supplement vitamins and also eat lots of beans. This will help! Here is a website for you to take a look at. It talks about Iron and different Iron foods you can take.


Good luck,

There are other ways of getting enough iron without resorting to an iron supplement. You can eat more of those dark leafy green veggies, like spinach, swiss chard, kale etc. Plus there are other foods such as beef, liver etc. which are also high in iron. If a pill is the way you want to treat this, try a more natural dessicated liver pill instead of the over the counter iron pills at the drug stores.

Do you know what your iron level was before becoming pregnant or early in the pregnancy? A slight drop (of about 2 points) shows that your blood volume has expanded correctly, a bigger drop could be a flag that your diet is not what it should be. I wouldn't stress a 9.9. Cook with cast iron cookware, and have a vit C food with iron food.

Hi M.,
It may be that your prenatal is just not made with an effective delivery system so you are not absorbing enough of what you need. I work with a Wellness company that holds a scientific patent on their vitamins due to their Fuctose Compounding Delevery System. All that means is that the vitamins and minerals have been bound to a fructose molecule(fruit sugar) which is something that is easily and readily absorbed by your body's cells. If you are interested in getting more info on them, please email me at ____@____.com, or visit my website and request further information from there. http://salvaggio.fourpointwellness.com

I had the same problem when I was pregnant. My doctor just had me take an iron supplement. I got the CVS brand as well. Just some extra advice....get the slow release kind, otherwise you can get stomach cramps(not labor cramps).

You'r Doctor should prescribe Iron pills. I'm telling you from personal experience go for the pill over the liquid. The pill might make you constipated but it's much better tasting then the liquid.

Hi M.!

I had low iron with both of my pregnancies. I was told to take an iron supplement (fergon or something like that). It made me really constipated though. I would ask your doctor. I would think they would have mentioned it if they wanted you to take something. Good luck!

My iron was low when I was pregnant as well. My OB recommended SlowFE which you can get right at CVS. It's slow release, won't cause constipation, and she also suggested that I take it at the opposite time of day of my prenatal vitamin. In the meantime, have yourself a burger, some lentils, or spinach! All are great sources of iron!

My Doctor recommended taking Iron pill. I asked the Pharmacist at my local CVS, and he suggested a sports one, I don't have the specific name with me, but I continued to take it after I gave birth, as I was breastfeeding and any additional Iron you can give to the baby is great.

Eat Prunes! Prunes are not only loaded with iron, they will keep you regular and "emptied" sufficiently which will make delivery, no matter what the method, a lot easier.

I, too, had very low iron during my pregnancy. Combining Vitamin C with every meal wll help your iron absorption. So, basically drink lots of orange juice when you eat! ;)

my ob gave me iron in a pill form for my low iron count. yours should have too. i would ask yours first for it.

It's always best to get iron from your diet, per advice from my midwife, in addition to multiple books I've read. But it's not always easy to get everything you need from your diet alone. Increase your uptake of dark leafy greens, and other food that contain a good amount of iron (do a quick google search and you'll come up with a big list and even the amounts of iron in each for comparison). If you can stomach to eat liver, the amounts of iron are huge.

If you do choose to take a supplement, I recommend Floradix. It is a liquid, whole-food supplement. You can get it from Whole Foods Market, and maybe even your local health food store.

The reason it's better to get your iron from food sources (or a whole foods supplement) is because the iron comes in a form that is easier for your body to process. Much of the iron in the pill supplements that most people take is actually not very easily processed and efficiently used by your body (which is why I've found that 'regular' iron supplements that you get from the grocery store don't actually help me, whereas taking Floradix provided an almost immediate relief from symptoms, thus a higher energy level).

I had a similar issue with my last pregnancy. Your body can only incorporate so much iron from vitamins, so I was told it was best to change my diet. Some suggestions are green leafy vegetables (like spinach, kale, etc), red meat (esp. Liver, yuck), raisins, and beans. It takes a long time to rebuild so start now. The loss of blood at the delivery can compound things so try to build it up now. Good luck to you. I know it is hard to take care of yourself with little ones, but it is so important. Take care!

The best way to replete your iron stores and help your anemia is through dietary sources. Any vitamin obtained through natural diet tends to be better absorbed than pill supplements.

Good natural sources of iron are meat, beans, nuts, iron-fortified breads and cereals, dark leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens), prunes (which will help with the constipation effect of iron supplements and pregnancy), dried fruits.
If you prefer a supplement they are available over the counter. They tend to be constipating, so drink more water than you usually do to help prevent this.
Iron is better absorbed in conjunction with vitamin C, so you could try taking it with orange juice.
I would not worry about a blood transfusion. Iron-deficiency anemia is quite common and treatable. If your physician hasn't brought up the subject already you probably do not have to think about it. Given the fact that you weren't given detailed information about raising your iron, it seems as though your practitioner is not exceptionally worried.
Good luck with your delivery!

Hi M., I also had low iron when I was pregnant and the doctor put me on an iron supplement. I hated it. It gave me severe constipation. So, I supplemented with iron rich foods. Even though I hate it, I ate liver once a week. For another option, a friend of mine introduced me to liverwurst. She fixed me a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and onion (just a hint, sliced very thin) on pumperknicle bread, which I enjoyed. Also, I ate spinach salads. My iron levels went up and I was off the iron supplement. Truth be told, I hope I never, ever, have to go on iron supplements again. I hope this helps you.
--H. J.

I have been anemic my whole life and have had 3 sections (for 4 kids). I have taken the CVS brand of iron supplement along with the prenatals with all pregnancies and have never had a problem. Your level is not extremely low but you could benefit from the supplement. Of course, if you lose a lot of blood during the c-section you could need a transfusion and recovery could be slower but I wouldn't stress over it.

You will never get a transfusion because of iron deficiency- there's not enough iron in the transfused blood to make a difference.
Ask you doctor, but they will probably have you take an iron supplement. It's hard to get enough iron in your diet, but you can try red meat, beans, spinach, etc. And my pediatrician said you should cook in an iron skillet because when you are cooking some of the iron from the skillet is transferred into your food.
Good luck, and try not to worry too much! I've spent most of my pregnancy worrying that worrying is bad for the baby... :-)

Lots of green, leafy vegetables for you! And cook some red meat in a cast-iron pan - the iron gets into the meat. Beans and raisins are good sources of iron, too.

You don't want TOO much iron - it can block your body's ability to absorb anti-oxidants (Vitamin C, for example) and can compromise your immune system's strength.

Just try to add one or two iron-rich foods to your diet each day and you should be fine!

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