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The Importance of Iron During Pregnancy

Iron is an important mineral required for human growth and to keep a healthy person functional, that is why it is even more important for mothers-to-be to maintain a healthy level of iron in their system during pregnancy.

In this Pacific Prime article, we look at the importance of iron during pregnancy for mothers-to-be and the baby growing within them.

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Why Iron Needs Increase During Pregnancy

Iron is an essential mineral that is needed to form hemoglobin. Iron is particularly important during pregnancy because during pregnancy, mothers have an increased blood volume to support both their body and the growing fetus inside them.

In normal circumstances, the daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron for women between 19-50 is approximately 18mg of iron per day. During pregnancy, it is estimated that the RDA is increased to 27 mg per day.

The Effects of Iron Deficiency on Pregnancy

Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) can lead to side effects including fatigue, headache, and cold hands and feet but during pregnancy, it can lead to more serious effects such as the ones below:

  • Lower birth weight

IDA during pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight due to preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), this is when a baby in the womb does not grow as expected.

  • Preeclampsia

Studies have found that severe anemia during pregnancy increases the risk of preeclampsia, a serious blood pressure condition that develops during pregnancy, by 3.6 times.

  • Increased risk of infections

Low iron levels weaken the body’s immunity. This can be serious during pregnancy as it puts both the mother and fetus at higher risks of infections.

Good Iron Food Sources for Pregnancy

Now that you have an idea of the importance of iron during pregnancy, you may be thinking where you can absorb iron from. Iron can be found in a variety of different food groups, from red meat to vegetarian options including beans and tofu.

Here are a few high-iron options that are suitable during the pregnancy stage:

  • Red meat: beef, lamb, and pork
  • Poultry: chicken and turkey
  • Seafood: oysters, mussels, crab, tuna, and salmon
  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale, and chard
  • Beans and lentils: kidney beans, black beans, soy beans, lentils
  • Dried fruits and nuts: raisins, prunes, apricots, and cashews

Iron Supplementaries for Pregnancy

There are many supplementary products with extra iron in stores that cater for pregnancy to help with the increased iron needs. In a study that explored the benefits and risks of iron supplementation during pregnancy, the benefits with iron supplements were found to outweigh the risks.

Before taking an iron supplement, it is vital that you discuss it with your doctor to see whether or not iron supplements are right for you.


During pregnancy, the mother’s daily iron needs are increased from the recommended amount of 18 mg to 27 mg, due to having increased blood volume to support the growing fetus. It is important for mothers that they meet their daily iron needs to avoid the risks that iron deficiency can bring.

Mothers-to-be can keep up with their daily iron needs through natural food sources including red meat, poultry, leafy greens, and even dried fruits and nuts. Additionally, you can consult your doctor for supplementary products with extra iron for pregnancy.

If you are planning to start a family in China, securing comprehensive maternity insurance is also a good preventative action you can take so that you are insured in case of any unexpected pregnancy difficulties. Be sure to secure your plan ahead of time as maternity insurance has waiting periods.

Securing an insurance plan can be a daunting task, but Pacific Prime can help you! As an insurance intermediary, we can help you secure maternity insurance, so that you can access medical care in China with peace of mind. What’s more, you can also get health insurance for your expat family in China.

Contact us today to learn more about insurance and discover your options!

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Disclaimer: Pacific Prime solely represents, operates and manages locally regulated insurance products and services in the territory of PR China. Any references to Pacific Prime Global Company or Group, the international services, insurance products or otherwise stated written or verbally, is for introduction purposes about our overseas network only as each entity is fully independent.