If you had a big blood loss at delivery you are probably now dealing with postpartum anemia. This will make you feel exhausted, irritable and downright rubbish. The postpartum period is already a hard slog with sleepless nights, constant feeds, poor diet and still having to run a household.
If your iron levels are low it can affect your life beyond your health. Let’s look at ways you can deal with postpartum anemia. These are great tips if you’ve just given birth or you’ve had a big blood loss in a previous pregnancy.
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11 Ways to Cope with Postpartum Anemia
1. Take Supplements
Depending on how low your iron levels are you should start to take iron supplements. You can opt for capsules, liquid or chewable forms. You’ll need to take around 2-3 tablets a day to get your levels back to normal.
Finding a good iron supplement for you can be a bit hit or miss. Certain types of iron can give you a really upset tummy or make you feel sick. Look out for brands which are labeled as non-constipating or slow release.
2. Eat Iron Rich Food
Even if you are already taking supplements, you have to remember they are a diet aid. That means you should still change your diet to include iron-rich foods. The best sources of iron come from animal protein such as meat, poultry or fish. You can also get iron from vegetables, fortified cereals and whole grains. Plant-based iron doesn’t absorb as well into the body but can still boost your daily intake.
3. Get Follow Up
Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with postpartum anemia or you feel rubbish at home. See your caregiver if you continue to feel run down and symptomatic of anemia. It may mean you need to change the brand of supplements you are using, or that further bloods are needed. If your iron levels continue to drop you may need an iron IV drip, injections or a blood transfusion. Your caregiver may also be able to monitor your diet to ensure you are getting the right amount of iron and where you can make changes.
4. Cut down on the Tea
Or coffee for that matter. Both contain an ingredient known as tannin, which can slow the absorption of iron. If you also drink a lot of milk, then the calcium can slow your absorption of iron from your food. We recommend cutting down your daily intake or preferably stopping until your iron levels increase. If you can’t go without, try only drinking your tea or coffee in between taking your iron supplements.
5. Get Rest
You should try to get as much rest as possible to help your body recover. If your partner has parental leave then let him do the bulk of the work. Try not to be superwoman, you’ll end up out of action for longer. Rope in family and friends to help out too. They will be around a lot in those early day. Don’t let them leave you to act as a host. If possible get them to bring around a meal do a chore, or look after baby whilst you have a nap.
6. Watch Your Mood
You’ve probably heard of postnatal depression. Studies have shown that there is a definite link between being anemic and developing postpartum depression. Anemia causes fatigue and low milk supply when breastfeeding. These can both leave you feeling overwhelmed. Especially if your baby is not settling and you are feeling exhausted. If you are feeling low then discuss your moods with your caregiver. They will help give you more advice, medication or support groups to attend.
7. Go Natural
If you are not keen on taking supplements for anemia then try a natural cure. Blackstrap molasses has been used for centuries to improve anemia symptoms. It’s really rich in iron and can help to boost your iron levels quickly. It’s suitable for a diabetic as it has a low glycaemic index, unlike refined sugar. Its sweet taste means you can use it in your diet as a sweetener.
Another alternative is to use a Lucky Iron Fish when you are cooking. It’s a cast iron fish you add to your cooking pot or mug of hot drink. It releases iron into your food and drinks so you get an easy dose. Plus it’s reusable so you can buy the device for around the same amount as a bottle of iron supplements.
These are great options if you simply can’t tolerate any iron supplements. Also if you are vegetarian or vegan and want to avoid using any animal-based products or fillers.
8. Vitamin C
Fill up on Vitamin C rich food to boost your iron absorption. This includes fruits such as oranges and strawberries. Some people like to take their iron supplement with orange juice to boost the amount absorbed. The Vitron-C iron supplements combine an iron with vitamin C, so you only need to take the one tablet.
9. Drink More Fluids
The health benefits of a regular water intake after birth are amazing. If you’ve lost a lot of blood it’s important to keep your circulation flowing. If you become dehydrated you put yourself at risk of developing a blood clot. Water can also increase your energy levels and prevent UTI’s which are common with anemia. Iron supplements can make you constipated, which you can tackle with regular fluids. Don’t go excessive with the water as this can dilute your blood too much and make you feel worse. Aim to drink around 2 liters (half a gallon) of fluid a day.
10. Stool Softener
If regular fluids aren’t tackling your constipation problem then try a stool softener. You probably won’t poo for around 4 days after delivery. If you are bunged up longer than this you may need a little help. Stool softeners are great for getting things moving along. We’d recommend the Colace capsules, they work well and you get them for a great price on Amazon. If you’re brave you can even opt for some prune juice to get more nutrients and increase your fluids at the same time.
11. Monitor Infection
Anemia can increase your risk of getting an infection. Your immune system is lowered and has less chance of fighting off any nasty infections. Tears, C-sections wounds and milky breasts are all heavenly places for bacteria to breed quickly. If you start to feel unwell, have a fever, shivering or see signs of infection then contact your doctor or midwife. These are usually quickly cleared up with antibiotics, however, can make you seriously unwell if left untreated.