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Iron and Vitamin C

Essential for healthy blood, iron is a vital nutrient during pregnancy. It has a key role in transporting oxygen to your baby and contributes to their healthy brain development. Read about the warning signs of iron deficiency, the best ways to add iron to your diet and why it’s beneficial to include vitamin C and iron in the same meal.

Iron is a key nutrient during pregnancy – your blood cells need iron in order to transport extra oxygen around and your baby needs it for their developing brain. If you’re running low on iron you could develop anaemia which will leave you feeling tired, washed-out, short of breath and generally unwell.

When you have your first antenatal appointments, you’ll be routinely tested for anaemia. This will be done by analysing both the haemoglobin levels and the number of red blood cells in your blood. While it’s common for your haemoglobin levels to be lower during pregnancy, you’ll only be prescribed iron supplements if they are very low.

For most pregnant women, including lots of iron-rich foods in your diet such as red meat, fish, eggs, dried fruit, wholegrain breakfast cereals and breads, and green leafy vegetables should keep your iron levels where they need to be.

Good sources of iron

  • Lean meat (make sure it’s well cooked) and oily fish, like sardines
  • Leafy vegetables such as spinach
  • Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, watercress.
  • Nuts, especially cashew nuts
  • Beans and pulses such as chick-peas and lentils
  • Wholegrains such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and iron-fortified breakfast cereals
  • Dried fruits like apricots, prunes and raisins
  • Eggs

Vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron

Whether you’re taking it in pill form or tucking into a steak, iron is best absorbed if ingested alongside vitamin C, so wash down your iron-rich meal or supplement with a fresh glass of fruit juice with no added sugar, or eat fresh fruit with or after your meal.

However, you should avoid drinking tea or coffee within an hour of your meal as they actually reduce iron absorption.

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Further Reading

Your new baby is the centre of your world, but they’ll need you to stay strong and healthy, physically and emotionally, in order to look after them.

It’s natural to feel nervous about giving birth, especially if it’s your first time.

Important notice

By clicking on the "Continue" button, you can learn more about infant nutrition. If you choose to continue, you agree that Danone is supplying this information at your individual request for information purposes.

Breastmilk is the ideal food for infants: it is best adapted to their specific needs. A healthy and balanced diet of the mother is important for the preparation and continuation of breastfeeding. Mixed breastfeeding can interfere with breastfeeding and reduce milk production. It’s hard to reverse the choice of not breastfeeding. If an infant formula is used for a non-breastfed baby, it is important to carefully observe the instructions for preparation and use and to follow the advice of the medical profession. Incorrect use could pose a risk to the child’s health. Socio-economic implications must be considered in the use of infant formula. After 6 months, in addition to breastmilk, water is the only essential drink. Do not hesitate to consult your health care professional if you need advice on feeding your baby.