Are you getting enough iron? Find out if an iron deficiency may be limiting your energy this week.

If you've listened to friends who are new mothers, you know that you should have tons of energy during your 2nd trimester. But suddenly you're feeling tired every minute, and you can hardly focus on the tasks at hand. What's going on?

Expectant women need twice as much iron as they did before they were pregnant, and one of the main causes of fatigue after the 20th week is an iron deficiency that results in anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia throughout the world. It can be caused by an inadequate consumption of red meat and other foods high in iron and vitamin B12. If you suspect that you're anemic, ask your provider to test your blood for iron deficiency.

If your iron stores are low, your red blood cells aren't getting enough iron to support your muscles and your baby. Many women experience this during the 2nd trimester because their babies are growing rapidly and absorbing extra iron from their blood. If left untreated, you suffer the risk of increased stress on your heart due to inadequate hemoglobin and low oxygen saturation in your blood, less resistance to infection, and a lower tolerance to heavy blood loss or surgical intervention during your delivery. If you are really anemic, your baby's health may suffer too.

Luckily it's easy enough to fix. Your provider will probably suggest an iron supplement. Once you add more iron, you may have more constipation. Increase your fluids and stay active.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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