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Iron levels

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hmmph. Yesterday I was supposed to see my MW for my 39 week appointment. An hour beforehand I got a message on my answerphone telling me not to come and see her, but that I needed to go to the antenatal clinic at the hospital and see a consultant because my iron levels were still low. I already knew this, I had been prescribed iron tablets after my blood test last week (I refused the prescription the first time they were low, around 34 weeks, and put myself on Floradix and nettle tea and spinach instead, but I hadn't been very good about it recently-if I had known I was getting a follow up test I would have 'studied', but I kind of forgot). I was pretty upset really, because I hate the hospital and didn't know why the hell this merited be going there, and was paranoid they'd try to do 'something' to me, or start getting arsey about homebirth.

(just FYI, I'm in England, and the public health care system here means that MWs are basically part of the medical establishment, you don't get to choose who you see, and although homebirth is theoretically every woman's legal right, it doesn't always come without a fight. The MWs will send you to hospital at the slightest hint of a problem).

So I rushed down to the hospital, after bawling my eyes out because I felt like a failure for being low in iron (now, that's late pregnancy hormones!). I was more than a little stressed, and had to see some professor in a bow tie (maybe it's just prejudice on my part but I don't think wearing a bowtie really puts young pregnant women at ease, ya know. Talk about elevating yourself from patients...). Basically, I had been sent there because the MW was freaking out about allowing me to homebirth with low iron levels, due to the increased reach of PPH (which I'll admit I didn't know about). Now, the consultant was actually rather reasonable about it, explained the concerns but said that my levels weren't really horrendously low (9 for serum ferritin and 10.1 for haemoglobin, if that means anything to anyone) for a pregnant woman, and was willing to reassure the MW that homebirth was still viable, as long as they don't drop and I try to get them up by taking ferrous sulphate.

I really wanted to avoid ferrous sulphate because of the side effects, but he quite strongly recommended it (and kind of dismissed my concerns, of course), particularly to get my iron stores up for breastfeeding. Now, I have the prescription in my pocket and I'm kind of torn between wanting to avoid a nasty synthetic iron supplement and desperately wanting not to end up having to birth in hospital for such a seemingly silly reason. I see my MW again on Thursday,and will have another blood test. Should I just OD on the Floradix up until then, or shall I go for the FE as well? It seems that taking it would be the lesser of 2 evils, but I just don't know....what do you think, ladies?

(my energy levels have been pretty damn high for a full term pregnant woman, which makes me think I can't be hugely deficient in reality, but they'll be going on the blood results so I guess I have to placate them...)
post #2 of 7
it seems like most midwives will deliver at home with a hgb > 10 so you're just at that point. i wouldn't OD on floradix, though. have you tried other forms of iron? i took a black strap molasses iron supplement at the beginning of my pregnancy. also, try cooking with cast iron skillets (if you have them) and keep eating that spinach! are you a vegetarian?
post #3 of 7
first off i am in the same boat. i have struggled big time with this even before pregnancy!

but here is what finally brought them up to "the low side of normal."

1. floraVITAL not dix -- 2-3 big tablespoons a day.
2. iron pills -- 150 mg or so a day. not sulfate but the SOLGAR gentle iron Bisglycinate. 5 25 mg pills a day.
3. alfalafa and clorophyll pills.

--->>important: take iron a few hours apart from foods or vitamins containing calcium. take with lots of vitamin c -- pills and OJ. best on empty stomach if possible.

---->>avoid tea and coffee, these prevent iron absorption. i drink my am tea a few hours away from my iron intake.

----->>red meat every day, mama. i think its the most effective thing. good organic meat if you can.
post #4 of 7
Low levels here too (and I'm on my fourth bottle of Floradix since the end of March!). I think that if you are normally a little iron deficient ( I always have been) then in pregnancy you will be as well and it's a normal physiologic state. I'm careful to take my supplement ( I double the dose to about a measuring cap and a half twice a day) with vit C and I cook up and egg with spinach every morning. This brought my level up from 29.2 to 29.7 after one month....not the best but my mw isn't really concerned.
That's a tough call when the medical establishment DOES put merit into the numbers like yours does. I personally would not take the FE (constipation city; no thanks!), but if it is going to effect whether or not you get a hb then it might be worth it. However, it sounds like the consultant would say that it is okay. The FE may not raise your levels either (at least not significantly) so may be totally not worth it.

As far as PPH goes; I don't think you are at an increased risk FOR it; just an increased risk of FROM it if you do hemmorage. FWIW, I was iron anemic during my first birth and it was like my body knew it needed to conserve that stuff. I hardly bled at all!

OT ( a little): My Floradix says -dix on the bottle and -vital on the box. I think they may generally be the same thing, though I'm curious to know if there is a difference. My mw sells it so I'm sure I'm taking the right thing!
post #5 of 7
I would probably do all of the above. Take the fe pills and then do your own thing. I got mine up with Herbal Iron, yellowdock and chlorophyll. 10 is right on the line but then you don't have much time to get it up. It took me a month to raise mine one full point.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you ladies! I think, given the amount of time I have I'll probably suck it up and try the Fe pills, combined with floradix and dietary everything. Eeek, I didn't realise it could take so long to get iron levels up! I thought it was a kind of quick fix thing...yikes. Oh well, I guess, as the man in the bowtie said, it is important to get iron up for breastfeeding so I should make the effort even if I could be giving birth very soon. Thanks for the info about hemmorage, jakesmama, actually now I think about it he did say he was dubious of claims that it made it more likely, as it didn't make much sense, but I can see how it would make it worse.

And yep, I'm veggie (although I have been pescetarian whilst pregnant, not that there's an awful lot of iron in fish). I don't think red meat would stay down after 10 years off it (plus I can just imagine my vegan boyfriend's face if he came home and saw me tucking into a steak ! Mind you, he cares so much about me and the baby being well he'd quite possibly encourage it!)
post #7 of 7
hey beatee i am sorry if i was pressuring you into eating meat! after i wrote that i thought - oh i bet shes vegetarian oops oops

um, about the floradix vs vital:

floradix is the brand every box says it --

there are actually two kinds. original floradix and floravital which is the "yeast free" version --> there are less weird herbs in it. i forgot which herb but the classic floradix has one thats not so good for PG in large doses?

so to be safe i have been taking the floraVITAL. since i am megadosing!

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