The Next Pregnancy Challenge:Anemia

The worst of the nausea appears to have past and now in my 25th week I am on to my next pregnancy challenge: anemia.  The nausea has seriously curtailed the variety of foods I can eat. Over the past two months my cravings have dwindled down to; bean burritos, tomatillo salsa, hamburgers, potatoes and spinach salads.  The beans, burgers and spinach are high in iron, and the salsa and potatoes high in Vitamin C which you need to metabolize iron.  After a time I began to wonder why my appetite was so clustered around the nutrient iron.

Additionally, I have some serious heartburn.

Per the doctor’s safe list of OTC meds I have been using TUMS, eating them like mad at the rate of one every two hours over the course of a night.  As my fatigue is increasing I begin to wonder what has changed, other than that I’m knocked up, of course.

 TUMS are made of calcium carbonate.  What does excess calcium do to you?  A bit of Googling and Voila! – calcium decreases iron absorption. 

And there was more to come.  Water, either tap or bottled, tastes off to me, like soap or rust depending on the source.  But it is summer.  I am pregnant, hot and thirsty. So I found an alternative: iced tea.  Now I don’t drink just one glass a day.  I have been guzzling around one pitcher a day.  (By the way, at this stage of the game I have perfected my tea recipe- two regular black tea bags and one orange pekoe tea bag to 4 cups of boiling water, steep for 3 minutes, pour into  container and fill to the top with cold water and ice cubes. Aahh, very nice. 🙂  )

What could be so bad about iced tea?  I don’t add sugar and I like the cold, slightly bitter thin taste. 

Another googling expedition about anemia brought up another tidbit.  Excessive coffee or tea drinking can decrease iron absorption by around 87%.  Whoops!  Am I getting any iron from those iron-rich meals I crave?

Wondering if my theory had any medical basis I spoke with the nurse midwife who looked at me and said emphatically, “I want you off of that.”         

 Hmmm. . .          Do ya’ think?. 😉

I am now controlling the heartburn with Pepcid.  I am off the TUMS for the duration, plus I can only imbibe one regular glass of tea a day.  Without those two substances my body should be able to uptake the iron from my meals and within three weeks or so I should begin feeling better.  Right now I want to sit on the couch with the fan blowing on me and stare at the TV, definitely not me. But I am beginning to feel more hopeful as my fears of three more months of debilitating fatigue appear to be unfounded.

The continual exhaustion has left me feeling quite low and unproductive.  But the upside is that for awhile at least I can eat as many hamburgers as my distended pregnant belly can hold!


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tanit-Isis
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 10:37:32

    Happy fun! My husband is on prescription acid reducers (for about two years now) and sure enough, this past winter his iron was low. According to the pharmacist, anything that reduces stomach acid (aka hearburn) is also going to have the unfortunate side-effect of reducing iron absorption, as iron is best absorbed in a highly acidic stomach. Her best suggestion for him was to take the iron supplements at bedtime, when the medication he takes in the morning is lowest in his system and the upset stomach associated with iron supplements will be less noticeable when he’s asleep. I hadn’t heard that about the coffee and tea, though. He will be THRILLED. 😛

    I also didn’t realize there was a difference between ordinary black tea and orange pekoe tea. You learn something new every day. 😉

    Good luck!


    • Sewista Fashionista
      Jul 11, 2011 @ 13:47:02

      Thanks for the tip on when to take the iron versus the antacid. I had never thought about it that strategically before.

      From what I read you are safe with say one to two cups/glasses of coffee and tea a day, just not larger amounts. So that means your husband does not have to give it up altogether especially if this is one of his great joys – I really like coffee and tea myself.


  2. PepperToast
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 20:18:32

    Oh my! I feel for you, I really do. I had ‘morning sickness’ all day, every day for 5 months and was a victim of anemia, dehydration, lack of calcium (the muscle cramping was INSANE!)… you name it, I lacked it.

    I found that citrus soothed my nausea both smell and taste. I used to smell grapefruit, it had to be a less sweet citrus smell and lemon in water because I too could taste minerals and it caused me to vomit. Cut a bunch of slices and put them in a jug with water in the fridge. I would get my husband to do it the night before so that in the morning the lemon had released into the water.

    Oh ya, and as much hamburgers as your tummy can hold is the stuff that dreams are made of!


    • Sewista Fashionista
      Jul 11, 2011 @ 13:51:12

      Thank you for you well wishes and the tip about the lemon strips sitting in the water overnight. That sounds very promising because right now even tasteless bottled water still tastes off. And I am enjoying my hamburgers as I figure my days of condoned saturated fat intake are limited! 🙂


  3. Rachael Cox
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 14:21:09

    Thank you! I was put on iron supplements in the first trimester for my anemia. Everything has been going well except this week (24th week of pregnancy) I keep having episodes of accelerated heart rate and dizziness.

    I too have been indulging in ice tea and tums! Swearing it off immediately.

    thanks again 😉


  4. TracyKM
    Aug 06, 2011 @ 13:01:33

    I finally went on prescription meds for the heartburn during my last pregnancy, because extra strength Gaviscon, my usual remedy, wasn’t working. I finally felt better and wish I had done it sooner. I also tried diclectin for the nausea, which isn’t available in the States. It’s just B6 and an antihistimine. It didn’t work for me though. However, curing the heartburn did a lot of good towards the nausea! A call to the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children’s “Mother Risk” hotline helped with that one. Had no idea that nausea is a symptom of heartburn—and at that time, I wasn’t even having heartburn/reflux yet. I also used “sea bands” for nausea, but had to put them on before the nausea started.
    What are you doing for the anemia?


    • Sewista Fashionista
      Aug 06, 2011 @ 21:17:39

      I am taking iron supplements along with a B-12 once a day. I make sure I take the supplement with a meat or bean meal, usually lunch, and also a small glass of cranberry juice which is high in Vitamin C, which helps the iron absorb along with the B-12.
      I also backed off of high-calcium foods for a month or so because it was probably the calcium in the antacids that was building up in my body and not allowing the iron to be absorbed. So I have quit the antacids all except for one Pepcid at night.
      I am beginning to feel better though the going is slow. 🙂


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