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Knocked Down... by Anemia

Melanie at

I should probably start off by saying that this pregnancy has been full of surprises—from when I actually got pregnant (a few months before we planned to start trying), to my persistent problems with high blood pressure and being at high-risk for preeclampsia, to how I woke up feeling on Saturday morning. In short, it wasn’t good.

I woke up around 4 am (not an unfamiliar hour to me these days) to pee, and I felt like I had had about 20 margaritas (and just in case anyone responds like my dad did when I told him—“So, were you drunk?”—I’d only had water to drink). I was incredibly light-headed and dizzy and had to literally hold onto the walls to make it to the bathroom. When I got back to bed and was unable to get back to sleep, I got up again a while later to get a cup of warm milk with honey, one of my childhood remedies for getting back to sleep. Except that I couldn’t even make it the 20 feet to the kitchen—I had to stop and lie down on the couch to keep from falling over. I eventually made it to the kitchen and back to bed, hoping that I’d feel better when I got up for the day, but that never happened.

When I woke up around 7:30 (a sincere thanks to my husband for getting up with our kids at 6:00), I was still feeling rotten. I thought that maybe I was just dehydrated—something my midwife and I had just discussed at my appointment last week—so I did everything she suggested, as well as everything Google suggested to my husband when he searched for “pregnancy and dizziness.” Feet up, eating protein, drinking water… By 10:30 that morning, when I was still out of it, my husband gave me an ultimatum: either call my midwives’ emergency line or he was going to take me to the emergency room. Wisely, I chose the former, despite feeling like maybe this wasn’t quite an emergency.

I prefaced the call with, “I’m not bleeding, and the baby is fine! But…” My midwife confirmed that this was just the kind of situation in which I should contact them and after asking some specific questions about my diet and just what had been happening in the last several hours, and sending me to look in a mirror at my complexion and the inside of my lower eyelid (both of which were much paler than usual), she said she thought I was likely becoming anemic. I had tested negative for anemia several weeks ago, but she said it wasn’t uncommon for women to develop anemia around midway through a pregnancy, given how much blood volume increases, and that bodies often struggle to keep iron levels up around now. She gave me instructions on what I could do immediately and in the near future to feel better, including eating lots of iron-rich foods (“Tell Sam to grill you a steak tonight for dinner!”), drinking nettle tea, and consuming an iron-rich concoction called Floradix.

It was kind of amazing to feel okay as of Saturday afternoon and eventually feel like myself as of Sunday morning. It ended up being an easy fix, thankfully, but it really surprised me how quickly it all came on and just how awful I felt.

Did you have any problems with anemia during pregnancy? Have any favorite iron-rich foods to suggest? Leave a comment .