This recipe for “Iron Jam” comes from Latvia and many women have found it very useful. It can be eaten as often as you like. The combination of ingredients has a high iron content, plenty of vitamin C to aid with the absorption of iron, and will counteract constipation.
Chop and mash together (or use a food processor) equal amounts of walnuts, figs, honey, apricots and cranberries and eat as a jam spread. Some women like to eat it with yoghurt. If using the processor, leave the honey out and add after the other ingredients are blended
Why Is Iron so important during pregnancy?
Iron is needed for healthy blood. As your baby develops, and needs iron to grow, he takes your iron stores. You may be unable to replenish these with food alone. This means you may become anaemic, which can result in: fatigue, pale pallor, lack of stamina, palpitations, shortness of breath and dizziness.
Haemoglobin is the iron-bearing and oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. You are generally considered to be anaemic when haemoglobin concentrations fall below 11 g/dL for pregnant women (it is about 12 g/dL for non-pregnant women). According to the World Health Organisation more than half of the pregnant women in the world have haemoglobin levels indicative of anaemia, but only about 15% of pregnant women in developed countries become anaemic.
Women with low iron levels are also more likely to bleed heavily after birth, a further drain on an already depleted store of iron. This will add to your exhaustion after the birth, and mean that your milk production could be low, and you may find it difficult to cope with being a new mother. In extreme circumstances you may even require a blood transfusion.
If you have sufficient iron levels at birth all these things are less likely to happen.
You will not notice your iron levels dropping if it happens gradually over a long period of time. If you are not on iron supplements ask for a repeat blood sample to be taken at approximately 34 weeks. This will allow you time to get your levels back up if they are low.
If you are vegetarian, you can be even more likely to suffer from low iron levels and it is usually recommended that you take a supplement.
Different caregivers will have varied approaches to the prescription of iron during pregnancy. You may find that a friend has been prescribed iron tablets, and you have not, though your haemoglobin levels may be lower.
Some women find that iron supplements can cause constipation. However, it may actually be pregnancy hormones that are causing the constipation, and iron is just getting the blame! Spirulina, or liquid vegetable supplements such as Floradix, which are available from health food shops seem to be a very good alternative, even when you are just trying to maintain a normal iron level.
- Do not take iron supplements or iron-rich foods with tea or coffee, or within an hour of taking any caffeine drink, including colas.
- Do take them with vitamin-c rich fruit or vegetable juice to help with absorption. In fact taking a vitamin C supplement will help your body absorb iron.
- Iron rich foods include: dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach; raisins, figs and other dried fruit; pumpkin seeds; tofu; red meat; egg yolks; beans and pulses.
- Minimise the constipating side effects of iron supplements by increasing your fluid intake, and by eating prunes, oranges and figs.
- Eat Iron Jam (see above)