There are many things that couples can do to increase their chances of getting pregnant. Dietary measures should always be analyzed, since the nutrients a woman takes in through her diet are very likely to influence the hospitality of her womb and her body’s ability to support a pregnancy. Natural Fertility Info reports a 60 percent increased risk of sub par egg health and anovulation in women who don’t consume enough iron.
Around 35 to 58 percent of healthy women are low in iron, the University of Rochester Medical Center reports. Many of them are at risk of skipping ovulation altogether due to this. The journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology notes among women who struggled with infertility in one study, those who consumed iron supplements were less likely to skip ovulation than those who didn’t.
When Iron Is Low
While the standard prenatal vitamin contains 18 to 30 mg of iron, that often isn’t enough for a pregnant woman. In fact, The Bump notes around 20 percent of pregnant women are anemic — low in iron — while pregnant. This condition typically resolves on its own after delivery of the child. Nonetheless, an iron-rich diet can encourage a friendlier environment for an embryo to implant. The New Hope Network reports a 50 percent decreased risk of miscarriage in women who consume adequate amounts of folate and iron. If you’re planning to become pregnant, checking your iron levels ahead of time is a smart choice, especially if you have any signs of low levels. Symptoms of anemia include:
- Hair loss
- Sore tongue
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle weakness
The Importance of Iron for Baby
During pregnancy, fetal development is in place right from the start. That’s why having stable iron levels from the beginning is so important. Furthermore, iron is crucial during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Adequate iron reserves are also necessary while breastfeeding. During fetal development, babies absorb a large amount of iron that they store for their body’s use in their first half-year. When nursing, babies get all of their nutrition from their iron reserves and mother’s milk. When they reach seven to 12 months of age, they begin to deplete their iron reserves. Still needing eleven miligrams per day and not receiving that from breast milk in some cases, iron supplementation in some form may be necessary after the sixth month of age. Iron testing should be performed before supplementation though, since too much iron can also cause problems.
Many supplements have been created in an attempt to make sure infants are getting all the iron they need. The most popular suggestion among parents and doctors alike is to introduce infant cereal, which is fortified with iron. However, these baby food products are nutritionally void and highly processed. In addition, babies who breastfeed are more likely to start weaning when cereal is introduced — something physicians often push as early as 4 months. However, a baby’s gut isn’t even fully mature until six to eight months. Infant formula is also fortified with iron, but its overall nutritional competency can’t compete with breastmilk. The safest choice for supplementation is liquid iron drops if iron is needed prior to food being introduced.
Certain forms of iron may be better than others. Heme-type iron — derived from meats — is better absorbed than non-heme, which is found in plant sources. The best form of iron intake is through diet. The Mayo Clinic recommends red meats, legumes, pork, poultry, seafood, leafy greens, peas, and dried fruits to up your natural iron intake. It should be noted that iron is more bioavailable when consumed through meats. Individuals who eat a vegetarian diet are urged to consume 1.8 times more iron than meat-eaters, per the National Institutes of Health.
Second in line is supplementation. Adding an iron tablet to your daily dose of vitamins seems like the smartest step and it may even be what your doctor prescribes, but there is another option that is growing in popularity. A high quality liquid iron supplement is absorbed by the body far better. In addition, annoying side effects of iron tablets—such as constipation—can be avoided by using liquid forms.
Women who are trying to conceive may also want to increase their vitamin C intake. Not only is this mineral a strong support for the immune system, but it helps the woman’s body to absorb iron more completely. Just as dietary sources are the best for consuming iron, they are for vitamin C, too. Increasing berries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and citrus fruits in your diet can do the trick. Remember, a well-rounded diet is the most important step in cultivating a hospitable womb for a baby. That being said, natural measures to boost fertility aren’t likely to cause any harm.
Ideal iron levels for women planning to conceive are between 40 and 70 micrograms per liter, per Fertility Authority. One of the best non-food source iron supplements to make use of is Floradix, which is an organic liquid iron supplement shown to have no side effects in 90 percent of people who take it. With a boost of iron, you can boost your fertility and find yourself holding your bundle of joy sooner than you may have thought.