Did you know that iron is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide? Many women have low stores and then become anaemic during pregnancy. Some women start their pregnancy with good iron stores but then become deficient due to the demands of growing new life. Iron deficiency is also very common in breastfeeding women.

Low iron can leave a person feeling lethargic, weak and irritable. Other symptoms can include; shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Anemia can affect the woman’s ability to heal from infections and illnesses and she may be more prone to excess blood loss during birth.

After birth, iron deficiency can hinder the person’s ability to take care of their children and perform simple household tasks. Research has also linked low iron levels to postpartum depression.

The mother’s blood volume has to increase by about 50% during pregnancy and iron is needed to help build blood cells in both the mother and foetus. It can be difficult to obtain the recommended 27mg of iron from diet alone, but the following foods, herbs and supplements can help.

It is important that the mother-to-be eats wholesome and nutrient-dense foods in order to provide the correct nourishment for herself and her baby. If you’re iron deficient, be sure to include iron-rich foods in your diet every day.

Iron-Rich Foods for pregnancy

Foods that contain iron include; animal sources such as liver, red meats, eggs, chicken and salmon. The vegetable sources containing iron are; dark green leafy vegetables, seaweed, brewer’s yeast, molasses, millet, prunes, raisins, dried apricots, cherries, mushrooms and sunflower and pumpkin seeds.



Herbs That Are Helpful For Building Iron

Nettle tea; Make a brew of nettle tea to help boost iron as well as receive valuable vitamins such as A, B, K and C. Suggested dose is 3-4 tablespoons per litre of boiling water and steep for 30 minutes or overnight, depending on how strong you like it. Drink 1-4 cups per day.

Dandelion root or leaf: A wonderful source of iron as well as being beneficial for the liver. It also contains vitamins A, B, C and D.

Enjoy foods with vitamin C to help absorb the iron from the food. An easy way to do this is add lemon juice to your food.

Iron Tonic Recipe By Dr Aviva Romm

A nourishing iron tonic that also eases constipation:

Add 1 tablespoon of yellow dock and 1 tablespoon of dandelion root with 1 litre of boiling water and steep for 4-8hrs.

Strain the liquid into a saucepan and then simmer uncovered to reduce down to 1 cup.

Add 1/4 cup of blackstrap molasses (also high in iron) and store in glass jar in the fridge.

The dosage is 1-2 tablespoons daily.

Take with vitamin C for enhanced absorption.


Placenta Capsules And Iron

After the birth, consuming your placenta capsules can boost iron levels, increase energy and help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. A study published last year showed that placenta contains 7 times more iron than beef. Research conducted over the last 13 years has shown the placenta contains high amounts of bioavailable iron.


Floradix iron is a pleasant tasting tonic available in most health food shops. It probably won’t be enough on its own if you’re anaemic.

Organic liver capsules by Vitality Pills available online at Organic Liver Pills. These are highly effective at helping you to feel better and build iron stores.

Hemagenics Intensive Care tablets (practitioner range available at Nimbin apothecary or Lismore Traditional Medicinals)

Only supplement if you know you are low in iron and have spoken with a healthcare practitioner.


Regular exercise increases the body’s demand for oxygen. This creates a response in the body and encourages absorption of iron from the red blood cells. Try for at least 5-10 minutes of exercise each day and build up as you start to feel better.

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