During a woman’s pregnancy, her blood volume increases by 50 percent.
That is why it is extremely vital that a woman gets enough iron in her diet, and has herself checked for anemia, to ensure enough oxygen is getting to baby and mom’s muscles, brain, etc.
These foods are some of the richest in iron.
But some things to keep in mind is that:
A) Caffeine can reduce a woman’s ability to absorb iron. If possible, and drink less or avoid caffeinated beverages such as teas and coffees.
B) Calcium rich foods or supplements can also inhibit iron absorption. Try to consume calcium supplements and iron rich foods at opposite ends of the day.
C) Iron supplements can be hard on the body and result in constipation. While getting from diet alone is recommended, sometimes supplementation is needed. If you can, look for supplements that also include a lot of plant-based items. The fiber can greatly reduce those constipating symptoms.
D) The body more readily absorbs iron that is from animal-based food items, but nature has given us everything we need in order to absorb plant-based (“non-heme”) iron, as well. If we are eating vegetables, we are most likely eating fruits and veggies containing Vitamin C. Vitamin C naturally increases a body’s ability to absorb more iron. Be sure you consume both within a meal to give your body a boost in iron.
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Here is a recipe I whipped up recently. Because I never make anything small, this makes a lot…but easy enough to freeze some for later meals!
Butternut Squash Spaghetti
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 jar (25-oz) spaghetti sauce
1 can (13.5 oz) light coconut milk
Cook together on medium heat covered until squash is cooked.
2 small yellow onions, diced
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
Sprinkle of turmeric and black pepper
Fry three ingredients together in a separate pan in a small quarter sized amount of olive oil on medium to low heat for about 20 minutes. You may add lemon juice to lubricate.
When squash is ready, mash together until even (I used a potato masher).
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
5 mushrooms, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
Add onion and garlic along with these three ingredients to sauce and mix, then take off stove and cover. Let residual heat cook the veggies in the sauce while making noodles (about 15 to 20 mins).
Although spicy foods are not recommended for the first trimester (it can aggravate nausea and morning sickness), I added a tablespoon of red pepper flakes for a nice sweet and hot taste. Feel free to add nutritional yeast (like I did), and a few leaves of spinach for color.
Mix with noodles, add fresh cilantro and enjoy.