Third Trimester Blood Tests
The two main tests done during the last half of pregnancy include testing for gestational diabetes and for anemia and blood volume expansion.
During pregnancy the amount of blood a woman's body maintains increases drastically. The average woman will add between 2 and 3 quarts of blood to her system. This is one of the key ways that her body is able to meet the increased nutritional demand of the growing baby.
Although the amount of red blood cells does increase, it does not increase as fast as the other blood components. This results in a condition known as physiologic (or normal) anemia of pregnancy. This is checked about 28-32 weeks with a test measuring hemoglobin (the molecule that carries oxygen) and hematocrit (percent of red blood cells). We do expect these numbers to drop from the early pregnancy. If they drop too low, it may indicate that the woman did not have enough iron stores to meet the increased demands. This is quite common and is caused by the many iron drains on the average woman's body during her childbearing years.
To prevent or treat this anemia, we encourage women to focus on including high iron foods in her diet. She may also need to supplement with iron or with nutritive herbs. While many of the herbs do not actually have a lot of iron in them, they do have all of the other nutrients needed to absorb and use the iron well from her diet. These often work better than actual iron supplements. Many women will take a combination of the two. About 3-4 weeks after starting a supplement, the test is repeated to see how well it is working.
List of High Iron Foods
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