Are You Getting Enough Iron During Pregnancy?

Why you need iron during pregnancy and how to get it.

Are You Getting Enough Iron During Pregnancy?

It’s true what they say: when you’re pregnant, you really are eating for two. But that’s not a free-for-all to order double shake shack burgers, rather an opportunity to pay close attention to what you’re putting in your body. What mama eats nourishes baby, too. And during these nine months, one of the most important things you can put in your body is iron.

A diet rich in iron is crucial for developing babies. Your body uses iron to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your baby. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases by about 40 to 50 percent – meaning you need those additional red blood cells more than ever.


Good iron levels are important for your wellbeing, too, keeping your already exhausted body from working harder than it needs to.

“In pregnancy, per se, your kidneys and your heart are already working a little bit harder because you’re pregnant, and we wouldn’t want to add insult to injury,” Dr. Tamika Auguste, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, said. “We want to optimize your health during pregnancy. It’s almost like, making sure you’re running on a full tank of gas.”

To keep you from running on empty, the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend pregnant women get 27 milligrams of iron a day.

You can find high amounts of iron in dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, legumes, nuts and seeds, red meat, and tofu. A quarter of a block of tofu, for example, contains 6.2 milligrams of iron (let’s be honest, who only eats one quarter of a block of tofu?), while a cup of lentils contains 6.6 milligrams. An eight-ounce steak contains about the same.

About a quarter of all women -- 15 to 25 percent -- become iron deficient during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Organization, so it’s important to watch out for red flags. If you look in the mirror and pull your lower eyelid down and the skin that’s supposed to be pink is pale: that’s called conjunctiva pallor, and Dr. Auguste says it can be a sign of iron deficiency. Another sign is exhaustion, but aside from a few glorious weeks in the second trimester, exhaustion is pretty ubiquitous for most mamas-to-be.

So if you think you might be iron deficient, one way to give yourself a quick check at home is to check the capillary refill under your fingernails. Press your nail and if it doesn’t go back to pink right away, you might need more iron.

“Sometimes when iron levels are extremely low, there’s a disorder that develops called pica, and women tend to crave ice sometimes, sometimes they crave dirt, sometimes they crave detergent or baking powder,” Dr. Auguste said. “So when a clinician has a patient that comes in with a big tall 20 oz. cup of ice and they’re just chomping away, I would be like – let’s check your iron levels.”

If you have dietary restrictions that could impact your pregnancy, like if you’ve needed extra folic acid in the past or if you are vegan, you should let your physician know. If that’s not the case for you, a balanced diet and your prenatal vitamins should keep you running on all cylinders.

And if those prenatals turn your stomach, Dr. Auguste says no problem. “Sometimes the prenatal vitamins can be hard to swallow, so I tell my patients go ahead and take a Flintstone’s vitamin.”

Photography by Hanna Nakano.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

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Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.


I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

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