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Eating Iron-rich Foods in Pregnancy

Published on June 5, 2014 by Virginia Women's Center

Iron is a mineral in our bodies that helps carry oxygen to our organs and tissues. During pregnancy, iron also carries oxygen to your baby. You need more iron in your pregnancy diet to support the growth of your baby and to produce extra blood. The recommended amount of iron during pregnancy is 27 milligrams, which can be found in most prenatal vitamins. Iron also helps prevent anemia, a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells.

iron-rich foodsAll pregnant women are at risk for becoming anemic. However, the risk increases if you:

  • Are pregnant with multiples (more than one child)
  • Have had two pregnancies close together
  • Vomit a lot because of morning sickness
  • Are a pregnant teenager
  • Don’t eat enough foods that are rich in iron
  • Had anemia before you became pregnant


When you have anemia in pregnancy, you may feel weak and tired. If severe anemia is not treated, it can increase your risk of having a preterm birth or a low birth-weight baby.

While your health care provider may recommend you take an iron supplement, good nutrition plays an important role in preventing anemia during pregnancy.

Iron-rich foods to include in your pregnancy diet are:

  • Lean red meat
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collards)
  • Dried fruit (prunes, raisins, apricots)
  • Iron-enriched cereals, breads and pastas
  • Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans
  • Artichokes
  • Peas


Iron can be difficult for your body to absorb. You can increase the absorption of iron by eating foods or drinking beverages that are rich in vitamin C at the same time you eat iron-rich foods.


About Virginia Women’s Center
Our care team – comprised of OB-GYNs, high-risk pregnancy specialists, nurse practitioners, ultrasound technologists, psychologists and a genetic counselor – are experienced in all aspects of pregnancy and welcome the opportunity to provide care that revolves around you. We have added all of these services and specialists to our practice not only for your convenience, but also because we believe that you will benefit from a coordinated and comprehensive approach to your pregnancy care. For more information, visit, or find us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.