Energy crash! Time to go to the hospital and get strapped up to an IV for an iron infusion! Wait! What?
My OBGYN knows I am normally quite high energy, so when I told her about my severe exhaustion, she knew something was up. We had my iron levels tested.
Despite a healthy diet full of iron-rich foods, and despite taking prenatal vitamins, my iron levels were too low. My doctor prescribed an iron infusion in the delivery suite so we could monitor my baby boy the whole time. It sounded pretty invasive and full on, so I didn't want to do it at first.
My OBGYN gave me clearance to try another option first. I tried taking an oral iron supplement in addition to my prenatal vitamins. Unfortunately, a couple weeks later I felt like I had walked off a cliff into the low-energy zone. The best thing for me to compare it to is the exhaustion I used to feel after a long 20-plus mile run during marathon training – not wanting to move a muscle because everything felt fatigued.
Most days I could go about my business until mid-afternoon before heading into the twilight zone. But unfortunately, a little over a week ago that feeling started coming on earlier an earlier.
I could hardly keep my eyes open. I was losing concentration. I became short of breath. I noticed my heart rate was going up, my hair has been quite dry and I've even felt dizzy a few times. It became apparent that I ought to go ahead and get the iron infusion.
I hated the idea because I am so conscious about eating a balanced diet. Although I don't eat red meat, I make sure to meet the recommended daily value of iron (lots of green vegetables, beans, iron-fortified cereals, etc), and religiously take my prenatal vitamins.
I felt like I had been doing something wrong. But my OBGYN reassured me. She said it's quite common for pregnant women to be iron-deficient, even when they are eating healthy diets. The growing baby just sucks a lot of goodness from us unfortunately!
Having done quite a bit of research on this as of late, I have now learned that a way for all of us, pregnant or not, to make sure we actually absorb the iron we are eating is to pair it with Vitamin C. This is something I was not taking into account.
Going to the delivery suite at the hospital for the iron infusion turned out to be a great idea. The process was not painful (aside from the stick when the needle for the IV goes in), and lasted less than an hour. I was told the main side effects are quite minor – possible headache or nausea.
But the other big risk is daunting. If the needle goes in wrong, there is a very slight chance the iron will stain your arm, permanently. Eeeek! I did not want to end up with a brown, iron tattoo for sure!
Fortunately all went smoothly. I am told it typically takes a little over a week to notice a real difference in energy levels, but I already feel like it was a fabulous decision to get the iron infusion.
Just going to the delivery suite in the hospital was also comforting in a way. I got a mini tour, and now feel more prepared for my labor and delivery. Makes total sense! Now I know where all the magic will happen next month – when we welcome our baby boy into the world!