Iron is the magic mineral that helps you produce red blood cells which carry oxygen and nutrients through your body and to your baby. During pregnancy, your baby will be taking lots of iron from you, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. To help you feel well and have the energy you need, it’s important that you include plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet.
Iron is found in a wide range of foods like meat, green veges, dried fruit and legumes like baked beans. But by far the best sources of iron are animal foods such as lean red meat, chicken and fish, because the type of iron these foods contain -'haem iron' - is easily absorbed by your body. Aim to eat lean meat, chicken and fish at least 3-4 times a week to keep your iron levels topped up.
Green leafy vegetables, legumes, fortified breakfast cereals and eggs all contain a type of iron called 'non-haem' iron, and unfortunately your body doesn’t absorb it very easily. A trick to helping you absorb more iron is to eat food that’s high in Vitamin C at the same time. Fruits and vegetables like oranges, kiwi fruit, broccoli, tomatoes and capsicums are all good sources of Vitamin C.
Avoid drinking tea with your meals as the tannins reduce your iron absorption.
If you are concerned you are low in iron, have a chat with your GP who may suggest an iron supplement.