22 weeks: Fighting Fatigue, Iron Deficiency in Pregnancy
Tired, tired, tired… now I know it’s normal to feel a wee bit sleepy when pregnant, but for some reason this month I was beyond that. It really did feel like fatigue, like proper in-my-bones tiredness. I felt flat and could never get anything done, let alone plan a whole day out of the house, because my afternoon sleep was vital. The benefits of having a daughter at school and working from home, I suppose, but frankly, if I had been working in an office, I’d probably have been signed off by now.
There was also the brain fug, the total lack of motivation and the strange shortness of breath. I felt like an elderly woman who’d smoked 80-a-day since childhood.
So thank God for girlfriends. Sitting chatting one day, I mentioned how yesterday I’d actually found myself crawling along the floor – ridiculous I know! “Let’s have a look under your eyelid,” said a friend. What? It was a bizarre request, but in desperation I demurred.
“Oh you’re iron deficient,” she said peeking at the blood vessels under my eye, “it looks slightly whiter than it should.” I went upstairs to look in the mirror, once again feeling a twinge at my pale, drawn face. I pulled my eyelid down, but there’s no way I would have been able to tell that it was any different from normal. My friend has five children though and a good knowledge natural remedies, so I trusted her opinion.
I trotted off to a local health-food shop, brought a pack of liquid iron supplements (much gentler on the digestive system than tablets) and crossed my fingers.
The results were astounding. Literally within days, I felt my brain clear. I could think, plan ahead – make lists. I never thought I’d be glad to see the return of my never-ending list, but for the first time in months I felt like my life was under-control. I remembered to buy my daughter a Halloween outfit and to invoice for work done months ago; it was a miracle.
By a week or so, I was even getting through a whole day without a lie-down – revolutionary, and in perfect time as half-term would have made my daytime sleep habit decidedly difficult.
A month on from my iron revelation and I’m still a wee bit tired at the end of the day, but nothing compared to before. I feel much happier as well and my face looks healthy again, no longer resembling a haggard old lady.
A quick look at the NHS’ page on anaemia (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Anaemia-iron-deficiency-/Pages/Introduction.aspx
) shows that iron deficiency is common in pregnant women. I was never actually diagnosed, personally I didn’t have the time to make a docs appointment, get a blood test, wait for results etc, etc. I needed to get better and quick. But these symptoms (from the NHS site) look pretty familiar to me:
Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia
shortness of breath (dyspnoea)
changes in your appearance, such as a pale complexion and dry nails
I have a feeling I’ve been deficient for long before this pregnancy though as I had heavy periods, and breastfed my first for a long time.
So if you’re reading this and you do feel very tired, especially if you’re pregnant, have heavy periods or you breastfed/ are breastfeeding, then I’d definitely recommend giving liquid iron supplements a go.
Just make sure you follow the recommendations on the packet and if you’re taking any other supplements, check how much iron they contain as you don’t want to overdose.