Iron in Pregnancy

Iron in Pregnancy

Why it is important

Print Iron and Pregnancy

Iron is a mineral that helps our bodies carry oxygen around in the blood. This gives us the energy to be active each day. Iron also helps with the development of your baby’s brain.

During pregnancy, you need more iron than usual. This is to help your baby build enough iron stores for the first six months after they are born. After this, babies need to start getting iron from the food they eat. Read more about iron in foods for babies and children

Iron in animal foods

Iron is found in meat. This kind of iron is called ‘haem’ iron and is absorbed best by the body.

Good sources include:

  • red meat (eg beef, lamb, pork, wallaby)
  • chicken
  • fish*

Eggs also contain iron, but it is harder for the body to absorb.

* For information about fish and mercury see Eating Well for Pregnancy

Iron in plant foods

Iron is also found in plant foods. This type of iron is called ‘non-haem’ iron and is harder for the body to absorb. There are ways of eating that can help your body absorb as much iron as it can.

Good sources of iron from plant foods include:

How do I make sure I get enough iron?

It is important to eat iron rich foods every day.

Ways to help your body absorb iron from foods:

  • include foods high in vitamin C (like oranges, lemons, tomatoes, capsicum, broccoli and berries)
  • eating a variety of iron rich foods together
  • plan some meals and snacks to include foods containing iron
  • do not drink tea or coffee with your meals as they can stop iron being absorbed by the body, it’s better to drink these between meals.

People who follow a plant-based diet eg vegetarian or vegan* diet, may find it hard to get enough iron during pregnancy.

* For information on eating well for pregnancy when following a vegan

Do I need a supplement?

Iron deficiency is common during pregnancy. Some people will need to take iron supplements to increase their iron levels. Talk to your doctor or midwife to see if you need a supplement, especially if you are feeling very tired.

Want to know more

Talk to your doctor, midwife or an Accredited Practising Dietitian.