Iron Deficiency after having a baby

Bringing a new life into the world is an incredible experience, but with this also comes significant physical demands on the mother’s body. Postpartum anaemia is a common condition that can affect up to 50-80% of women after childbirth. It is a condition characterized by a lower than normal level of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood after childbirth. Having adequate haemoglobin levels is crucial as it carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

There are various causes of post-partum anaemia some of which include; 

  • Excess blood loss during delivery can significantly deplete iron levels, leading to anaemia
  • Women delivering twins or triplets can increase risk due to a higher blood volume and nutrient requirement
  • Those with a poor nutritional intake of iron-rich foods during pregnancy and after can contribute to anaemia
  • Women who have pre-existing anaemia during pregnancy are at a higher risk of postpartum anaemia
  • Birth complications can arise such as placenta previa or placental abruption which can lead to significant blood loss during delivery

Symptoms of Post partum Anaemia

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Pale complexion 


  • In order to diagnosis postpartum anaemia a complete blood test is required, which measures the levels of various blood components.



Management and Treatment

  • Oral iron supplements are commonly prescribed. In more severe cases, intravenous iron may be required
  • Increasing intake of iron-rich foods such as red meat/poultry, fish, legumes, leafy green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals
  • Allowing the body time to rest to ensure effective recovery
  • Regular follow up appointments with the GP is vital to monitor haemoglobin levels

Can I prevent Postpartum Anaemia?

It may not always be possible to prevent postpartum anaemia, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk:

  • Consuming a well-balanced diet rich in iron including other essential nutrients throughout pregnancy and postpartum. Vitamin- C rich foods such as citrus fruits can enhance iron absorption
  • Regular prenatal check-ups can assist with the management of anaemia
  • Discuss suitable iron supplements and vitamins with your healthcare provider

Postpartum anaemia is a common yet manageable condition. With adequate treatment and lifestyle modifications, new mothers can recover and regain their strength. Every mother has a unique journey, so now more than ever, it’s important to prioritize your health and wellbeing.



  1. Yourkavitch, J., Obara, H., Gulnoza Usmanova, Semrau, K., Moller, A.-B., Marı́a Nieves Garcı́a-Casal, & Jahnavi Daru. (2023). A rapid landscape review of postpartum anaemia measurement: challenges and opportunities. BMC Public Health23(1).
  2. Neef, V., Suma Choorapoikayil, Hof, L., Meybohm, P., & Zacharowski, K. (2024). Current concepts in postpartum anemia management. Current Opinion in Anesthesiology.
  3. World Health Organization. (2023, May 1). Anaemia.
  4. Markova, V., Norgaard, A., Jørgensen, K. J., & Langhoff-Roos, J. (2015). Treatment for women with postpartum iron deficiency anaemia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Written by:

Cliodhna Dunleavy, Final Year Dietetics Student Coventry University.  Fact checked by Sonja Lynch CORU Registered Dietitian