Eating a healthy diet
All pregnant women should be advised about eating enough foods containing good amounts of iron and folate (a vitamin, which is also called folic acid). You already know why she needs iron. Folate also helps to prevent anaemia in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and it can prevent some kinds of birth abnormalities in the baby.
Think back to Study Session 13. Name some foods that contain a lot of iron.
You may have thought of some of these: chicken; fish; sunflower, pumpkin and squash seeds; beans, peas and lentils; dark green leafy vegetables; yams; hard squash; red meat (especially liver, kidney and other organ meats); whole grain products such as brown bread; iron-fortified (enriched) bread; nuts and egg yolk.
Now name some foods that contain a lot of folate.
Fish; sunflower, pumpkin and squash seeds; beans and peas; dark green leafy vegetables; red meat (especially liver, kidney and other organ meats); brown rice; whole wheat; mushrooms and eggs.
Iron and folate tablets
You should give each pregnant woman enough iron tablets and folate tablets so she can take one tablet of each supplement once a day, or a combined tablet, until she sees you for the next antenatal visit. Make sure you give women more of these tablets at every visit. The preventive dosage is:
- Iron: 300 to 325 mg (milligrams) of ferrous sulphate once a day taken by mouth, preferably with a meal. Usually this dosage will be supplied in a single tablet combined with folate, but sometimes it can be given as iron drops.
- Folate: 400 µg (micrograms) of folic acid once a day taken by mouth, usually combined with iron.