Iron and calcium are given during pregnancy to provide for the needs of the growing baby.
Iron is used to produce haemoglobin,the substance in RBC that carries oxygen to various organs.It also increases immunity of body.Blood volume increases in pregnancy,so do the iron needs.Recommended daily allowance of iron is approximately 30 mg per day which amount to 3-4 servings of iron rich food.
As Indian diet is mostly vegetarian which is low in iron we have a very high prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia,more so in females.Anaemia can cause a lot of complications in both you and your baby-lowbirth weight, premature birth, tiredness, lethargy, irritability, depression, Operative delivery, post partum haemorrhage, blood transfusion to list a few.
Indian council of medical research recommends all pregnant women to have iron supplements- 100mg of iron daily for at least 100 days after nausea and vomitings settle down and continue while breastfeeding also.Your haemoglobin levels should be maintained above 11gm% throughout pregnancy.For maintenance 1 tablet/day is given. If it is already low, therapeutic dose 2-3 tablets/day in divided doses is given.
Your diet should also be rich in iron as follows-
It is absorbed easily and found mostly in non vegetarian food.
NON HAEM IRON-
Vegetarian source eg green leafy vegetables like spinach,chaulai, mooli patta, pudina,shalgam,broccoli,beetroot, nuts, dry fruits, pulses, legumes, apricots and various enriched or fortified breads and cereals.In addition protein should also be adequate as haemoglobin has globin which is protein.
Recommend daily allowance of calcium is 1000mg/day in pregnancy and breastfeeding.It is needed to build strong teeth and bones of baby.It is also needed for proper blood clotting,functioning of muscles and nerves,to prevent high BP in mother etc.If you do not have enough calcium in diet,the baby will take it from your bones and make them weak.Having at least 4-5 servings of dairy products or calcium rich food will ensure that your daily needs are being fulfilled.Sources are- milk, curd, cheese, paneer, green leafy vegetables, peas, beans etc.If you are unable to consume so much of calcium rich foods then it is advisable to take supplements lest your bones become brittle and porous.
Iron and calcium should not be taken together as calcium inhibits iron absorption-Vitamin C helps iron absorption
Caffeine inhibits iron absorption
Iron causes constipation which can be relieved by increasing fibre and fluid intake-
There are solutions to the problems iron intake is causing, so ask your doctor.Not taking your supplement will only add to the problem
To conclude,it is best to take iron and calcium in pregnancy under the guidance of a qualified doctor.Iron tablets preferably after breakfast with lime water or orange juice and calcium after dinner.