Christian Doulas

Pre-natal Fatigue


I once heard a pregnant Mama describe her tiredness like this:

"Fatigue is eating my lunch like some bully on the playground."

And often our tiredness that first trimester, when all our energy is going into growing a placenta, or the tiredness of the last trimester, when we are lugging around all that weight and Baby is growing like crazy, seems more than we can take.  If you are an older Mama, particularly over 40, the fatigue can be so intense that you spend nine months on the couch, thanking your husband over and over again for taking on the chores you used to do effortlessly.   There are many causes of tiredness: low iron count (see suggestions in box below), trying to keep up with your former efficiency when your body needs to rest, dehydration, and improper nutrition and exercise. 

Try to drink more water, eat better food,  take a good iron supplement, sneak in naps in the afternoon, and above all, Keep in prayer to the One who sees all you are going through, and is completely sufficient to carry you through this time of fatigue and innervation. 

Remember, Isaiah 40:2:

"He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength."

Iron Boosting

Floradix is the best supplement we've found for boosting iron count in pregnancy.  It can be costly, but is worth the price, if you can afford it.  It's often available at local health food stores; if not, order it online at their webstore.  Some women have switched to using Spa Tone, which is a water-based iron supplement.  It costs the same as Floradix, but lasts longer, so is more economical.

Ways to Increase Iron through your Diet

DIETARY IRON – Is needed for blood manufacturing due to the increased blood volume of mother and for baby.  The oxygen-carrying component of blood is dependant upon iron.  The baby also stores iron in the liver for postpartum life.  It is important for iron to absorb properly within your diet that you never take iron rich foods or supplements near any dairy products or sweets.  Also include vitamin C rich foods and drinks with your iron rich foods and supplements, because Vitamin C helps your body absorb and process iron.




Food                                                                                Serving Size                     MG. Iron      

Clams, canned and drained                                                           1 cup                                44

Dulse seaweed, dried                                                                  1 oz.                                42

Pumpkin seeds, dried                                                                 1 cup                                33

Kelp seaweed, dried                                                                   1 oz.                                28

Pork Liver                                                                               3 oz.                                15

Dates, dried                                                                             5 each                              15

Oysters, simmered eastern                                                           3 oz.                                11

Sesame seeds or wheat germ                                                        1 cup                                10

Molasses, black strap                                                                 2 Tbsp.                             10

Sunflower seeds                                                                        1 cup                                9

Soy beans (cooked), Chili and beans, or pork and beans (canned)             1 cup                                8

Pistachio nuts or Cashews (dry roasted)                                            1 cup                                8

Spirulina, dried                                                                         1 oz.                                8

Pine nuts                                                                                3 oz.                                7

Chicken livers, fried                                                                   3 med.                              7

White beans, Lentils, or Spinach, cooked                                           1 cup                                6

Apricots                                                                                  1 cup                                6

Kidney, beef, cooked                                                                  3 oz.                                6

Mussels, steamed                                                                      3 oz.                                5

Liverwurst, pork                                                                        3 oz.                                5

Beef Liver                                                                               3 oz.                                5

Thyme, dried                                                                           1 Tbsp.                             5

Peaches, dried                                                                          10                                   5

Almonds, dried whole                                                                 1 cup                                5

Kidney beans, cooked                                                                 1 cup                                5

Dates, dried                                                                             5                                     5

Brazil nuts                                                                              1 cup                                4

Garbanzo beans or Lima beans, cooked from dry                                 1 cup                                4

Whole wheat flour                                                                      1 cup                                4

Calf’s liver                                                                              3 oz.                                4

Refried beans, pinto beans or black-eyed peas, cooked                          1 cup                                4

Figs, dried                                                                              5                                     4

Filberts or Raisins                                                                     1 cup                                3

Prune juice, bottled                                                                    1 cup                                3

Shrimp, boiled                                                                          1 cup                                3

Squash, winter (cooked)                                                              1 cup                                2

Potato, baked                                                                           1 whole                             2

Chickweed, Mullein, or Thyme                                                       1 gram dried                       2

Lean Ground beef                                                                      3 oz.                                1

Eggs, cooked                                                                            2                                     1

Red Raspberry leaf, Dandelion Root, or Yellow Dock                             1 gram dried                       1



When there is a shortage of red cells in the blood or a deficiency of hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying pigment) in these cells, anemia can occur. If this takes place, the body doesn't get enough oxygen, and weakness and fatigue result. Although symptoms may not appear - or may be very mild - for a long time, the condition can be life-threatening if it is left undiagnosed and untreated. And it can be very dangerous during pregnancy and should be controlled prior to delivery.

A woman entering labor in an anemic state could suffer from postpartum hemorrhage, which is a dangerous and life-threatening condition. Should you suspect that you may be anemic, or if you are pregnant, it's essential that you see your health care provider for proper lab work and testing. Treatment will vary, depending on your situation, but you should know that anemia is treatable and with a good healthy diet plus supplementation, you can fix the deficiency of hemoglobin and increase the red blood cell production within your circulatory system.

Iron deficiency, the most common cause of anemia, usually results from a gradual, prolonged blood loss, which depletes the body's iron stores. Without enough iron, hemoglobin levels fall. Menstruating women, particularly those with heavy cycles, are prone to iron-deficiency anemia. However, men and women can develop iron deficiency from any condition that causes slow bleeding-including long-term hemorrhoids, rectal polyps, or ulcers; stomach or colon cancer; or prolonged use of aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. It is often a result of a lack of iron consumption within the diet as well, because we have relied upon false advertising in many foods where added iron is listed. Less common is anemia that results from a deficiency of vitamin B12 (in which case it's called pernicious anemia) or folic acid. Both nutrients are essential to red blood cell production.

Alcoholics, smokers, people with certain digestive disorders, vegetarians, those over age 50, and pregnant or lactating women are the most likely to be at risk, either because of poor nutrition or an inability to absorb these nutrients properly. Other forms of anemia can be traced to chronic illnesses (for example, cancer, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis); hereditary disorders such as sickle-cell anemia, or exposure to toxic drugs, chemicals, or radiation.

Some good herbs to help boost iron counts:

§ Yellow Dock Root: One of the best-known natural iron building herbs available and it actually helps constipation (unlike most iron supplements). It promotes the flow of bile and has that somewhat obscure action of being a " blood cleanser'. It also acts on the gall bladder giving it a role in the treatment of jaundice.

§ Nettle Leaf: Contains nearly every vitamin and mineral necessary for human growth and health. Abundant in vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and sulfur. Nettle contains more chlorophyll than any other herb, which is important to purify and clean the blood, guard against anemia, help gently relieve constipation, and is extremely nutritious. Nourishes and strengthens kidneys so as to help facilitate the increased demands of the mother’s blood cleansing during pregnancy. Nettle prevents hemorrhage due to its high vitamin K content, and its astringency and nourishing action helps to reduce hemorrhoids by tightening and strengthening blood vessels.

§ Dandelion Leaf: Prevents and corrects anemia as it is a great source of folic acid and iron.

§ Alfalfa: Is rich in minerals and helps you to relax. It is known as a "super food" because it has a significant source of protein and ten different vitamins including A, C, D, B2, niacin, B6, G and E. It also contains the following minerals: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron and trace minerals. Because it is high in calcium and iron it is extremely important during pregnancy and the childbearing years. It is also high in Vitamin K, which is the body’s blood clotting agent, and a mother needs this to eliminate hemorrhage.

§ Peppermint: Is a great digestive aid, which allows the body to assimilate other herbs and absord them more readily into the circulatory system.

§ Lemon Grass: Has analgesic (citratus), antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. It also works well to improve circulation.


(with thanks to Doran and for original.)

What Causes Anemia in Pregnancy?

Typically a mother's blood is tested at her first or second prenatal appointment. One of these tests (hematocrit) measures the percentage of red blood cells in your plasma. The other (hemoglobin) measures the number of grams of hemoglobin in your blood. Women typically have another blood test early in the third trimester. It's normal for your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels to go down somewhat in the second half of pregnancy, when the amount of blood in your body is expanding dramatically and the amount of plasma (the fluid component of blood) increases faster than the number and size of red blood cells — but we prefer that they not dip too low, as we wish for all homebirthing mothers to have optimal health. Fortunately, there is much that a mother can do naturally to build her body’s reserves before the time of birth.

If you are experiencing headache, cramping, tiredness, insomnia, restless legs, or non-food cravings, please be sure to let me know, as these can all be signs of anemia that must be treated before birth.

There are many types of anemia, but the two that most commonly occur in pregnancy are:

Iron deficiency anemia - During pregnancy, the fetus uses the mother's red blood cells for growth and development, especially in the last three months of pregnancy. If a mother has excess red blood cells stored in her bone marrow before she becomes pregnant, she can use those stores during pregnancy to help meet her baby's needs. Women who do not have adequate iron stores can develop iron deficiency anemia. This is the most common type of anemia in pregnancy. It is the lack of iron in the blood, which is necessary to make hemoglobin - the part of blood that distributes oxygen from the lungs to tissues in the body. Good nutrition before and during pregnancy can help to prevent or resolve iron anemia.
Vitamin B12 deficiency - Vitamin B12 is important in forming red blood cells and in protein synthesis. Women who are vegans (who eat no animal products) are most likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency. Including animal foods in the diet such as milk, meats, eggs, and poultry can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency. Strict vegans usually need supplemental vitamin B12 by injection during late pregnancy.

Supplements that we encourage you to use (all can be found at health food stores or Whole Foods Markets):

Take Floradix+ B Vitamins 1-2 times per day, as directed on the bottle
1/4 cup Liquid Chlorophyll
Take Yellow dock root tincture as directed on the bottle (3-4 times daily)
Dandelion and Yellowdock tinctures daily, alternating days
Lots of orange juice (ideally not from concentrate) to help with iron and B vitamin absorption; If you don't like orange juice, take a Vitamin C supplement with Rose hips twice daily or eat strawberries and bell peppers daily
Homeopathic Ferrum-phosphoricum 6x. She should take 2 pellets a day for two weeks
Drink nettles tea daily
Take alfalfa tablets as directed on the bottle daily
Beet root tablets

Foods that we want you to be regularly eating until birth, include:
Be sure that you are eating at least a little protein at every meal and snack
Keep in mind that your body absorbs the iron from animal sources (heme iron) much more readily than the iron from non-animal sources (non-heme iron)
Cook in an iron skillet if you have one
Meats - beef, pork, lamb, liver, and other organ meats; Large amounts of liver should not be eaten in the first and second trimesters. Twice a week is fine in late pregnancy. Pork and lamb liver is richest in iron, but any kind will do. Red meat is your best bet, although poultry (dark meat), other meats, and shellfish are good sources, too
Poultry - chicken, duck, turkey, liver (especially the dark meat)
Fish - shellfish, including clams, mussels, oysters, sardines, and anchovies
Leafy greens of the cabbage family, such as parsley, kelp, spinach, broccoli, kale, turnip greens, and collard greens
Legumes, such as lima beans and green peas; dry beans and peas, such as pinto beans, black-eyed peas, and canned baked beans
Yeast-leavened whole-wheat bread and rolls, Brewer's yeast (dietary yeast supplement)
Eat non-animal iron-rich foods including beans, tofu, raisins, dates, prunes, figs, apricots, red potatoes (leave the skins on), broccoli, beets, leafy green vegetables, whole-grain breads, blackstrap molasses, and iron-fortified cereals
Eat foods high in folic acid, such as wheat germ, beans, peanut butter, oatmeal, mushrooms, collard greens, broccoli, beef liver and asparagus
Very little dairy.-if you must drink milk, please ask me how you can find raw milk; drink milk separate- not with these supplements or with meals
Eliminate caffeinated beverages (and no decaf coffee)

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       Christian Doula

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