Iron Infusions during Pregnancy
What is an iron infusion?
An iron infusion is a special type of iron supplement given through a drip into your arm. The infusion used here at Sidra is called Ferinject®. It is not a blood product or a blood transfusion.
Why do I need an iron infusion?
Your doctor might recommend that you have an iron infusion because your blood tests show you are anemic. Anemia is caused by low levels of iron in the blood. Iron is used to make hemoglobin – the part of our red blood cells that carries oxygen around our body. If left untreated it can cause problems for you and your baby.
When you are anemic, you might experience:
- Tiredness or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Fast heart beat
- Poor concentration
Anemia in pregnancy is common and easy to treat with iron supplements. The most common way to treat iron deficiency is to take iron supplements by mouth as a tablet. This works well for most people and is usually tried first. Some people may need iron to be given straight into the body through a drip instead.
How can I get an Iron Infusion treatment?
Your doctor will schedule an appointment for you to attend the Antenatal or Gynecology Unit at Sidra Hospital. Your appointment will usually take around 3 hours. Sometimes two iron infusions (at least 1 week apart) are needed to raise your blood iron level.
What to do before the infusion?
Stop taking any oral iron supplements for at least 2 days before the infusion.
What to expect on the day of the iron infusion treatment?
- You can have your breakfast and lunch. You do not need to fast for this treatment.
- Take all of your regular medications
- A doctor will see you and explain the procedure when you arrive for your appointment
- A nurse or a midwife will insert a drip into your arm or hand and monitor you throughout your stay
- The infusion treatment usually takes around 15 minutes but you will be asked to stay for at least 30 minutes afterwards to make sure you are well
- You can resume your usual daily activities after the treatment
What to expect after the iron infusion treatment?
- You should not start taking oral iron supplements for 7 days after your iron infusion
- Your doctor will arrange a blood test to recheck your iron levels two weeks after your treatment
What are the side effects?
Ferinject® is considered safe to use after the first three months of pregnancy and after your baby is born. Very little amount of Ferinject® can cross into breast milk so you can safely breastfeed after having an iron infusion.
Mild side effects might occur in 10% of patients and include:
Headache, dizziness, rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle cramps, diarrhea, constipation, abnormal liver function, flushing, low or high blood pressure or reactions at injection site.
Side effects can start 1 to 2 days later and usually settle down by themselves over the next couple of days. If they worry you or interfere with your daily activities come to the Obstetric Triage Unit at Sidra Hospital for medical review.
Rare Side effects may include:
1. Allergic reactions (in less than 1% of cases):
- Your nurse or midwife will monitor you closely before, during and after the treatment.
- Tell your nurse or midwife immediately if you feel unwell or notice any swelling of the face, mouth or tongue.
2. Permanent skin staining which occurs if some of the drug leaks out of the vein at the drip site (a rare complication):
- Your nurse or midwife will flush salt solution or saline into your drip before the infusion starts.
- Please let the nurse or midwife know if you feel any pain or burning sensation at the drip site during the infusion.
When do I call for help?
Seek urgent medical attention or call 999 If:
- You have chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Neck / mouth swelling
You should not have an iron infusion if:
- You have anemia caused by deficiencies other than iron deficiency (for example B12 deficiency)
- You have ever been told by a doctor that you have “iron overload”
- You have ever had an allergic reaction to iron given to you through a drip
- You have ever had problems with your liver such as hepatitis
Sidra Medicine cares about your health. The information in this leaflet should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and the advice of your doctor. Ask your healthcare provider about this information if you have questions. You can find us online on www.sidra.org