Pregnant women in resource-limited settings are highly susceptible to anemia and iron deficiency, but the etiology of postpartum anemia remains poorly defined. To inform the optimal timing for anemia interventions, changes in iron deficiency-attributable anemia through pregnancy and postpartum need to be understood. In 699 pregnant Papua New Guinean women attending their first antenatal care appointment and following up at birth and 6 and 12 months postpartum, we undertake logistic mixed-effects modeling to determine the effect of iron deficiency on anemia and population attributable fractions, calculated from odds ratios, to quantify the contribution of iron deficiency to anemia. Anemia is highly prevalent during pregnancy and 12 months postpartum, with iron deficiency increasing the odds of anemia during pregnancy and, to a lesser extent, postpartum. Iron deficiency accounts for ≥72% of anemia during pregnancy and 20%-37% postpartum. Early iron supplementation during and between pregnancies could break the cycle of chronic anemia in women of reproductive age.