# Hematocrit Low in Pregnancy
Hematocrit, or Hct, is a measure of the amount of red blood cells in the body. During pregnancy, it is important to monitor the hematocrit of the baby and mother for several reasons. A low hematocrit during pregnancy can indicate an underlying health problem and should be addressed immediately by a healthcare professional.
## What is Hematocrit?
Hematocrit is the percentage of a person’s or fetus’s total blood volume made up of red blood cells. It is typically expressed as a percent. The cells are counted using a mechanical device or optical microscope. Normal values for hematocrit vary between person and are typically between 40-54%.
## Why is Hematocrit Important During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the body undergoes several changes, especially in the circulatory system. These changes can cause fluctuations in the hematocrit. Low hematocrit can lead to anemia, which can put the mother and baby at risk. A low hematocrit in the first trimester of pregnancy is especially concerning as it can indicate insufficient nutrition or an underlying health problem such as anemia or hypothyroidism.
## Symptoms of Low Hematocrit
The most common symptom of low hematocrit is fatigue. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, pale skin, headaches, dizziness, and weakness. Low hematocrit can also lead to premature birth and low birth weight in babies.
## Diagnosing Low Hematocrit During Pregnancy
The doctor will perform a physical exam to rule out any underlying conditions. A complete blood count will also be taken to measure the hematocrit levels. The doctor may also order other tests to rule out any other underlying conditions such as anemia or hypothyroidism.
## Treatment for Low Hematocrit
The treatment for low hematocrit will depend on the cause. If the cause is anemia, the doctor may prescribe iron supplements to increase the body’s production of red blood cells. If the cause is a vitamin deficiency, the doctor may give injections of the appropriate vitamins to increase hematocrit levels. Other treatments may include diet modifications and lifestyle changes.
## Taking Care of Low Hematocrit During Pregnancy
It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and take the necessary precautions to maintain a healthy hematocrit level during pregnancy. Here are some steps you can take:
* Eat a balanced and nutritious diet that contains plenty of iron and other essential vitamins and minerals.
* Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
* Exercise regularly and get plenty of rest.
* Avoid stress.
* Follow your doctor’s instructions and take medications as prescribed.
Low hematocrit during pregnancy is a serious condition and can put both mother and baby at risk. If you are pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant, make sure to speak with your doctor about your hematocrit levels and follow the appropriate steps to maintain a healthy hematocrit level throughout your pregnancy.
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