First things first, thank you for your commitment to sharing the magic red stuff. Donating blood is truly a life-giving gift.
But what happens if you have a baby on the way? Can you donate blood while pregnant?
Whether you’ve been a longtime donor or are exploring this kind of giving for the first time, you’re right to wonder if this is a safe activity right now.
So, can you give blood while pregnant, or should you wait until your baby is born?
Let’s dive in.
Can you be a blood donor if you are pregnant?
Is it safe to donate blood while pregnant?
The simple answer is no.
Even though your blood volume increases during pregnancy, you still don’t have any to spare right now.
Donating blood puts you at a higher risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia—a condition where your blood doesn’t have a sufficient supply of healthy red blood cells.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body and, if your major systems don’t get the oxygen they need, it can affect your health and the development of your baby.
Anemia is already very common during pregnancy, occurring in up to 25% of pregnant women. It can also be very dangerous.
As explained in this medical review, anemia can be passed on to your unborn baby, increasing the chances of premature birth and low birthweight.
Added to this, there is a significant link between anemia during and after pregnancy and your risk of developing postpartum depression. (Here’s a recent study that delves into the details.)
If you are feeling weak and dizzy, have a rapid or irregular heartbeat, and are feeling short of breath, it’s worth checking in with your healthcare provider. Other symptoms of anemia include chest pain, pale skin and nails, and cold extremities.
(For ways to keep your iron intake up while pregnant, head here for your ultimate pregnancy grocery list.)
So, in sum, no, it’s not a good idea to donate blood while pregnant because it puts you at a higher risk of anemia.
Why do they ask if you’ve been pregnant when donating blood?
Not only is it not advisable to give blood while pregnant, but it’s also best to wait til at least a few weeks after your pregnancy ends before you give blood.
The Red Cross requires a six-week wait after your pregnancy ends before you give blood.
Other organizations recommend even longer. The World Health Organization recommends that you wait for nine months before donating blood.
They also warn against donating while you’re breastfeeding.
This is all in order to protect your body’s resources while you recover from birth and nurse your child, if you are breastfeeding.
Can you donate plasma while pregnant?
Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood, and accounts for about 55% of its makeup. Unfortunately, the same rules apply here.
You won’t be able to donate plasma until after your pregnancy.
One option you do have is cord blood donation.
After your baby has been safely delivered, cord blood that would otherwise be discarded as medical waste is collected from the placenta and umbilical cord.
Cord blood is rich in stem cells and can be used in the treatment of various life-threatening diseases and disorders.
If you are interested in donating cord blood, talk to your doctor or midwife to find out if it is possible in your area.
What will disqualify you from donating blood?
Some of the other reasons you might not be able to give blood?
- You weigh less than 110 lbs.
- You have, or have had, health conditions, including certain types of cancer, HIV, and hepatitis.
- You are on, or have recently been on, particular medications, including antibiotics.
- You’ve had a blood transfusion in the past.
- You recently had a tattoo or piercings.
- You inject drugs.
Donating blood and pregnancy: the bottom line
Right now is not the time to be donating blood—but the very fact that you want to makes you awesome.
You will be able to help out again, as well as pass on this spirit of giving to your child.
All the best for the rest of your pregnancy. ❤️
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