blood donation during pregnancy

Donating Blood During Pregnancy

Read our article for everything you want to know about what blood donation during pregnancy can cause and why should you avoid it.

There is always a need for blood, period. The American Association of Blood Banks, also known as the AABB, states that each day approximately 32,000 units of red blood cells are needed. Those who need and use this supply are people undergoing surgery, accident victims, trauma victims, and those who need treatment for leukemia, cancer and sickle cell disease, as well as other diseases. Because the best, most viable supplies of blood come from donors, it is to donors that the AABB turns to in an attempt to fill this need.

While there is always a need for blood, there are some people who are discouraged from donating. This includes those with blood borne diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis, and those whose bodies are undergoing stress, recovery or change — such as blood donation during pregnancy.

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Blood Donation and Pregnancy

Pregnant mothers take very good care of themselves in order to keep their babies, themselves and their bodies healthy. But regardless of how healthy a pregnant woman is, they are asked to keep their blood to themselves. “The American Red Cross asks moms not to donate blood during pregnancy,” says Madeline W., a former employee in American Red Cross. “Mother and baby must take first priority. Women should avoid donating blood during pregnancy because it depletes them of iron and other nutrients that are needed for the baby. It is true that pregnant women could develop anemia if they donate blood, due to the iron depletion.”

Check our another article about iron deficiency during pregnancy : Iron Deficiency in Pregnancy: Symptoms and Treatment 

Sally H., a nurse from Morgantown, Kentucky, has been a regular blood donor since she turned 18. “My mom was a nurse and now I am too, and we both know how much blood is needed every day,” she says. “I guess I took it pretty hard when I got pregnant and was told I could not donate until after giving birth. But I understood why and just planned on getting back to the Red Cross as soon as I could.”

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When Can You Do It?

While blood donation during pregnancy is not recommended, Madeline states that women can plan on donating soon after giving birth — and should do so. “Mothers can donate blood to the Red Cross six weeks after delivery while they are healing,” says Madeline. “Additionally, breastfeeding does not disqualify you as a donor either. Women can safely donate blood just as often as everyone one else — every six to eight weeks — the entire time she is breastfeeding. And, as there is always a need for blood donations, it is a great idea to get back into the routine of donating regularly as soon as you can.”

To learn more about breastfeeding : Breastfeeding During Pregnancy 

Other Ways to Help

In addition to donating blood to the American Red Cross, pregnancy offers another option for women to help those in need as well. “Pregnant moms may wish to donate their umbilical cord blood to help vulnerable patients in need,” says Madeline. “Cord blood is a ‘biological resource’ because it is a good source of transplantable blood-forming cells. These cells give rise to all other components of blood — red blood cells that carry oxygen, white blood cells that boost immunity and platelets that help blood clot — and are responsible for continuously replenishing the body’s blood supply

“I’ve heard of cord donations before, but never really knew what it was,” says Betsy Burton, a stay-at-home mom. “A friend of mine told me that she was donating her cord blood after delivery to make up for not being able to donate blood while pregnant. She told me all about it, as I didn’t really understand. I’ve decided to donate my cord blood with my current baby, too. I just want to help.”

Blood donation during pregnancy is not a good idea as mom’s blood volume is working for both mom and baby. However, making a plan to donate as soon as possible after delivery will not only help get you back into the routine of regular blood donation, but may also help save a life. “The American Red Cross has a motto of ‘Donating Blood — The Gift of Life,’ and it’s true,” says Madeline. “When you donate blood, you are helping to save or sustain life. But if you are pregnant, focus your energy, your time and your blood on the life inside of you first. We’ll wait.”

Our articles are prepared to give advice. Always consult your doctor first for any problems and exact information.

The names of the people mentioned in the article have been changed for security reasons and to protect privacy.