Is It Safe To Donate Blood When Pregnant?

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Your body’s blood volume increases to help cater to your increased oxygen and nutritional needs. Therefore, donating blood when pregnant may not be a very wise decision. Although you may have been donating blood for the noble purpose of helping humankind, at this juncture of your life, you need to help yourself and your growing baby before you are ready to help others. Read this post to know more about why pregnant women should not donate blood and when they may resume.

Why Can’t Pregnant Women Donate Blood?

The Red Cross discourages pregnant women from donating blood. You may feel this is unfair. But it is not some form of discrimination. Your body produces some extra blood during pregnancy. But you need this blood to sustain your baby’s life in the womb. If you go ahead and donate blood, you’ll be putting your and your baby’s circulation under stress.

There is no clear reason as to why a pregnant woman should not donate blood. But anemia is a big concern during pregnancy. And donating blood can make the condition worse (1).

Not just that. You are also not advised to donate blood till you are breastfeeding your baby. The Australian Red Cross has a waiting period of nine months after childbirth before you will be allowed to give blood. If you are continuing to breastfeed after this period, the blood bank may ask you to wait till your baby is off breast milk before you donate blood. This is because breastfeeding infants depend on breast milk for all their nutrient needs. Donating blood may deny her some of these essential nutrients. This nine-month waiting period is sufficient to replenish the iron content in your blood.

In the US, mothers are allowed to donate blood six weeks after delivery. But you need to think twice before you go ahead.

The only reason you may be allowed to give blood while pregnant is if your doctor thinks you might need blood transfusion during delivery. So, in that case, you’ll be donating blood to your future self!

Even if there is no apparent reason behind prohibiting a pregnant woman from donating blood, why risk it? Being pregnant may not be a handicap, but it is a tough job. You need to be at your healthiest to nurture the tiny flame of life growing inside you. And you’ll get poked by endless number of needles during your pregnancy. Why add another one? Yes, you want to help society. That is a noble thought. But can’t you wait for a few months?

Who Else Is On The List?

If you feel you are healthy and fit to donate blood, you’ll still be turned away from a blood bank. But don’t feel left out! There’s a list of people are cannot donate blood (2). You can’t give blood if:

  1. You are pregnant.
  2. You are suffering from cough and cold.
  3. You are currently on antibiotics.
  4. You had any infection in the last couple of weeks.
  5. You’ve had a tattoo or any other cosmetic treatment in the last four months.
  6. You have a family history of CJD (Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease) (3).
  7. You’ve received human pituitary extract as part of fertility treatment.
  8. You have hemophilia and have received clotting factor concentrates.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can donating blood while pregnant cause a miscarriage?

Donating blood during pregnancy is not known to cause miscarriage or pregnancy loss. However, it is advised not to make blood donations during pregnancy since repeated donations can cause depletion of maternal blood and other factors. There is an increased demand for blood and blood cells in pregnancy, so pregnant mothers are not ideal candidates for blood donations (4).

2. Do blood centers test for pregnancy?

Blood centers do not test for pregnancy. However, the healthcare providers can ask about pregnancy while taking medical and personal history before donating blood.

3. What happens if I donate blood while pregnant?

Blood donations in pregnancy can lead to iron deficiency and anemia. Most blood donors can develop iron deficiency, which leads to fatigue. Iron deficiency in pregnant women can be associated with poor maternal and neonatal outcomes (4).

4. How long after pregnancy can I give blood?

Breastfeeding mothers should wait six months after childbirth to donate blood. Women who had a miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy can donate blood after six weeks. Mothers who receive Rh immune globulin injections such as WinRho during pregnancy should wait six months to donate blood (5).

5. Can donating plasma while pregnant affect the baby?

Donating plasma during pregnancy is not recommended by experts due to possible side effects. It is recommended to wait six months after childbirth to donate plasma (4).

Pregnant women are advised against donating blood as the extra blood produced in their body during this period is necessary for the development of the fetus. It is of utmost importance that you take extra care of yourself during this crucial time, as your well-being is important for the well-being of your developing baby as well. Thus, the American Red Cross Society suggests that you wait for about nine to ten months after the delivery before you start donating your blood again.

Infographic: What Happens To The Body After Donating Blood?

If you are not pregnant and otherwise healthy, donating blood can seldom cause you any harm. Side effects are often short-term, and it may take some time to restore the body to a state before blood donation. You may keep this infographic handy since it contains blood donation’s benefits and adverse effects on your body.

what happens to the body after donating blood [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

References:

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Dr. Mona Hardas

(MD)
Dr. Mona Hardas is a practicing Ob/Gyn from Flint, Michigan, with over 20 years of experience in private practice. She is also actively involved in teaching medical students and residents as an associate clinical professor from MSU College of Human Medicine.  Dr. Hardas is interested in minimally invasive gynecology procedures, including laparoscopic hysterectomy, myomectomy, removal of adnexal masses, etc. Having... more

Sadiya Qamar

Sadiya is a writer and editor with a passion for writing about parenthood and children. Her focus areas are health, wellness, and beauty. For MomJunction, she writes on kids’ health and nutrition.  Sadiya believes in doing in-depth research and providing accurate information to help parents with concerns on their children’s growth and development.

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