Blood donation helps save many lives. It is also considered good for the health of blood donors. Periodic donation of blood helps avoid excessive storage of iron in your system. It is known for its ability to recharge your body and is a sure way to help make more blood cells. But is blood donation a thing that pregnant women can do? Read on to know more about this.
Blood centers are mostly in perennial need of blood. People managing these centers need to maintain a stock of blood that meets at least three (3) full days’ requirements. Whenever the stock of blood on hand falls below required level, blood donors are reached out for needful donations. Over a single donation sitting of a donor, not more than half-liter or 500 ml is received. However, if you are donating blood products – such as plasma or platelets – the quantum of donation is solely based on your count of platelets, weight, height, etc.
Blood donation is an activity that presents you with a load of benefits. The act of donation can help manage your anxieties and is one great approach to boost your self-esteem as well as emotional health. Do you know every time you donate blood, you can save upto 3 lives? It may be more intriguing for you to know that some person in the US is in need of blood every three seconds.
The most significant of all benefits associated with blood donation is it can optimise the iron content in the body. Excessive iron is cited as a trigger for heart related disorders. Some clinical studies are exploring the role of blood donation in keeping your blood pressure level under control. However, soon after donating blood a few of the donors may experience a feeling nausea or drowsiness. This is considered as a common side effect. But these effects are temporary and can wear off after a few minutes. However, if you still feel dizzy even after consuming a meal and napping for a while, you may need to contact a medical center.
If you are opting to donate your blood, you are advised not to skip your meals. Take utmost care to consume food at the right time. Also, you are advised to drink a lot of fluids – i.e., both before and soon after donating blood.
The blood center may defer taking blood if it finds you are ineligible to donate blood. The common norms that govern deferral of donors are- consumption of drugs or any other substances through used needles, people who have tested positive for HIV (AIDS), men who have had a sexual intercourse with other men within the last 12 months, etc. Based on these norms, the medical center may defer a blood donation sitting either permanently or temporarily.
Pregnancy and blood donation
Women donate blood as much as men do. But, if you are pregnant, it is not recommended to donate blood. So, if you are in the habit of donating blood periodically, you may need to give a gap to your desire to donate blood.
The main reason for saying a no to donating blood during your pregnancy period is- you are going to need the blood in your system to keep your baby healthy. It is also a fact that during the time of pregnancy the quantum of blood your body makes stands increased. Clinical studies reveal your body may make about 45% more blood during the time of your pregnancy. But- as mentioned, you will need all this additional blood for your baby’s wellbeing as well as yours.
There is however not many clinical studies or medical tests to substantiate the risks of blood donation during pregnancy. In general, blood centers refrain taking blood from pregnant women. If you are trying to get pregnant, is it fine to donate blood at that time? The answer is a no for this one too.
It is simply not advised to donate blood while you are planning to have a baby in the near term.
This is because donating blood may reduce the iron content in your body. A drop in iron content in your system is not a good thing for your baby.
Donation of blood without knowing you are pregnant
Women who have made blood donation a regular habit may encounter this situation. Such women may have donated blood without knowing that they have a baby formed in them. There is hardly much medical data to confirm the repercussions. There are women who have had no problems with their deliveries and there are a few who have had miscarriages. There had also been instances of an accidental blood donation (without knowing that the donor is pregnant), and there had been a sense of nausea all through till the baby was delivered. There are however evidences of healthy infants being delivered by mothers who had accidentally donated blood. The best thing to do is to talk to your treating doctor (preferably, an obstetrician or gynaecologist) about what you can do about it.
Changes occurring to your blood flow during pregnancy
During the initial months of your pregnancy, you may find a fall in your blood pressure level. However, in the advanced months of your pregnancy, you may find an increase in your blood pressure. Your heart will need to work for two persons – i.e., your baby and you. The time before your pregnancy, flow of blood is fairly simple. But your pregnancy makes the flow of blood take an intricate and longer route. The placenta acts as a filter before your blood reaches your baby. While exiting, blood from your womb again passes through the placenta. This time, the placenta handles blood which contains waste collected from your womb. In essence, your blood will take a longer path and your heart will need to work a lot more to make it happen.
In a few rare instances, your doctor may make you to bank your own blood in anticipation. This is done whenever your doctor expects an increase in risk factors. These risks may need more blood to be transfused during the time of delivery. You will need to understand these are not common instances. If you are not sure of the advice offered, you can always take another opinion from a specialist about the need to bank some of your blood.
So how soon can a woman donate blood after delivery?
It is quite clear that you cannot donate blood if you are pregnant. As per established clinical associations, you may be able to restart donating blood after 8 weeks from the date of delivery. However, if you are breastfeeding the new-born, it is advised to further postpone donating blood for a few months more. In such an instance, you may have to wait for your baby to get weaned.
You will need to understand that delivering a baby may need a lot of work and hence the need for nutrients is more. It is hence natural that your body may need a longer time to come back to its normal state. On top of it all, your body may need all the essential nutrients – including iron – during this recovery period. So, it is better to understand your body’s needs before restarting to donate blood.
You can also help people by donating cord blood (the umbilical cord) soon after your delivery. However, this donation is done only if you have decided not to save it for future use in a cord bank. You are advised to know that blood retained in the cord can heal autoimmune disorders such as cancer, etc. You may need to consult with your physician as well as discuss with your family before making a decision to donate cord blood.
If you still wish to help people, you can think of other alternatives. For instance, you can consider extending financial help to blood centers. Your financial donation will help blood centers to give support to needy recipients by ensuring supply of blood from other clinical establishments.
In sum- if you are pregnant, you are not advised to donate blood. But, if you are in the habit of donating blood regularly, you may need to give a gap to your urge to give blood. Studies indicate your body makes nearly 50% extra blood during your pregnancy. You are going to need this extra blood for your wellbeing as well as your baby’s.