Stringent measures have been put in place in regards to blood transfusions. The relevant governing authority, Food and drug administration, has clearly outlined blood donation criteria. The blood donation requirements are set to protect the recipients and the health of the donors. So can pregnant women donate blood?
Before donation, the donor’s medical history and previous travel places, piercings, and tattoos are evaluated. Specific medical and physical conditions can predispose the donor to unhealthy conditions; therefore, the guidelines effectively ensure safety. Among the many people having medical restrictions to donate blood are pregnant women.
What happens if you donate blood while pregnant?
In the likely event that a pregnant woman donates blood, she is expected to face some medical complications in the course of the pregnancy since she is nurturing a life that is dependent on her nutrition. Physiological changes in response to the pregnancy result in increased blood volume, which corresponds to an increase in red blood cells. Blood donation will subject the women to iron deficiency anemic condition, which is unhealthy for your baby. Untreated iron deficiency anemia can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, and placenta disruptions. As a result of the anemic conditions, the placenta moves away from the uterus and this is dangerous to subsequent pregnancies.
- Inform your doctor of any transfusion
If you donate blood during your pregnancy cycle, it is essential to let your doctor know. The doctor is likely to recommend some medical attention and specific dietary changes such as increased consumption of fruits and green leafy vegetables. Have a good start to your day with a nutrient-dense breakfast.
There are many anemic cases diagnosed in pregnant women, which can be attributed to inadequate healthy red blood cells or inappropriate functioning. Pregnancy is known to create a high affinity for iron that is critical for fetal growth. To avoid iron deficiency, a pregnant woman needs approximately 350-500 milligrams, making up at least 50% of additional iron.
- After conceiving, you can donate blood
However, after conceiving, there are various recommended timelines to which the women can donate blood. The Red Cross recommends that you stay for at least six weeks before participating in any blood transfusion activity. According to World Health Organization, women can donate blood nine months after conceiving or three months after the baby stops breastfeeding.
- But it is not advisable to donate blood while breastfeeding
The world health organization warns against donating blood while breastfeeding because the infant relies on the nutrients from breast milk which is interconnected to the blood levels. Otherwise, you can opt to donate the umbilical cord and placenta. The blood from these organs has numerous applications in treating various conditions such as leukemia, lymphoma, bone marrow failure, and sickle cell disease. Meaning with a simple donation you can be saving a life.
Alternatively, some medical practitioners prefer when you are pregnant to bank some blood for yourself during the second trimester of your pregnancy, just in case it is a high-risk pregnancy or delivery.
Instances of unknowingly donate blood while pregnant
There are instances where pregnant women can unknowingly be involved in a blood transfusion since most blood centers do not test for pregnancy. Instead, they base their selection criteria on the medication being taken by the donor, medical and travel history. The blood centers also check other basic vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and hemoglobin levels. To avoid such accidental blood transfusions, women are encouraged to donate blood during the first fourteen days after their menstrual cycle as this is when they are least likely to be pregnant.
What can pregnant women do if they cannot donate blood?
Failure to be among the blood transfusion eligible group should not discourage pregnant women from participating in the noble initiative of saving people’s lives. There is a lot more than what meets the eye in the blood donation campaign.
- Consider some volunteering
You can decide to volunteer and work in blood donor services. Donating blood is usually the first instance we think of when we see a blood drive, but when pregnant this choice is a little limited. But your efforts don’t have to stop here, how about volunteering your time if you are not able to donate some blood.
- You can be and ambassador or advocate
Secondly, you can opt to be advocates or ambassadors for blood donation through sensitization of the community, your colleagues, friends, and family about the shortage of blood in the blood banks and why there is an urgent need for blood transfusion.
- You can organize your community
Additionally, you can organize a blood drive that entails reaching out to the community. The smallest efforts to the initiative make a big change.
The benefits of donating blood
There is a beneficial aspect that comes with being regularly involved in blood donation.
- According to a study done in 2013, there is a decreased level of cholesterol in regular donors.
- Moreover, compared to non-donors, donors were found to have a reduced risk of heart-related complications.
- The protective effect on cardiovascular diseases was many prevalent in female and frequent donors.
- Blood donation has also been found to be critical in weight loss as you can be able to burn around 650 calories per donation.
- Lastly, it is beneficial to reducing high blood pressure and hypertension.
One last thing, can pregnant women donate blood?
Even though pregnant mothers would want to be involved in a good deed of helping save lives, they cannot be involved in blood transfusion. It is however advisable to wait for at least three months after the baby is weaned off breastfeeding for the mother to go back to donating blood. With the high number of people needing a blood transfusion, a single donation can save up to 3 lives. The donated blood can be used for several reasons, such as surgical procedures, anemic conditions, childbirth, and blood disorders. Pregnant women and other individuals that do not meet the eligibility criteria can use other voluntary means to save people’s lives. Besides enhancing physical health, blood donation can have a positive effect on mental and emotional health.