Why Can't You Donate Blood While Breastfeeding?

Why Can’t You Donate Blood While Breastfeeding?

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Donating blood is a selfless act that benefits millions of patients. Donated blood is used to treat life-threatening illnesses and aid in tricky surgeries. Many patients rely on blood donated by friends, families, and strangers.

However, blood donation is not as simple as donating clothes or toys to a thrift store. Donors undergo screenings and tests before they are allowed to donate blood. Some individuals are not allowed to participate due to complications that can endanger them and others.

Breastfeeding mothers are in complicated territory. While some centers may allow nursing moms to donate, others might tell you to wait for a few weeks or months. So is it allowed to give blood while nursing, or is blood donation one of the many things not permitted during your breastfeeding stage?

Why Can’t You Donate Blood While Breastfeeding?

While it is possible to donate blood while breastfeeding, many blood centers and doctors will discourage you from immediately doing so post-partum. According to the World Health Organization, mothers should wait 9 months post-pregnancy before donating blood. It is also advisable that your baby is weaned and is already consuming solid food.

However, rules can change depending on where you are in the world. For instance, the American Red Cross allows donations from mothers 6 weeks after giving birth. Meanwhile, the Canadian Blood Services and the NHS from the UK advise mothers to wait for 6 months post-partum.

But why the strictness when it comes to breastfeeding mothers? This usually comes down to the safety of the mother donating blood. First and foremost, childbirth leads to blood loss, and mothers need time to recover after the procedure.

Mothers also need to consider their milk supply. Breast milk consists of 87% water, and you essentially lose that water if you choose to make a donation. Moms need to be careful since donating blood may impact their milk production.

Iron deficiency and anemia are other concerns for breastfeeding mothers. Mothers need plenty of iron since their levels deplete during pregnancy and childbirth. Low iron levels can cause many unwanted side effects and leave a mom feeling weak and dizzy.

Nevertheless, if you are in good health while breastfeeding, and your doctor gives you a go signal, you may donate blood. As long as you are prepared, you should have no issues throughout the procedure.

How to Be Prepared Before, During, and After Blood Donation

Preparation is the key to a successful blood donation procedure. Many people fear donating because it might hurt or cause many side effects. But rest assured, with some research, you will not feel scared or worried about the needle.

Before donating your blood, make sure your body is in peak condition. Some tips include:

  • Avoid donating blood if you are sick with a cold, flu, or infection.
  • Eat an iron-rich meal, drink plenty of water, and have a good night’s rest before your big day.
  • Be as honest as possible during your screening. The staff must know about your health and medical background to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Do not forget to bring your own water to the appointment to stay hydrated.
  • Once the procedure is done, relax, replenish, and have a snack. Do not immediately get up and do strenuous activities.