Can You Donate Blood While Pregnant or Breastfeeding?

“Blood- it’s in you to give.”

“Blood- it’s in you to give.”

That’s the motto of the Canadian Blood Services.

Blood and blood products are essential to everyday medical care; it is used for major surgeries, cancer treatments, managing diseases and other medical procedures. According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood. And approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day.

Donating blood is a relatively small act that can have life-changing consequences for someone in need.

So, the question is, can you donate blood while pregnant?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. You cannot donate blood while pregnant.

While pregnant the amount of blood in your body increases by about 50%, but you need all that to keep you and your baby healthy. Your body is doing a lot of extra work, and that requires a lot of extra blood.

So, throughout your pregnancy your motto should be “Blood- it’s in me to live.”

Can you donate while breastfeeding?

You can donate blood while breastfeeding, but only after a certain amount of time after giving birth. The length of time depends on where you are.

For Canadians, you must wait six months after giving birth before you are eligible to donate blood, whether you are breastfeeding or not.

For Americans, you only have to wait six weeks after birth to be eligible.

What else can you do?

If you are pregnant, or haven’t had enough time post pregnancy to be eligible to donate blood (or maybe you just can’t stand the thought of big needles- I hear you), there are still other things you can do to help.

  • Donate money– cash donations are always appreciated and go towards a variety of programs and initiatives. From building new clinics, to enhancing blood donor experiences, a little money can go a long way.

Americans, you can donate here

Canadians, you can donate here

  • Donate time– volunteer at a blood donor clinic. You don’t have to be wielding a needle to be of use at a clinic. You can simply be there to greet donors with a smile, make conversation, or be a hand to squeeze and a comforting presence to make the donation process a little easier. A key reason a donor will return is often the care and attention they are given during their donation visit.

Not only will you have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped make a difference, you can also develop new skills and grow your network.

Americans, you can sign up to volunteer here

Canucks, go here

  • Donate cord blood- “give life twice” by donating cord blood after your baby is born. Cord blood comes from the umbilical cord and placenta, and is rich in stem cells that can help save the lives of patients with diseases and disorders such as leukemia.

For more information on donating cord blood, Americans can go here

Canadians can go here

  • Encourage others- you may not be able to donate, but there are plenty of other people you know who can. Encourage your friends and family to donate as often as they can.

Especially you Americans- I don’t want to brag or anything, but Canadians have you beat in the donation department. We’re among the most loyal donors in the world, donating more than two times per year, whereas less than 10% of the eligible American population donate even once.

No pressure, Americans, but who knows- today we’re beating you with blood donations, tomorrow the Blue Jays may win the world series.

Other Information

Here are some other things you may need to know about donating blood:

If you received a blood transfusion while pregnant, or at any other time, you must wait 12 months before you are eligible to donate.

In America and Canada, if you miscarried or terminated your pregnancy, you must wait 6 weeks before you are eligible to donate.

For more information, please visit the American Red Cross, or Canadian Blood Services.

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