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Can You Donate Plasma While Pregnant?

It is very evident that a mother’s blood cells are vital for the growing fetus’s well-being. Plasma, or the liquid content of blood, delivers nutrients and removes the waste from the fetus. Even a minor deficiency of plasma can be harmful to the developing fetus.

However, people sometimes wonder, can you donate plasma while pregnant?

No, pregnant women cannot donate plasma. This is one of the absolute contraindications for donating plasma. This is because it presents a risk for both the recipient and the donor. Some of the risks that a pregnant woman may encounter include premature labor and delivery and low birth weight.

Continue reading this article to understand the risks of and guidelines for donating plasma during and immediately after pregnancy.

Table of Content

Is it Possible to Donate Plasma during Pregnancy?

No, it is not possible to donate plasma during pregnancy. Donating plasma while pregnant may cause a host of different problems. These problems range from mild to quite severe.

Plasma

Limitations on donating blood products during pregnancy do not apply solely to plasma; all types of blood donation are not permitted during pregnancy. So, if you want to donate, do it before conceiving. Or, you can donate plasma again starting approximately 3 months after your baby is born.

Many people recommend waiting longer, such as 9 months or longer after the baby’s birth, before resuming donating blood products. 

Why Should You Avoid Donating Plasma While Pregnant?

During the fragile period of pregnancy, some of the baby’s genetic material becomes mixed into the mother’s blood. This happens through the body’s placenta. As a result, Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) is produced and it can be dangerous for the recipient. 

A life-threatening condition known as Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI) is caused by HLA mismatch. For this reason, plasma cannot be donated by pregnant women or women who have recently been pregnant. 

Your plasma is the part of your blood that contains a lot of electrolytes. Electrolytes and protein are crucial for a pregnant woman to stay fit and avoid various health problems.

Below is a list of health problems that may be encountered by donating plasma during pregnancy:

Will Donating Plasma While Pregnant Cause Dizziness?

Yes, donating plasma while pregnant can cause dizziness.

Fluids, salts, and other nutrients are contained in plasma. These are crucial for maintaining the body’s alertness and healthy operation. An electrolyte imbalance may result from losing some of these chemicals via plasma donation. This may cause lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting.

Overall, it is also important to eat healthily and get proper nutrients during the period of pregnancy to avoid such problems.

Will Donating Plasma While Pregnant Cause Dehydration?

Donating plasma can also lead to significant dehydration. Plasma is comprised primarily of water (91-92%) and the remaining percentage is just solids such as minerals and proteins.

Therefore, donating plasma removes water from the body. During fragile periods such as pregnancy, this can cause significant dehydration. Staying hydrated is especially important in pregnancy. Pregnant women are advised to drink at least 8 to 12 cups of water every day. The human body may crave even more fluids than this to stay adequately hydrated during pregnancy.

Will Donating Plasma While Pregnant Cause Anemia?

Yes, some studies show that donating plasma while pregnant can increase the woman’s risk of anemia. 

Donors of whole blood and red blood cells (RBCs) are susceptible to iron deficiencies and iron-deficiency anemia. The risk of iron depletion seems modest because Source Plasma (SP) donors have their RBCs restored (returned to their bodies) after apheresis. So, plasma donation does not remove any red blood cells from the donor’s body.

However, SP donors can donate frequently, and it is necessary to monitor the iron status of frequent donors. People who donate frequently can become iron deficient. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, and therefore, donating plasma may lead to anemia and it is completely forbidden during pregnancy.

Will Receiving Plasma from a Pregnant Donor Cause Citrate Reaction?

Yes, you can have a citrate reaction while receiving blood from a pregnant woman. However, the pregnancy does not specifically affect the risk of this reaction.

A technician will inject a medication known as an anticoagulant into the blood collected in the plasma-separating machine during plasma donation. The majority of the citrate is retained within the machine, but some remains in the donated plasma and is therefore transferred to the plasma recipient. 

Citrate temporarily joins a limited number of calcium molecules together in the body. The majority of people don’t suffer any adverse effects from citrate because this effect is minor and short-lived.

However, blood transfusions of any kind, including plasma, pose potentially serious health risks. Your doctor should explain these risks to you before you receive any kind of blood products.

Will Donating Plasma While Pregnant Cause Bruising?

Bruising can be caused while donating plasma. At first, the bruising can look serious, but like any bruise, it will disappear over time. The bruises obtained from donating plasma are usually harmless.

However, donating plasma while pregnant is still prohibited because of the other risk that may affect the donor or the recipient.

Will Donating Plasma While Pregnant Affect the Baby?

As mentioned above, donating plasma may increase the chance of premature birth. Moreover, it can lead to iron deficiency and raises iron deficiency in the mother. Some reports have also stated that there is a chance that the child may face anemia and other health problems including both mental and physical problems.

Will Donating Plasma While Pregnant Cause Miscarriage?

The chance of miscarriage caused by donating plasma is low. However, as the amniotic fluid is produced by plasma and it protects the baby, there is a chance that plasma donation while pregnant can cause harm, and miscarriage is possible. 

Will The Recipient of The Plasma Suffer From TRALI?

Yes, the recipient can suffer from TRALI if he or she receives plasma from a pregnant woman. 

TRALI is one of the biggest concerns for blood transfusion among females. Likewise, receiving plasma from a pregnant person can be a major cause of the development of TRALI. It can be hard to predict which recipients will or will not experience TRALI.

When Can You Resume Donating Plasma?

The following table shows the availability period when you can resume donating plasma at a glance. 

Time of DonationRight After Delivery3 Months Postpartum6 Months Postpartum12 Months Postpartum
Is it safe?Not Safe Not SafeNot UnsafeSafe

Can You Donate Plasma Right After Your Pregnancy Ends?

No, you cannot donate plasma right after your pregnancy ends.  The reasons for this are that childbirth causes a fair amount of bleeding, which predisposes the mother to anemia. In addition, any antibodies formed during the pregnancy will not disappear immediately after a pregnancy ends. 

Can You Donate Plasma 3 Months Postpartum?

No. Most reputable  health organizations recommend waiting longer before donating plasma.  

First, during the first few months after delivery, there may still be nutritional deficiencies within the human body. Secondly, HLA antibodies formed during the pregnancy may still be present three months after delivery. So, donating plasma 3 months postpartum is not recommended. 

Can You Donate Plasma 6 Months Postpartum?

Yes, once a woman is six months postpartum, donating plasma becomes possible again. Any nutritional deficiencies are likely to have been resolved by six months postpartum. HLA antibodies formed during pregnancy are likely to have disappeared by this point. Six months postpartum is the absolute earliest that a woman can donate plasma after pregnancy, but many institutions recommend waiting a full 12 months.

Can You Donate Plasma 12 Months Postpartum?

Yes, you can safely donate plasma 12 months postpartum. Usually, a woman’s body recovers within 9 months and it is advised by the World Health Organization to wait 9 months before donating plasma. It is definitely possible to donate blood after 12 months unless the individual has any other medical contraindications to donating plasma.

Can You Donate Plasma While Breastfeeding?

Yes, donating plasma while breastfeeding is possible. However, it is still not possible during the first few months postpartum. You can find many women around the world who are donating blood while breastfeeding, at least six months after delivery.

Can You Donate Plasma After an Abortion?

No, you can’t donate plasma immediately after an abortion or after a miscarriage.

A woman whose pregnancy that ends in spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or a medically induced abortion still may have HLA antibodies formed during that pregnancy. These need to be allowed to clear before donating blood products becomes safe again.

What Will Happen if You Accidentally Donate Plasma While Pregnant?

It is possible for a blood center to forget to ask a woman about the possibility of pregnancy before allowing her to donate blood products. This may cause serious problems. Hypothetically, if someone donates plasma while pregnancy there may be many problems such as-

  • Anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Premature Birth
  • Low Birth Weight

As mentioned before, receiving blood plasma by a pregnant woman can also affect the recipient of the plasma. The recipient may be affected by the HLA antibodies that are present within a pregnant woman’s body. This can lead to problems including transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI).

So, what should you do if you accidentally donated plasma during pregnancy?

It is important to eat and drink to recover the fluids and nutrients lost during blood donations. This is even more important if you are pregnant.

  • Eat a snack and drink some fluids after donating.
  • Refrain from doing any vigorous exercise after donating plasma or other blood products. Foods rich in iron and protein are highly recommended after plasma donation; good sources of protein include fish, meat, beans, and nuts.

Additionally, please call the blood center and let them know that you accidentally donated blood while pregnant. If the blood has not been used yet, they may be able to track it down and make sure it is not used.

What are Some of the Things that You Can Donate During Pregnancy?

Although plasma donation is forbidden during pregnancy there are many other ways a woman can help society. Such donations will not only help society but the woman herself in many ways. Let’s find out:

Breast milk

Many babies are breastfed, and many more women would like to breastfeed, but they are unable to. Women cannot donate breast milk during pregnancy, because most women do not lactate during pregnancy. However, after delivery, women who have excess breast milk may be able to donate it to another family.

Some reasons a woman might have extra milk include:

  • The family chooses to use formula instead
  • The woman has a very high milk supply
  • The baby does not survive the neonatal period
  • The baby is allergic to milk

Donated breast milk can be immensely beneficial for babies who would have otherwise not received any breast milk.

Cord Blood Donation

Donating anything that would otherwise be thrown away can help us save lives. After your baby is delivered, the placenta and the umbilical cord can be harvested for cord blood. We can save a lot of lives with the kind generosity of mothers like you.

FAQs

Q: Do They Test for Pregnancy When Donating Plasma?

No, pregnancy tests are not done prior to donating plasma. However, the employee may ask various questions to assess a person’s risk, including the possibility of pregnancy. 

Q: Can You Donate Plasma While Trying to Get Pregnant?

You can donate plasma while trying to get pregnant but it’s better not to. It is recommended to not donate plasma due to future iron deficiency and the need for plasma during pregnancy.

Q: Can You Donate Plasma Between Blood Donations?

Yes, you can donate plasma if it has been at least 4 weeks since donating blood. However, it is preferable to wait two months. 

Conclusion

Pregnant women cannot donate plasma. This may endanger the recipient, the baby, and/or the donor.

Although you cannot donate plasma while pregnant or shortly after, you can donate plasma and help your community at a later date. Please make sure to wait the recommended amount of time, usually a year after your pregnancy ends. This ensures that your blood is safe to donate and will not cause harm to any recipients.

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