CAN I DONATE BLOOD WHILE I AM BREASTFEEDING?
Dr. Jack Newman is a physician specializing in breastfeeding support and advocacy. He says any otherwise eligible mother who is not anemic can donate blood.
The American Red Cross accepts nursing mothers, they say ” Persons who are pregnant are not eligible to donate. Wait 6 weeks after giving birth.” –
The Canadian Blood Service does not allow breastfeeding mothers to donate blood in the first six months postpartum – https://www.blood.ca/en/blood/am-i-eligible/abcs-eligibility-donating-blood
In the UK you may donate whilst breastfeeding providing your baby is at least six months old –
LLL France have this resource on the subject –
The President of the Italian Blood Donor Association has said ‘we adopt the criterion of temporary suspension for six months after childbirth without any specific reference to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not a criterion of suspension but it is a condition that needs to be considered in donor mothers, who return to donate after six months after childbirth.’ Iron stores are a factor to consider –
LLL Italia have this information –
In Australia, you need to wait at least nine months and until your baby is significantly weaned (that is, getting most of his/her nutrition from solids) before you donate blood – https://www.donateblood.com.au/faq/breastfeeding
In the Netherlands the Blood Bank states ‘breastfeeding does not interfere with donating blood’. However, after giving birth they recommend someone should not donate blood for six months – https://www.sanquin.nl/veelgestelde-vragen/antwoord/medisch/mag-ik-bloed-of-plasma-geven-als-ik-borstvoeding-geef
In New Zealand, following pregnancy, the deferral period should last as many months as the duration of the pregnancy. The New Zealand Blood Service states ‘it is not advisable to donate blood while breast-feeding. Following childbirth, the deferral period is at least 9 months (as for pregnancy) and until 3 months after your baby is significantly weaned (i.e. getting most of his/her nutrition from solids or bottle feeding).’ –
Whether to donate blood is a personal decision. La Leche League recommends that you consult your health care professional and/ or the blood donor programme in your country and make an informed choice.
If you choose to donate blood while breastfeeding, you need to be very careful to stay hydrated. Human milk is 87% water, and a blood donation takes 16 ounces of blood from the body. This is a lot of liquid to replace. All blood donors are cautioned to eat a substantial meal before donating blood and drink large quantities of water afterward. After a donation, donors are advised to avoid heavy lifting with the arm used to donate (to prevent excessive bruising). This may be a consideration for parents who may not be able to avoid lifting and carrying their babies or older children.
Published January 2018, revised June 2020.