As a 10 time O neg blood donor, I have had many a trial and error with blood donation. I have had good experiences and bad, and I wish to share so you all can have nothing but good!
Considering giving blood even once can save up to 3 lives, it is so worth it to give. I like to think if I ever needed it, I would hope there would be enough blood on hand to save me. Also studies have shown there are quite a few health benefits associated with giving blood. Read on for some tips and tricks of donating blood and living to tell the tale.
Disclaimer: please consult your doctor before following any of the suggestions below.
1. Drink 1-2L of water, 1-2 hours before donation
This is the most important tip. If you do nothing else, do this.
I showed up once having had very little water that day and the nurses literally poked me incessantly in both arms with the giant donation needle that if approximately the circumference of my finger (jks it’s not but it still sucked). To anyone who complains about vaccination needles which are about as thick as a hair – you don’t know what you’re talking about. They finally declared they couldn’t find a vein and it hurt me so much, I literally went out to my car and cried. Not to mention I was left with massive bruising on my arms for over a week. (Not trying to scare anyone, just trying to highlight how important drinking enough water is before donation).
However, when I did drink enough water, a vein is found on the first try, I hardly felt anything and had no bruising. It makes a HUGE difference.
2. Take an iron supplement
Not having high enough iron to donate can be a problem especially with menstruating women and frequent blood donors. Your hemoglobin (iron level) has to be at least 125 to donate.
Recently I went in and my iron was 114. I was therefore denied and couldn’t donate that day. They told me it would take at least 6 months to get my iron back up but I made the next possible appointment I could in 56 days because I was that confident I could bounce back. I made sure I had my iron pill, lots of spinach and iron-rich foods for the next 2 months and my iron was 131 the next time I came in. #win
A lot of people seem to be fearful they will take to much iron, and by all means you should only take only the prescribed amount as outlined by the bottle or your doctor/ pharmacist. But a lethal dose of iron is about 3270mg and considering the average iron pill contains 35mg, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
3. Eat a meal 1-2 hours before donation
This is important to not feel faint and your blood sugar to be at an appopriate level to donate.
4. Don’t workout for 8 hours afterward
I liked to push the limit on this previously, thinking a little blood donation can’t stop a strong healthy gal like me. But you become tired much faster than usual and pushing yourself can cause diarrhea due to dehydration not to mention potentially fainting. Instead, I try to workout earlier in the day before I donate so I have nothing to worry about.
5. Make an appointment so you can prepare
Make sure you read the fine print and know that you qualify to donate. Some illnesses will disqualify you as well as if you have had certain vaccinations or tattoo/piercings within the past 6 months. Look up these details so you don’t end up being turned away!
Also, knowing you are going in at a certain time means you can make sure you eat and drink enough water throughout the day to have a successful donation.
6. Have a juice/ pop and a snack afterward
They always offer you snacks and considering you have just lost 15% of your blood volume, take it. Even if you are dieting, you need it replenish your blood volume and get your blood sugar back up. Also, Canadian Blood Services has the BEST chocolate cookies of all time, so don’t miss out on that.
7. Don’t be fooled by next day weight loss
It may be exciting that you randomly lost a couple pounds overnight but it’s just blood volume loss/ water weight and you will be back to normal within a couple days.
Hope this helped anyone who is considering donating and if you have more questions check out the Canadian Blood Services website, call, use their super easy app. If you are not from Canada, please consider contacting your local blood clinic to donate!
Let me know your best blood donation tips and experiences in the comments below!
Happy donating 🙂