Why Do Women Need A Blood Transfusion After Birth?

A blood transfusion is a procedure whereby someone else’s blood (with your blood type) is pumped into your body via an IV drip.

In the third trimester of your pregnancy, you are likely to be asked about your energy levels quite a lot. In the same breath, your iron levels will be monitored as low levels can be a reason for a lack of energy and a feeling of weakness. Your doctor can assess your iron levels by sending you for a routine blood test which will then report on the Iron levels in your blood.

A lot of doctors will recommend that a pregnant woman takes an iron supplement during pregnancy as a general rule. They may do this as a precaution even if low Iron levels are not assumed. This is because in later pregnancy your iron levels naturally diminish which can leave you in a more vulnerable position going into the great task of giving birth to your baby.
If your diet is rich in Iron and you are feeling well your doctor may have no concerns about your Iron levels but they can easily be checked at the maternity hospital during a routine blood test, There are certain things which can be done to raise those levels in preparation for the birth. One such option is an Iron supplement which can be taken orally. Some women find that they can cause some undesirable symptoms such as constipation but the need for a high Iron level going into birth takes priority in this case.
Another option is a blood transfusion during pregnancy. A blood transfusion is a procedure whereby someone else’s blood (with your blood type) is pumped into your body via an IV drip in a bid to increase both the volume and iron levels of your own blood. In some cases, an iron transfusion may be offered during the pregnancy rather than a blood transfusion. This can be administered after the third month of pregnancy.
There are quite a few reasons why high Iron levels are important going into the birth of your baby regardless of whether your baby is born vaginally or via a caesarian section. During the birth of your baby, a certain amount of blood loss is to be expected. In many cases, blood loss can be greater during a Caesarian section but there is no general rule when it comes to any birth. Bleeding also occurs after the birth and can happen for several weeks requiring a sanitary towel to control it.   
During the birth, there is a risk that the woman could experience a hemorrhage. This very heavy bleeding can lead to anemia and make the woman extremely ill weakening a person’s breathing and heart functioning. For this reason, a hemorrhage can pose a fatal risk if it is not dealt with immediately. In this case, a woman may be given an emergency blood transfusion to replace the blood that she has lost. Her consent will be required and this is a question that will more than likely be asked early in your pregnancy.
Not all post-partum blood transfusions happen immediately after the birth though. While on the postnatal ward a woman may begin to feel light-headed, weak and short of breath. In this case, a blood transfusion may be offered to replace some of the hemoglobin that was lost during the birth and many women very quickly feel an improvement in their energy levels. They may notice that a headache or weak spell passes after the transfusion is administered.

All blood that is administered during a blood transfusion is highly screened and monitored for any viruses and is considered to be very safe.

To naturally increase the Iron levels of your blood you can ensure that your diet has plenty of red meat, eggs and green vegetables.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at  www.loveofliving.ie.


Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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