Donating blood or plasma saves lives. While not everyone can donate blood, those who are healthy and able to donate do need to prepare before donation. Once you’ve made your appointment, gotten time off work, and are all set to give blood, be sure to follow these tips:

The Night Before

Twenty-four hours before donating blood, you’ll need to avoid any kind of strenuous exercise, meaning leg day might have to wait. While your body is resting, it is much easier to reproduce and conserve fluids-- and you’ll need a lot of fluids. It is best to stay as hydrated as possible the night before donating blood and to eat healthy foods that will prevent you from feeling too lightheaded after the donation process. Foods high in iron, like red meat, spinach, beans, and eggs, can help increase hemoglobin levels, while foods high in vitamin C are great as well.

The Day Of

On the day of your appointment, make sure to continue drinking plenty of water. Typically, it is best to drink 500 mL of water immediately before donating, but this may not be possible for some people. Just like the night before, avoid any strenuous exercise as well.

 

In preparation for your appointment, you’ll need to wear loose-fitting clothing. Shirts that you can easily roll up past your elbow are ideal, as are light jackets and comfortable pants. It may also be best to bring a friend or someone who can drive you after donation in some cases. Before you head out, make sure your hands are clean and that you have your appointment information written down. You will also need to provide any medication information, including over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, and nutritional supplements. Some places may also require ID for blood donations as well.

During the Appointment

During your appointment, it is best to distract. Regardless of how “tough” someone may be, getting blood drawn is stressful, and it’s normal to feel nervous before, during, or after donating. To help distract, consider talking your nurse’s ear off or clenching your muscles in an exercise known as AMT. The exercise consists of repeatedly tensing and relaxing the muscles in a specific area of your body during donation.

After Donating

After donating blood, it’s normal to feel a bit woozy. Because of this, you’ll have to sit for about 15 minutes at the donation facility, so doctors can monitor how you’re feeling. After the observation period is over, you’re free to leave. This doesn’t mean you’re completely done, however. After donating blood, your body needs to replenish its supply. To do so, be sure to drink extra fluids, and eat some fruit to get your blood sugar up. Avoid any strenuous exercise, and be sure to keep your bandage on for at least 24 hours. Take this time to rest, congratulate yourself for getting through a blood donation, and for helping others!

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