Rh Negative and Pregnancy

Blood can be classified according to A, B, AB, and O blood types, as well as by the Rh factor. The Rh factor determines whether you have an Rh antigen attached to your red blood cells. If antigens are present in your blood, you are Rh positive. Otherwise, you are Rh negative.

Over 85% of the total population have Rh positive blood. However, you need to understand the safety issues linked with Rh negative and pregnancy and know how to take preventive measures to keep problems at bay.

Is There Any Safety Issues Betwen Rh Negative and Pregnancy?

The term ‘Rh’ actually refers to the Rh factor, which is a protein that attaches itself onto the surface of red blood cells. Most people are Rh positive, which means that the Rh factor protein is present in their blood. Only approximately 15% of the total population lack this protein in their blood. These people are known to be Rh negative.

If you are Rh negative and pregnant, your immune system may react negatively to your child’s blood. Your immune system is responsible for monitoring your bloodstream and watches out for foreign cells that may turn out to be threats to your health. It identifies these foreign invaders according to the proteins on their surface.

Because your child’s blood is most likely Rh positive, your Rh negative immune system will not be familiar with the Rh factor proteins that will be present in your child’s blood. Hence, there may be a possibility that your immune system will attack your child’s cell. This complication is known as Rh incompatibility, and happens when your baby inherits Rh positive blood from his father.

This issue with blood compatibility only arises during your baby’s actual delivery. Before that, his blood system and yours are kept completely separate in your body. But once you enter labor, drops of your baby’s Rh positive blood may enter into your own bloodstream, causing your immune system to react. This may cause him to develop anemia, jaundice, or other worse medical conditions.

It is thus very important that you seek prenatal care as soon as you find out you are Rh negative and pregnant. Knowing whether there is a risk of Rh incompatibility with you and your baby will allow you to seek proper treatment and preventive measures, ensuring that you will not have any serious problems in the long run.

The following video explains very clearly the relationship between being Rh negative and health of pregnancy as well as how to treat this condition:

What to Do with Rh Negative and Pregnancy

Consult your doctor immediately so he will be able to monitor both you and your baby throughout your pregnancy. If your baby turns out to have Rh negative blood as well, then there should be no further problems. However, if your baby is Rh positive, you will have to undergo several tests that will allow your doctor to check up on your baby’s condition. These tests are meant to check on several things, such as your antibody levels or the breakdown of your baby’s red blood cells.

With an Rh incompatible pregnancy, the goal is always to try and have the delivery sometime during the 37th week. However, if your baby seems to be showing signs of distress and ill health, it may be necessary to have an early delivery. There may also be times when your doctor will proceed with an intrauterine transfusion for your baby.

Fortunately, these risks may very well be avoidable because new technology has made it possible for Rh incompatibility to be treated.

Prevent Problems with PhoGAM Shot

Your placenta may tear prematurely as your pregnancy nears its end. This will allow your blood and your baby’s to mix inside your body, causing your immune system to react and bringing your baby potential harm. To prevent this, a RhoGAM shot may also be given to you sometime during your 28th week.

A RhoGAM shot will be administered to you no more than 72 hours after you deliver your baby, when his blood leaks into your bloodstream. This shot helps avert Rh factor incompatibility by preventing your immune system from developing antibodies that will fight against the Rh factor contained in your baby’s blood.

Notes: The RhoGAM shot, although effective, is only a temporary remedy for Rh incompatibility. For every pregnancy you have, you will need to get RhoGAM shots, except when your baby is Rh negative, as well. You will also need the shots when you have a miscarriage or abortion.

Warning: Side Effects of RhoGAM Shot

Effective though it may be, the RhoGAM shot has been known to trigger negative side effects in some women. If you begin experiencing any of the following symptoms, it would be best for you to seek medical treatment immediately to prevent any further damage.

  • Hives
  • Headaches
  • Fever and chills
  • Pain in the back area
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Less frequent urination
  • Painful and sore muscles
  • Differences in urine color
  • Fatigue and lightheadedness
  • Tenderness in any injection sites
  • Sudden and unexplainable weight gain
  • Swelling anywhere on the hands, feet and ankles, or on the face, throat, tongueand lips

Experience and Advice from One Mom

“I have a family friend who is Rh negative and did not take RhoGAM shots to prevent Rh incompatibility between her and her babies. Unfortunately, she experienced many miscarriages, and even delivered one stillborn baby.

I myself also have Rh negative blood, as did my mother and grandmother. My mother was administered with RhoGAM shots when she was pregnant with first brother, and again with my second brother. Both of them did not suffer any side effects from the shots and are both very healthy.

Personally, I had to experience one miscarriage before being treated with RhoGAM shots for my next pregnancy. It was a horrible experience, and I hope never to have to go through it again. After I took RhoGAM shots for my succeeding pregnancies, I have no longer experienced any serious problems. Taking the shots may sometimes be cumbersome, but still worth it. Otherwise, the risks of my babies having anemia or being miscarried or stillborn increases dramatically.”