The RhoGAM Shot
My blood type is A- which means that I lack the Rh antigen. Most people in the world are Rh+ (about 85% of the population according to http://americanpregnancy.org). Since I am Rh- and Chris is Rh+, then our child may also be born with Rh+ blood. If that blood mixes with my blood at all during pregnancy, problems could arise for me:
As part of your prenatal care, you will have blood tests to find out your blood type. If your blood lacks the Rh antigen, it is called Rh-negative. If it has the antigen, it is called Rh-positive.
When the mother is Rh-negative and the father is Rh-positive, the fetus can inherit the Rh factor from the father. This makes the fetus Rh-positive too. Problems can arise when the fetus’s blood has the Rh factor and the mother’s blood does not.*It mostly has to do with problems that could arise in my next pregnancy. If some Rh+ blood from this pregnancy mixes with my blood, my body will start to produce antibodies against that blood. If my next child is also Rh+, then my body will react accordingly and start to attack it....AKA: My body responds as if I'm allergic to the baby! I know: WHAT THE WHAT?! This was completely eye opening to me, and was something I had never heard of before.
If you are Rh-negative, you may develop antibodies to an Rh-positive baby. If a small amount of the baby’s blood mixes with your blood, which often happens, your body may respond as if it were allergic to the baby. Your body may make antibodies to the Rh antigens in the baby’s blood. This means you have become sensitized and your antibodies can cross the placenta and attack your baby’s blood. They break down the fetus’s red blood cells and produce anemia (the blood has a low number of red blood cells). This condition is called hemolytic disease or hemolytic anemia. It can become severe enough to cause serious illness, brain damage, or even death in the fetus or newborn. Sensitization can occur any time the fetus’s blood mixes with the mother’s blood.*My mother, who is also Rh-, went through the same thing with me: She actually refused to take the 28 week shot and decided she would take it after her pregnancy if it was needed. It turned out that I was born Rh- as well, so she did not need a rhoGAM shot because there was no risk to her or her future babies if our blood mixed. (Hi mom! Blood sisters 4LYFE!)
The 28 week shot is considered an "extra precaution" in case there is some trauma or incident that occurs in the next 12 weeks that could cause our blood to mix, which is very rare. It is a very small chance that this shot was needed at all, which is why I struggled with deciding whether or not to take it. I was really, really torn: I prefer as little medical intervention as possible (Heck, I'm refusing to even take so much as a Tylenol right now), and didn't like the idea of whatever was in this shot going to my baby. I struggled for weeks with the decision to take it now, or wait and get it when the baby is born if it was needed. It also was not covered by insurance because it's not deemed "medically necessary." How's that for confusing?
In the end, I decided to take it as that "extra precaution". There was no evidence that I could find of any negative effects to the fetus, so I took my prescription to CVS and $135 later, walked out with my very own RhoGAM shot....whoopee...
This shot needed to be kept refrigerated, and I brought it with me to my appointment with the nurse on Tuesday morning (My 28th week). I'm a baby with shots. I read online that this particular one can hurt. But it really wasn't bad at all. Seriously, the anticipation was so much worse than the actual shot. Chris held my hand and talked to me about his Miami sunburn, and it was over in 2 seconds. Easy peasy.
I also have to carry a card with me that states I am RH- and have been given the shot as of September 3rd. When I arrive to the hospital for delivery, I have to make sure to give them this card so they know that I will need a rhoGAM shot should my child have an Rh+ blood type. It's weird...I feel like this rare species that requires special medical attention and care due to my highly rare Rh- blood!
- If a woman with Rh-negative blood has not been sensitized, her doctor may suggest that she receive RhIg around the 28th week of pregnancy to prevent sensitization for the rest of pregnancy.
- If the baby is born with Rh-positive blood, the mother should be given another dose of RhIg to prevent her from making antibodies to the Rh-positive cells she may have received from their baby before and during delivery.
- The treatment of RhIg is only good for the pregnancy in which it is given. Each pregnancy and delivery of an Rh-positive child requires repeat doses of RhIg.
- Rh-negative women should also receive treatment after any miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or induced abortion to prevent any chance of the woman developing antibodies that would attack a future Rh-positive baby.*
Hallmark could probably capitalize on a few cards such as "Sorry to hear about your negative blood type" or "Sorry to hear your baby may be allergic to you." Or at least an e-card. Just saying...it's an untapped market!
Do you know if you have a positive or negative blood type? Have you ever heard of this before, or had to take the RhoGAM shot?
*All information cited from: Americanpregnancy.org