While I personally didn’t experience this situation first-hand, today’s blog post is inspired by a friend who is walking through this right now. So, we are going to dive deeper into this topic to help give you a better understanding of how Rh incompatibility can affect fertility.
What does Rh incompatibility mean?
Rh incompatibility is a mismatched blood type between a pregnant mother and the baby she is carrying. At one time, it posed a serious medical problem for the baby. Today, Rh incompatibility rarely is serious or life-threatening, thanks to early diagnosis and treatment during pregnancy.
Rh factor is a protein located in red blood cells. People who have that protein are Rh-positive. It is said that most people are Rh-positive (85%). People without the protein are Rh-negative (15%). You inherit your blood type from your mother and father. If a Rh-positive baby’s blood passes to its Rh-negative mother during pregnancy (or delivery), the mother’s body will attack the baby’s red blood cells.
Typically, this is not a concern for a live birth with a first pregnancy. It poses a greater risk in later pregnancies. This is because the mother develops antibodies to attack Rh-positive blood types in future children. Thankfully, Rh incompatibility isn’t harmful to the pregnant mother. However, it can cause mild to serious medical problems for the baby.
Do I need the RhoGam shot during pregnancy?
When you are pregnant, one of the first things your doctor will do is check your blood type during your first visit. If you test Rh-positive, the shot isn’t necessary.
If you test Rh-negative and the baby’s father subsequently tests Rh-positive, your doctor will recommend that you get the RhoGAM shot, which is an injection of the medicine, Rh immunoglobulin, around week 28 of your pregnancy and then again within 72 hours of your baby’s birth.
Getting a RhoGAM shot is the best way to prevent any possible complications from Rh incompatibility. It protects your baby’s red blood cells from attack if her/his blood comes in contact with yours during labor and delivery by preventing the mother from developing certain antibodies that make them sensitized to Rh-positive blood.
It is often given to those who have experienced pregnancy loss to prevent future pregnancy loss. So be sure to have a conversation with your doctor if you have experienced a recent miscarriage.
Are there side effects or risks of the RhoGam shot?
The injection side effects are typically mild and may cause:
Mild soreness or swelling around the injection site
Mild fever and/or chills
There are more serious side effects that are rare but include a severe allergic reaction, back pain, problems with your urine, a rapid heartbeat, nausea, fever, trouble breathing, unexplained weight gain, swelling, fatigue, and yellowing of the eyes or skin.
Finding out that you and your baby may be Rh incompatible can be a little worrying. But the RhoGAM shot is a safe, simple, and effective way to stave off any potential problems -- both now and for future pregnancies and will not harm your baby.
Is there a link between being Rh-negative and miscarriage?
Being Rh-negative in and of itself does not cause miscarriage or pregnancy loss. You are only at risk if you have been sensitized. The risk is very small if you have the recommended RhoGAM shots during pregnancy, or after an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or induced abortion.
You will be tested to see if you have developed the Rh(D) antibody. If you lack the antibody, the pregnancy should not have any complications due to the Rh factor. Again, you will be given RhoGAM at the appropriate times to prevent sensitization.
Women with Rh activated antibodies are said to be Rh sensitized and once these antibodies are activated, they can never be deactivated until the woman dies. Rh-induced antibodies are activated in an Rh- woman by childbirth, abortion, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy.
Additional information to consider:
This condition is manageable and with the help of the RhoGAM injection, you can avoid complications during childbirth and deliver a beautiful, healthy baby. If you’re pregnant and your doctor determines that you’ve already developed antibodies against your baby, your pregnancy will be closely monitored. If you think you may be pregnant and have an Rh-negative blood type, you should talk with your doctor to determine the best plan.
NOTE: the injection is only very helpful if your body has not already developed the Rhesus antibodies. Detecting Rh incompatibility on time and taking the right medication will help you focus on other aspects of carrying your pregnancy to full term.
I am voting your victory. Please leave a comment below and I would love to pray for you on your journey.
- xoxo, Brandi