Are you pregnant and dread the pricks you may need now? Do you know some vaccinations play a critical role in safeguarding your health and your baby’s development during pregnancy? Well, if you can relate to the above situations reading this post is a good idea.
You need to undergo endless blood tests and scans during pregnancy to monitor your baby’s progress and to rule out any health complications. Have you heard about Rh incompatibility and RhoGAM shot? If you are clueless fret not! Read on to know all about this shot and learn how it helps you enjoy a safe pregnancy!
What Is A RhoGAM Shot?
The generic name of RhoGAM is Rho (D) immune globulin. Rho (D) immune globulin (Rho (D) IG) comprises of human blood. It is a sterilized solution (1).
Depending on the manufacturing company, RhoGAM shot (by Johnson & Johnson) is available by different names. They include:
- MICRhoGAM (Johnson & Johnson)
- Rho (D)
- Gamulin Rh
- Mini-Gamulin Rh
- HypRho-D Mine-Dose
- Rhesonativ (Octopharma)
- Partobulin SDF (Baxter)
- WinRho SDF (Cangene)
Who Needs A RhoGAM Shot?
At the start of your pregnancy, you will need to undergo a few blood tests. These tests help to determine your blood type and Rh status. If your blood type falls under Rh negative (A negative, B negative, O negative or AB negative), your body will develop antibodies against your Rh positive baby. If this is your first pregnancy, you or your developing baby may not be at much risk. However, if this is a second or later pregnancy, the condition may adversely affect both your health and your baby’s growth (2).
The only time when you will not require a RhoGAM shot is if the father of the baby is also Rh negative.
[ Read: Flu Shot During Pregnancy ]
When Is The RhoGAM Shot Necessary?
On the basis of your partner’s blood type, your doctor will advise whether you need the shot or not. If this is your first pregnancy, your doctor may refrain from giving you the shot. It will depend on how your pregnancy is progressing (3).
If your doctor deems it mandatory for you to take the shot, he may advise you to do so during the 28th week of pregnancy. Certain situations that can mix your baby’s blood with yours are:
- A loss in your previous pregnancy
- Trauma to your abdomen
- Any pulling of the placenta or the cord after the birth.
- Amniocentesis or CVS
- C-section delivery
How Does Taking A RhoGAM Shot During Pregnancy Help?
The term Rh positive refers to people who have Rh in their blood. On the other hand, the term Rh negative refers to people who do not have Rh in their blood (4).
Caucasians are more likely to have Rh negative blood (5). About 15% of the population lacks the Rh proteins. Some people believe that lack of Rh proteins indicates alien heritage.
If you are Rh negative, you may develop Rh incompatibility (6) during pregnancy. It can happen if the baby in your womb is Rh positive. During pregnancy, your baby’s blood can enter your blood stream especially at the time of delivery. In such a situation, your body will treat your baby’s blood as a foreign substance and react against it. The RhoGAM shot while pregnant can help prevent Rh incompatibility.
[ Read: Rh Factor Test ]
Does A RhoGAM Shot Have Any Side Effects?
Some common side effects of the RhoGAM shot during pregnancy include: (7)
1. Mild Side Effects:
Side effects that are less serious and may not need medical intervention (speak to your doctor about it to check whether you require an appointment):
- Pain in the muscles and joints
- Headache or dizziness
- Weakness or fatigue
- Skin Rashes
- Mild itching, pain or tenderness around the site of the shot.
- Nausea, vomiting, stomachache or diarrhea.
[ Read: TDAP Vaccine During Pregnancy ]
2. Serious Side Effects:
Get in touch with your doctor immediately or reach a medical emergency unit in case of the following symptoms:
- Swelling, sudden increase in weight, inability to pass urine or very less urine output.
- Fever with shivering, sudden chills, pain in the back, dark urine.
- Pale skin, bleeding or signs of bruising very easily, heart palpitations, difficulty in concentrating.
Can You Find Out Whether Your Baby is Rh Negative Before Delivery?
If your partner is also Rh negative, then your baby will also be RH negative. You can get a blood test done to find out the Rh status of your partner.
Recently there has evolved a fetal Rh D genotyping test that gives almost 99% accurate results in the first trimester. It is performed by taking a sample of mother’s blood (8).
Is There A Possibility Of One Test Showing Rh +ve And Another Rh -ve?
The D antigen is usually said to be mosaic. Few individuals have only some parts of mosaic, therefore said to be partial D. If a partial D blood encounters the blood of a Rh D positive, the immune system reacts to the parts of mosaic they don’t carry in the blood.
Some other individuals who are Rh negative will have a full mosaic pattern. They should not make any anti-D since they have all the parts of the mosaic. Earlier, individuals with weak D were said to be Rh positive, but recently, some studies again proved them to consider as Rh negative. It is because they could have a small reaction, and this reaction was autoimmune.
Rh Negative And Sensitization – What Happens?
The antibodies cross the placental membrane during the delivery process and may attack the Rhesus proteins present in the baby’s blood. It can, therefore, cause many problems ranging from mild jaundice to severe hemolytic disorder. It can cause the death of the baby as well. But, nowadays, a great proportion of babies are surviving from rhesus conditions with the advancement in medical care.
Firstborn is not affected unless the mother is sensitized before pregnancy through a blood transfusion or miscarriage. But, if sensitization occurs in the early pregnancy and is not treated, rhesus condition can take place.
Chances of Sensitization
Some of the potentially sensitizing events are:
- The delivery process
- Abdominal surgery such as C-section
- Abdominal trauma from any serious fall or a car accident
- Breech repositioning
- Obstetric procedures like fetal blood sampling, amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling
- Partial molar pregnancy
- Ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage
- Blood transfusion
Natural Ways To Prevent Sensitization
There are always best natural ways for any lethal condition. All you need to do is to use them properly. Some natural ways that help prevent blood mixing between the mother and the baby include:
- Consuming nettle tea and red raspberry juice throughout the pregnancy phase, and especially during the third trimester reduces the chance of blood mixing during the delivery. It is because they help in toning the uterus and make it strong.
- You should not take fluoride containing water or non-organic tea during pregnancy as fluoride interferes with collagen production. The placenta connects sto the uterus with collagen fibers.
- You should include a healthy pregnancy diet that is helping in protecting against blood mixing.
Speak to your doctor at the beginning of your pregnancy to know more about your Rh status. Once you complete your blood tests, schedule an appointment and see if you require a RhoGAM shot. Discuss with your doctor in detail about the pros and cons of the RhoGAM shot.
Did you test Rh negative during your pregnancy? Were you given a RhoGAM shot? Do share your experience here with other moms.
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