"Your blood type is A negative, so you'll have to get the Rhogam shot at 28 weeks,"
said the nurse.
I said this not even thinking to ask what that all meant, not even curious about it and just assuming it's normal (I was just on cloud nine from seeing my first ultrasound). This was before I really started researching and worrying about what I did and didn't put into my body.
Fast forward to almost twenty weeks later and the reminder of this shot keeps coming up.
"You'll get your orders for your shot after your blood work comes back from the gestational diabetes test."
Finally I believe it was then that I asked,
"okay so what is this shot for again?"
MIND WAS BLOWN.
Before we go into the nutshell about rH negative blood types and pregnancy, let's just start by saying that it sounds way worse than what it is. It is classified as a high risk pregnancy (as they told me the second go around), but because of the amazing shot -- there's nothing really high risk about it.
The thing about learning about being an rH negative pregnant mama, is that for a few minutes you feel like your mind just got blown. You feel like you're the only person in the world like this and you start thinking about how you know NO ONE else with this issue (until you discover your sister in law is the same and it's a total sigh of relief). Which is the reason for this post, to help those out who are currently Googling all of the deets on this mind blowing subject (and to hopefully calm them down).
What is the rH factor?
People are either rH positive or rH negative, with the positive people having an rH antigen on the surface of their blood cells. Most people will inherit the rH antigen from their parents, however some don't. What's an antigen? It's a protein and that's about as far as I understand.
I'm not a doctor.
So what does being rH negative mean during pregnancy?
When an rH negative mother carries a baby that is rH positive, there's a chance that small numbers of the baby's blood can cross into the mother's blood sometime during pregnancy and/or delivery and this combination will cause the mother to produce antibodies against the other blood. In other words, your body will see the baby as a foreign invader and try to fight it off. This can result in your body producing immunity against your own baby and any future children that you may carry with the rH factor present.
How is it treated?
Blood work that is done later in the pregnancy (around 27 weeks) determines whether or not your body has started making any antibodies against the baby (which wouldn't normally happen until the last three months of pregnancy). According to my own research, if this blood work shows you've already made antibodies against the antigen, then the shot that is administered is ineffective. Which of course leaves me sitting here wondering what the heck happens next... Apparently, the bloods have a battle in there which can result in anemia for the baby, jaundice and in severe cases it can cause heart failure for the baby. Your body would then naturally try and get rid of any future pregnancies with the rH factor present.
However if that is not the case, you'll receive the Rhogam shot to prevent your body from making any antibodies in case your baby is rH positive. Once your baby is born, their blood type will be determined and if they ARE rH positive, the mother will receive a second dose of the shot. If the baby is rH negative like mother (my case with baby number one), then there's no need for a second dose.
And that's it.
But you have to repeat the blood work and shots for each and every pregnancy.
So is it serious?
Yes, I guess in actuality it is. But honestly because of one shot (a preservative free shot -- woohoo) your baby and body are safe. I'm not a shot happy person and I'd be lying if I told you this was an easy shot...I'll be straight up and say this is the most painful shot I've ever had to get (they leave it in for a bit). But at the end of the day, I'm so incredibly grateful to science and to doctors who have made these discoveries that are simple fixes to things that could be serious.
I'm not one to think that each and every thing a doctor says is "100% accurate" and I'm also aware that I'm the only advocate for my own body. I hate hearing
"oh you need this shot, and your baby needs these shots"...and so on.
Sometimes all of the shots are just overwhelming, but sometimes we just truly need them. But in this case, I'd just like to say thank you to the person who put it all together and has helped rH negative people have healthy pregnancies and babies.
And to you, the pregnant mama who may just have had your own mind blown by the same information from your doctor...there's not much to worry about. You'll get a shot that hurts like a mother, and while yes it's an unfortunate situation when you think about the reality of it all, it's really just a piece of cake in this whole pregnancy thing. And it turns out you're not alone as many women are administered this shot every day and more babies are being born rH negative than in the past. As nice as it is to know that your daughter is rH negative (meaning you don't need another shot), it kind of sucks knowing she'll have to do all of this too one day to have children.
But I'll sit through a bad shot any day to continue having healthy babies.
Amen to that.
How many rH negative mamas had their mind blown
with this information during their pregnancy?
For more information:
HOW DOES RHOGAM® ULTRA-FILTERED PLUS WORK?
Ultra-Filtered PLUS is a sterile solution that contains antibodies to the Rh factor. The antibodies are derived from human plasma. When RhoGAM
Brand is injected into the muscle of an Rh-negative mother, these antibodies circulate in her bloodstream and protect her against any Rh-positive red blood cells from the fetus. Her immune system then sees no need to take further action.