Rh Factor – The Truth About Rh & Pregnancy
(Rh Factor or Rhogam – click here for an updated post) and for an explanation of what Rh means, click here
A friend of mine did alot of research regarding the RH Factor, being Rh positive and Rh negative and what that meant for her pregnancy, her baby and her next birth (s). She was 28 weeks pregnant and preparing herself to tell the doctor that she was refusing the RhoGAM shot (and the 36 week shot). She could feel herself being watched by the office staff as she waited for her name to be called, wondering if they were thinking she is a horrible mother by possibly putting her baby in danger or if they wished that they had the confidence to make their own medical decisions when it contradicts the doctors recommendation….
It is her choice to decline the prenatal injections of anti-D immunoglobulin (also named: BayRHo-D, Rhogam, Gamulin Rh, HypRho-D Mini-Dose, and others) and to wait for the baby to be born before deciding to take the RhoGAM shot.
She had thoroughly researched the subject of Rh Factor before making this choice and had the support of her husband. Even though it was a battle explaining it to the doctor and even to her friends, the evidence was well-grounded.
Okay, So What Is Rh- negative Blood?
Everyone is born with a specific blood type.
RH- negative blood is human blood with out the rh factor. You are either born with or without the ‘rh factor’.
If you DO have the rh factor, you are considered Rh+ positive and there is nothing to worry. You have zero need for any RhoGAM or similar shot.
If you are Rh- negative, read on so that you understand what other mothers are talking about when they say they are rh negative.
Here is a good article explaining more about the Rh Factor.
But if you do NOT have the Rh factor in your blood then you are Rh- and it could cause complications. For example, if your blood type is A+ or B+ you are Rh postitive. If you are A- or B- , you are Rh negative. Your Rh- blood recognizes the Rh factor as an intruder to your bloodstream and begins to attack it (form antibodies against it). If your baby is Rh+ and IF your blood mixes with your baby’s blood, then your body could view your baby as a foreign invader and begin attacking the Rh factor in your babies blood.
What Is The Risk?
This all sounds scary, but reading this info will alleviate your fears.
There is only harm if you are Rh negative and your baby is Rh positive AND the baby’s blood mixes with your blood. There are ways to prevent the bloods to mix. You have 72 hours after your baby is born to find out it’s blood type. If the baby has a positive type (and you are negative) only then will you need to make a decision of whether or not to get RhoGAM.
(If you are negative and the baby is negative – you are home free. Nothing to worry about, no need for the RhoGam shot, because your body has accepted the baby’s blood as ‘normal’)
But in reality, the chances your baby’s blood mixing with yours is very slim. During healthy, normal pregnancies, your blood and your baby’s blood do not mix.They flow side by side, separated by a membrane. No antibodies are made by your body as long as there has been no trauma. Trama can be anything from a bad car accident, miscarriage, amniocentesis, direct fall on your belly late in your pregnancy, or chronionic villi sampling (CVS) OR premature umbilical cord clamping. All interventions can cause the baby’s blood to mix with your, that is one of the reasons why natural and intervention free pregnancy and delivery is important. Allow your plancenta to be delivered on it’s own, not torn away from your uterus.
The RhoGam Shot
The RhoGAM shot is very similar to a immunization or vaccination and it may contain thimerosal (same as mercury) which is toxic. RhoGAM puts a small amount of antibody into the mother’s body, attempting to “fool” her body into thinking that the problem has been taken care of. RhoGAM is blood plasma from a donor’s blood and has been cleaned but may still contain viruses and/or bacteria that could cause diseases, rare, but possible. Personally, I think it’s a bit disturbing to have someone else’s blood injected into my body!
Remember, Rhogam must be given within 72 hours of the trauma, when your blood and the babies blood may have mixed. After 72 hours the body will have begun making its own antibodies and the RhoGAM won’t work.
What Are Drawbacks With RhoGAM?
Doctors must admit that the 28 and 36 week dose is simply given at a random. Are they hoping that it may protect some babies even though there is no reason for trauma to have happened at 28 or 36 weeks?
RhoGAM is made from human blood plasma (as are all anti-D preparations.) It’s highly filtered, but it is still a human blood product. Some side effects besides it being someone else’s blood, include swelling and inflammation. Hives and anaphylactic effects are among more severe side effects.
Two Rh- parents will have a Rh- baby and there is NO RISK. Pregnant women who are Rh- and whose partners are Rh+ must weigh carefully the risks and the benefits of each RhoGAM injection. If a baby’s blood is attacked by Rh antibodies, the newborn will have Rh disease. This is most likely to happen with the baby coming after a mother is sensitized. According to the March of Dimes almost all babies born with Rh disease will be cured, but it is still a very serious condition requiring a lot of intensive care.
The routine, 28 week injection of RhoGAM is NOT the best way to protect babies from Rh disease. There’s only a slim chance that any major “trauma” will have occurred during the 72 hours before the injection.
Do I Have The Freedom To Refuse RhoGAM?
A woman is free to reject or accept any combination of RhoGAM injections. If a woman chooses not to have RhoGAM, there are steps she can take to make it more likely that her blood and her baby’s do not mix.
An excellent prenatal diet is very helpful for ensuring the placenta and baby are developing well and that all systems interact the way that they were meant to. Drinking plenty of good water, drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea during your second and third trimester, avoiding refined sugar and eating 60-80 grams of protein daily will make help improve you and your babies health. (there are several online resources for Red Raspberry leaf tea in bulk)
A natural, intervention free birth is the best birth for an Rh- mother wishing to avoid RhoGAM. A completely natural birth gives the lowest risk of maternal and fetal blood mixing.
The third stage of labor is possibly the most vital part of labor to keep natural. Allow the placenta to separate naturally and be born gently. Contractions will help the placenta to shear cleanly off the surface of the uterus and continued contractions will seal off the blood vessels. Allowing the baby to nurse immediately after birth helps your uterus contract and expel the placenta. If the placenta has fully separated, very gentle cord traction may bring it out.
It’s very important to wait for the cord to stop pulsing before it is cut. This allows the blood to flow into the baby’s body. Early clamping and cutting can cause the babies blood to mix with the mother’s blood. If the placenta has been born, then there is no opportunity for the babies blood to get into the mother’s blood – and you are safe.
Check this site out about why it is harmful to save (bank) your babies umbilical cord blood.
In Rh neg women, many people believe that it is the clamping of a pulsing cord that causes the blood of the baby to mix with the mother’s blood, causing sensitization problems. Robert S Mendelsohn, M.D., in his book “How to Have a Healthy Child. . . In Spite of Your Doctor” blames the whole Rh neg problem on too quick clamping of the cord. Especially in Rh neg mothers it is importatnt to wait until the placenta is out before thinking about cord clamping.
Blood can be drawn from the umbilical cord to determine the baby’s blood type.
If the baby is also Rh negative, there is zero need for RhoGAM.
Postpartum RhoGAM decisions can be made after the baby’s blood type is discovered. Seek to have a healthy pregnancy and be fully informed before consenting to having any foreign substance (RhoGAM) injected into your body. Do this for you and your baby’s health.
There now is a new way to determine your baby’s blood type without any invavise procedures. Find out if your baby is Rh positive here. Lenetix® Medical Screening Laboratory, Inc. 174 Mineola Boulevard Mineola, New York 11501 Ph: 516 320-6375