Expecting mothers need to undergo blood tests and scans that seem endless during pregnancy. These tests and scans are significant to monitor the baby’s progress, to rule out any fetal health complications, and to evaluate the overall progression of pregnancy. However, do you know that there are some vaccinations that play a vital role in protecting mother’s health and the baby’s development during pregnancy? Continue reading to know everything regarding one such vaccination that is administered during pregnancy – RhoGam shot.
What Is A RhoGam Shot?
RhoGam shot, also called Rho (D) immune globulin, is a sterilized solution, which is comprised of human blood plasma. This shot is given to a mother to prevent the development of antibodies against the Rh-positive baby. It is given to prevent Rhesus disease or hemolytic disease of newborn due to Rh incompatibility.
Who Needs A RhoGam Shot?
The RhoGam Shot is administered if the blood group of the mother falls under the Rh-negative category.
- This shot is administered within 72 hours after the first delivery to prevent complication in future pregnancies
- The shot is administered after a miscarriage or termination of pregnancy
- There may be certain situations where the doctor may feel it is mandatory for you to take the RhoGam shot, then he may encourage you to take the shot during the 28th week of pregnancy. Certain situations make it possible of mother’s blood getting mixed with the baby’s blood. Some of them are:
Who Are Not In Need Of A RhoGam Shot?
If the blood group of baby’s father also falls under the Rh-negative category, then there is no need of a RhoGam shot as the baby will also be Rh-negative and there will be no Rh incompatibility.
How Does Taking A RhoGAM Shot Help During Pregnancy?
Before getting into this topic, let us see what is Rh-positive and Rh-negative. Rh is a protein that most people have in their blood (irrespective of the group), on the surface of red blood cells. Only about 15% of the population do not carry the Rh-factor protein in their blood cells, thus falling under the Rh-negative category. Rest of the people (about 85%) who have the Rh factor protein in their blood cells fall under the Rh-positive category.
Being Rh positive or negative is irrelevant until a situation arises where there are chances of mixing Rh-positive blood with Rh-negative. The immune system of the body is always monitoring the blood stream for foreign bodies. The invaders are recognized by means of the protein they carry. The immune system tends to attack and destroys the invaders by producing antibodies against the unrecognizable protein. The same will happen when Rh-negative blood accidently mixes with Rh-positive blood.
During pregnancy, if the fetus is Rh-positive and mother is Rh-negative, and due to certain situations both the blood gets mixed, the mother’s body will produce antibodies against the fetus blood cells as it carries protein which is not recognized by the mother’s immune system. This is because the mother’s blood is devoid of it. This eventually starts to destroy the fetus’s blood cells. The newborn, thus, will have problems like Rhesus disease or hemolytic disease.
Generally, first pregnancies are safe even if the mother and the baby belong to different Rh groups. However, the chances are high, the blood of the baby may get mixed with the mothers at the time of delivery. This even though does no harm to the baby who is already delivered, but it will definitely affect the subsequent pregnancies with Rh-positive babies as the body of the mother already produces antibodies against the Rh-positive blood.
Rh immunoglobulin in RhoGam shot will stop the immune system from attacking Rh-positive cells and developing antibodies against Rh-positive blood cells. This will ensure safety in subsequent pregnancies.
Can You Find Out Whether Your Baby Is Rh Negative Before Delivery?
The baby will also be Rh negative, if your partner is also Rh negative. In order to know the Rh status of your partner, you can get a blood test of your partner.
Lately, a fetal Rh D genotyping test is also conducted that gives 99% accurate results in the first trimester. This test is performed by taking pregnant woman’s blood sample.
What Are The Side Effects Of A RhoGam Shot?
Since it is made from human blood, we cannot completely rule out the possibilities of presence of infectious agents that can cause problems. Similarly, the side effects can also be because of interaction with other drugs administered simultaneously. The RhoGam shot can cause the following side effects:
- Stomach pain
- Hives or rashes
- Swelling in hands and feet and ankles</li>
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Swellings in face, tongue, lips etc
- Pale skin, bleeding or bruising easily
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty in concentrating
It is very important to seek medical attention if you feel any of the above symptoms, as allergic reactions can sometime turn out to be fatal.
At the very beginning of your pregnancy, talk to your doctor to know more about your Rh status. Once the blood tests are conducted, speak to your doctor if you need RhoGam shot and what are its pros and cons.
Did any of you moms test Rh negative during your pregnancy? Did your doctor give you a RhoGam shot? Do share your experience with us in the comments section below.