What is RHOGAM and why does it matter?
During your first prenatal appointment with your OBGYN you’ll likely talk to your doctor about prenatal nutrition, staying physically active while pregnant and some general tips on keeping healthy. You’ll also have a sample of blood taken to test for things like immunity to chicken pox or your hemoglobin level. And alongside this blood test, your provider will also find out what your blood group is.
There are four major blood groups: A, B, AB and O.
But in addition to this, there is another component of blood known as the Rhesus factor. Rhesus factor a protein sometimes found on the surface of blood. If you have that protein on your blood you are rhesus Positive. If you don’t have that protein on your blood you’re rhesus Negative.
Why Rhesus factor is important
If the father of the baby is rhesus positive the baby could be rhesus positive as well. If some of this first baby’s blood traverses the placenta (abdominal trauma during pregnancy, vaginal bleeding during pregnancy or blood mingling at delivery) the mother could become sanitized to this foreign blood protein.
In future pregnancies mother’s immune system could try to attack this second baby’s blood. This could lead to sever anaemia in this (subsequent) pregnancy, which leads to heart failure in the baby and the need for early delivery. All this can be avoided by giving mom Rhogam when 7 months pregnant and at delivery as well as other times of high risk….bleeding, trauma.
Who needs RHOGAM?
Rhogam is a prescription medicine that is given to all pregnant ladies with rhesus negative blood. It is used to stop any terrible reactions from happening if mothers rhesus negative blood should ever come into contact with baby’s rhesus positive blood. Blood from both mother and baby may come into contact during times of heavy blood loss such as:
- Spontaneous abortion
- Placental abruption
- Following delivery
This is why it’s important that all rhesus negative moms that experience any significant bleeding, let their OBGYN know.
RHOGAM is also given routinely to all rhesus negative women around week 28 of their pregnancy.
How it affects future pregnancies
RHOGAM is given to protect mothers and baby during the current pregnancy but also for future pregnancies.
Does RHOGAM have any side effects?
Not really. RHOGAM is there simply to help protect the mom’s immune system from accidentally attacking the baby while it’s in the womb. If you have any safety concerns about RHOGAM be sure to ask your provider.
If you’re rhesus negative what can you expect
If you’re rhesus negative then you can expect to receive a routine dose of RHOGAM during your 28th week of gestation.
You should also report any heavy bleeding to your provider.