Congrats on your pregnancy!!!. Did you get your first check up done with your doctor? Did she ask you for your Blood Type/ Blood Group? When I consulted my doctor for the first time after conceiving, the very first question she asked me was “What is your Blood Group ?”. When I said O+, she paused for a second and asked me particularly if it is ‘+‘ or ‘–‘. I didn’t understand why she was stressing out on ‘+’ and ‘-‘. I asked her why it is important to know Blood Type of mother during pregnancy and this is what she said.
Each of us will have a blood type and an Rh factor to it. O, A, B, AB are the most heard blood types and Rh factor is either positive or negative.
Below table is for you to understand better.
The Rh factor is a protein that is found on the surface of the red blood cells. The person is Rh-Positive , if the Rh factor protein is present on the surface of red blood cells. If it is not present, then the person is Rh- negative.
In pregnancy, the baby’s blood type in the womb is partially based on mommy’s genes and partially on daddy’s genes. Thus, there is no guarantee that the baby will get the same blood type as that of a mommy. The baby may inherit the Rh gene from either mommy or daddy. In my case, I’m Rh positive and my husband is Rh Negative, my son inherited my gene (he is Rh Positive).
When does the problem arise?
The problem arises when the mommy is Rh Negative and the foetus is Rh Positive. This is called “Rh Incompatibility”. When the Rh Negative mommy’s blood gets in contact with the blood from her Rh Positive foetus, the mother’s Rh factor develops substances called “antibodies” against the Rh factor of the baby. Our body produces antibodies everyday in order to fight against the bacteria or other such substances. But when these antibodies are formed against the Rh factor of the foetus, it may cause serious health problems in babies.
What happens when Rh antibodies fight against Rh factor of feotus?
The Rh antibodies destroy few of the fetal red blood cells. This causes hemolytic anemia, where red blood cells are destroyed more faster than the body can replace them.
Most of the time it may not be an issue if you are pregnant for the first time. This is because the baby is mostly born before the mommy develops many antibodies. The problem occurs with the second (and subsequent) pregnancies. The antibodies produced in the previous pregnancy will damage the present (second or subsequent) baby’s blood cells.
What should be done to prevent such problems?
This can be prevented by giving the mommy an injection of substance called Rh immunoglobulin. As per studies, the rate of anti-Rh antibodies causing problems for pregnancies has dropped from 16% to 0.1% after using this injection.
When should the injection be given to the Rh Negative mommy?
- In the 28th week of pregnancy.
- Within 72 hours after the delivery of an Rh-positive infant.
- After a miscarriage, abortion, or ectopic pregnancy.
Hope you find this informative. Let us know if we have missed out on any other points through comments.