The importance of your rhesus status whilst pregnant

Why Your Rhesus Status Is So Important During Pregnancy?

When you have finally got over the initial excitement and anticipation of being pregnant you face a journey of midwife appointments, scans and blood tests. I have a massive phobia of needles and this was the one thing I really didnt look forward to during these appointments. But I now understand the importance of these blood tests and what vital information it can give your midwives for your ongoing care during your pregnancy. One of the blood tests the nurses and midwives do is to obtain your blood group which could be either A,B, AB or O and also your rhesus status which could either be positive or negative.

Your rhesus status is determined by your genes. Most people are rhesus positive and this means that you have a protein (D antigen) that is found on the surface of your red blood cells. However there is a minority that are rhesus negative who unfortunately dont have this protein active.

So the main question on most expectant mothers lips, if they have a rhesus negative status, is How does this effect my baby? The answer is simple, it will only effect you and your baby if your babies rhesus status is positive. This is obtained by the father having a rhesus positive status. If some of your babies blood enters into your own blood stream your white blood cells begin to fight it. Therefore in simple terms your body is fighting your baby. In scientific terms your babies blood will be seen as a foreign invader and will subsequently create antibodies against it. This is called a sensitising event. This isnt necessarily a problem with your first baby, however in pregnancies to come if you carry a rhesus positive baby again then the chances are the antibodies could cross the placenta and attack your babies blood. This could cause anemia which could be life threatening, or cause problems for your babies heart and liver function when they are born. I was also advised by my midwife that in the worst case scenario it could cause you to miscarry your second baby.

This may not sound like the most upbeat post I have done but I thought it was important to highlight potential issues. I have a rhesus negative status and subsequently learnt all about the potential risks during my pregnancy so I wanted to pass this information on.

There is something that can be done to potentially avoid all of the above and that is in the form of an Anti-D Injection. I need to remind you at this stage that I am a massive needle phobic, but I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this injection hurts. Even the midwife had to admit it is one of the worst injections you can have. Having this injection prevents your body from creating antibodies. Having these injections will protect your future babies as your body wont have created any antibodies to fight the blood type of your baby. Unfortunately you are not to know what rhesus status your baby is until they are born.

I endured my first Anti-D injection at just 11 weeks pregnant. It was when I actually found out I was rhesus negative. I had had a bleed and went straight to the baby unit at the hospital. This is explained in my Pregnancy and birth story.??Under normal circumstances you will be offered this injection at 28 weeks and 34 weeks however after doing research some hospitals or units give a higher dosage at 28weeks and this would then mean the 34 week injection is not needed. If you have a bleed before 28 weeks then you will be offered the injection early as this is a chance where the blood could mix. If this would then be a regular occurrence, which in my case it was, you would then have the Anti-D injection every six weeks, just to make sure you are covered.

Now you may be thinking, how will mine and my babies blood mix anyway. The only way that there is a chance of this happening is by a potential threat of miscarriage, you may experience spotting or silent bleeds from the placenta or trying to turn a breach baby round. Either way your midwives will be fully aware of your situation right from that very first blood test and you will be offered everything that will be needed to look after the welfare of yourself and your baby.

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