The RhoGAM Shot during Pregnancy and at Birth: Why Is It Important? When Would You Need It?

Show Notes:

[1:11] Our reviewer of the week is, MorganAdams94, and she said, “I started listening to this podcast in 2021. I had a miscarriage in 2020 and with so much fear of a new pregnancy in 2021, I wanted all the education I could get. This podcast has it all! Stephanie makes sure to give listeners so many resources from professionals to positive birth stories. I have continued listening to the podcast as new information is helping me in my third pregnancy. I won’t stop listening anytime soon!” 

I found out more information with each pregnancy and did so much more research each time. I hope this episode will be just one more topic you're more knowledgeable about. ๐Ÿ’œ

In this quick to the point but informational episode, if you are Rh negative, you will now have all the information you need about the RhoGAM shot, when you’ll receive it (if you choose!), how it’ll affect you and your baby, and all the benefits and risks. As always, you have a choice!

[2:17] No matter what pregnancy this is for you, there’s always more you can learn! This episode is especially for mamas who are Rh negative. We are going to talk about the rhoGAM shot. ๐Ÿ’‰

[2:38] At your first prenatal appointment, you will have bloodwork done. One of the things they are looking at is your blood type. Specifically, if mom has a negative blood type, and I am going to tell you why in just a second. If a mom is Rh positive, you won’t hear about this shot, but if mom has a negative blood type, your provider is going to want to give you this shot. ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿป‍โš•๏ธ

[3:02] So what does it mean and why does it matter? You will have either a negative or a positive factor to your blood. (Types of Blood: A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+, or AB-). The positive indicates whether the Rh factor is present in your blood. It’s a protein that’s found on the surface of your blood cells. ๐Ÿฉธ

[3:44] If you are Rh negative, and your baby is Rh positive, then the concern is that even if a small amount of blood is mixed between mom and baby, you become “sensitized” and your body starts creating antibodies that fight against the positive factor. If that happens, miscarriage and birth defects become a concern. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

[4:27] The most likely time when the mixing of blood could happen during pregnancy is if you have a subchorionic hemorrhage AKA subchorionic hematoma, which is when blood collects/pools in the membrane that attaches the uterine wall to the amniotic sac. It could also happen if you have an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (both genetic tests), or if you are offered an ECV (External Cephalic Version) to turn a breech baby. ๐Ÿ”„

[6:45] If mom and dad both have Rh-negative blood, then the baby will have Rh-negative blood and so if mom and baby’s blood mixes, there will not be sensitization - however, if you have Rh-negative blood, whether or not dad has Rh-negative blood, you will be treated as if your baby is positive, out of an abundance of caution. โš ๏ธ

[7:25] You won’t know your baby’s blood type until after birth, if dad is not Rh-negative. Because of this, your doctor is going to recommend the RhoGAM shot during pregnancy as a preventative measure. This is why they quickly test your baby’s blood type after birth. ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป

[7:49] What happens if mom and baby’s blood gets mixed? Mom’s body starts making antibodies that can attach the Rh-positive proteins. Once your body has made these antibodies they are permanent and you will always have them from that point on. This means it can affect future pregnancies, which is why moms choose to get the RhoGAM shot. ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ If you have these antibodies, they can harm your growing baby:

  • fetal anemia (low iron)
  • misscarriage
  • jaundice
  • seizures
  • stillbirth 

[9:22] How can we prevent this from happening? By getting the RhoGAM shot, which is given as an injection, and it is not a vaccine. It is given to Rh negative moms that stops your blood from making antibodies that attack Rh positive blood cells. It is made from human plasma that contains a very small amount of Rh-positive proteins. These proteins help your body to not make those antibodies that will attack your Rh positive baby’s blood cells.๐Ÿฆ 

[10:29] If nothing is done, about 1 in 5 or about 20% of women who are Rh-negative will develop sensitization. ๐Ÿ“Š

[10:54] I share my personal experience. I am Rh-negative and my husband is Rh-positive. I got the shot around the 24 to 28-week mark. We moved overseas back to the States. After my baby was born, we didn’t get the blood test done right away after he was born. I had intended to get the RhoGAM shot, but he did not get the shot after birth. Even during labor, mom and baby’s blood can mix during labor. Later, when trying to get pregnant, it became a concern, when I wasn’t getting pregnant. I had an antibody test and was not sensitized. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ

[13:17] If for some reason, getting the shot gets missed, majority of the time it does not cause complications. It is absolutely your choice as with everything. There are a lot of positives in getting the shot, but it is always your choice. ๐Ÿค”

 [13:47] When does mom get RhoGAM shot? The most common time for the mixing of mom and baby’s blood is birth. The shot is given to moms around 24-28 weeks. As your baby is growing and the placenta is growing, those membranes that separate mom and baby are super thin and there is a greater chance of some mixing to happen. The shot lasts for about 13 weeks. โณ

[14:45] Your baby will have their blood tested after birth. IF baby is Rh positive, mom will get another RhoGAM shot around 72 hours postpartum. This stops your body from making any antibodies that could affect your future babies. If your baby is negative you won’t need that second shot. You will need to have RhoGAM injection with each pregnancy, miscarriage, and birth. ๐Ÿคฐ๐Ÿผ

[15:56] How safe is the RhoGAM shot? The Rhogam shot is considered very safe. It has been around for around 50 years. Possible side effects are hardening, soreness, or swelling at injection site or a slight fever (although less common). ๐Ÿค’

[16:34] The risks listed on the RhoGAM pamphlet also states, “ RhoGAM is prepared from human plasma and may contain infectious agents that can cause disease. Numerous tests have been applied in the plasma collection process and specific viral inactivation steps have been added to the manufacturing process to minimize the risk of transmission of diseases, but all risk cannot be eliminated.” From what I’ve read, this would include something like HIV; however, it is so rare that there have been no instances of this reported. ๐Ÿ“ƒ

[17:30] What would an allergic reactions to RhoGAM look like?

  • Itchy rash
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Anaphylaxis (which may include swelling of the throat or tongue, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, and/or hives)

If you did have an allergic reaction, it would happen within 20 minutes while you’re still in the care of your provider. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ‍๐Ÿ’จ

[18:04] When is the RhoGAM shot not recommended?

  • If you is RH positive
  • If you have hemolytic anemia
  • If you are allergic to human immune globulin (the shot is made from human blood plasma)
  • Moms who already have Rh sensitization (or have already developed antibodies)

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ALL the best,


Links Mentioned:

My Essential Birth Course

My Essential Birth Instagram

RhoGAM Pamphlet


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