What is a RhoGAM shot and why is it given during pregnancy?

What is a RhoGAM shot and why is it given during pregnancy

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Your doctor may have used terms like Rh Negative and RhoGAM shot in one of your appointments, only to leave you wondering what the term means. Here’s everything you need to know about the RhoGam shot and more!

Mommas typically need to undergo a range of prenatal blood tests and it is in one of these tests that you may be declared Rh Negative, which means that you and your baby may be Rh incompatible, implying the need for a RhoGAM injection or a shot of Rh immunoglobulin.

What is the Rh factor?

Rh incompatibility may sure sound rather daunting and a serious condition but in reality, it is rather simple and a low-risk condition to be in.

Each blood group is suffixed with either a plus (+) or a minus (-) indicating where or not the Rh factor is present in one’s bloodstream. In other words, for a person who is a B+ blood type, the Rh factor is present in the blood implying Rh-positive blood; whereas a person who is B- blood type, does not have the Rh factor present in their body type, implying Rh-negative blood.

What is Rh incompatibility?

Rh incompatibility happens when an Rh-negative woman is pregnant with an Rh-positive baby. If your baby’s blood comes into contact with yours during pregnancy or delivery, your body can build antibodies against the Rh factor, which can lead to complications in later pregnancies.

Is it normal to be Rh-Negative?

While being Rh-negative is not a generally alarming situation to be in, it should be noted that not many people are Rh-negative. Only about 15 percent of white people, 4 to 8 percent of black people, and just about 0.3 percent of Asians are  Rh-negative.

Having said that, the only place where being Rh-negative may play an important role is during pregnancy. If, as a pregnant woman, you are Rh-negative and your baby is Rh-positive, you may have to deal with some complications in terms of your baby’s health. And hence, in order to neutralize the negative and positive, a RhoGAM shot is given.

What is RhoGAM Shot?

RhoGAM is the injection used to treat the aforesaid Rh incompatibility during pregnancy. How does the injection do it, you ask? A RhoGAM shot – generic: Rho(D) immune globulin – carries antibodies of plasma donors that work to stop the mother’s immune system from reacting with the baby’s Rh-positive cells. Hence, it keeps the mother-baby Rh incompatibility from causing any potential problems, should both blood types mix with each other until childbirth

How do I know if I need the RhoGAM shot during pregnancy?

Typically, all doctors test the Rh factor of all expecting moms during one of the prenatal appointments via a blood test. In fact, the father of the baby will also be tested, and the RhoGAM shot needs to be taken even if the partner is Rh-positive while you, as the mother, are not.

A RhoGAM shot is recommended since it is the best and the safest way to avoid the potential complications that an Rh incompatibility can otherwise cause. 

A RhoGAM shot protects the fetus’s red blood cells from being attacked if their blood comes in contact with the mother. This shot also helps prevent Rh-related complications should you happen to plan future pregnancies.

As an Rh-negative mother, the only situation when you would not be recommended the RhoGAM shot would be in case the baby is determined Rh-negative too.

When is a RhoGAM shot given?

in case an Rh-incompatibility is determined between you and your baby, the RhoGAM shot will be administered to you twice. The first shot is typically given around the 26th and 28 weeks of pregnancy, whereas, the second injection is given within 72 hours post-deliveries. The second shot is used to prevent ensure safe future pregnancies.

Do I need a RhoGAM shot after a miscarriage or chemical pregnancy?

The answer may seem otherwise but in reality, a RhoGAM shot is recommended after a pregnancy loss like that of an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, or a chemical pregnancy. The reason behind this lies in the very functionality or the purpose of a RhoGAM shot. 

As you may have now understood, a  RhoGAM shot is used to prevent any complications that may arise in the event that a fetus’ blood supply comes into contact with the mother’s. 

And since the blood of the fetus can very well mix with the mother’s bloodstream in case of a miscarriage or a chemical pregnancy, a RhoGAM shot is typically recommended.

What are the side effects of the RhoGAM shot?

Common side-effects of RhoGAM include-

  • Allergic reactions to Rhogam resulting in soreness, redness, and mild rashes in the infection site
  • Slight fever
  • Chills
  • Severe headaches

Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor in case you have any concerns about taking the RhoGAM shot.

Is RhoGAM made with donated blood?

Sine a RhoGAM injection carries antibodies of plasma donors that work to stop the mother’s immune system from reacting with the baby’s Rh-positive cells, yes, it is made with donated blood. 

Having said that, you need not worry about contracting any common blood-transmitted diseases like AIDS or hepatitis because the donated blood is screened and treated prior to being used in a RhoGAM shot.

Which body part is RhoGAM given?

Like most other shots, RhoGAM is injected either into the arm or backside.

Final Thoughts

A RhoGAM incompatibility may sound rather intimidating and like a big deal but it in fact is one of the easiest complications to get rid of. Discuss RhoGAM with your doctor and be assured, this injection has saved hundreds of pregnancies from turning fatal- yours could be saved safely too!

FAQs: What is a RhoGAM shot and why is it given during pregnancy?

1) What is RhoGAM ultra-filtered plus?

The generic name of the RhoGAM vaccine is rho(d) immune globulin (human) whereas the brand name of the vaccine is Rhogam Ultra-Filtered Plus.

2)What happens if you don't get a RhoGAM shot while pregnant?

If you do not take the RhoGAM shot as a means of Rh immunization, you may expose your baby to multiple health complications including and not limiting to anemia, a lack of healthy red blood cells. heart failure.

3) Do I need the RhoGAM shot for all pregnancies?

Even if you were already given the RhoGAM injection in your first pregnancy, you may still need to receive the vaccination in your second pregnancy- unless your doctor suggests sensitization or if your fetus is confirmed to be Rh-negative.
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