Tuesday, February 12, 2008

from babymaker to troublemaker - the one about my negative Rh factor

Basically, you can be either rh negative or rh positive. I'm negative, The Husband is positive, and this means that Junebug could be either positive or negative.
So far, so good.
The problem is that when my rh-negative blood is touched by someone's rh-positive blood, it will sound a three bell alarm and start making antibodies.
An rh-negative pregnant woman can make antibodies that will attack her baby's blood, making the baby very sick or even causing it to die. These antibodies can also cause miscarriages. (Aside: I was tested and do not currently have antibodies. Go me and my anti-antibody blood!)

To protect babies, rh negative pregnant women receive shots of a medication that makes the body believe that it already has antibodies, thereby preventing the blood from making antibodies if it comes in contact with rh-postive blood. And this is where this begins to become rather complicated.

1. RhoGAM, the medication that women are injected with, is made from human blood. Meaning that getting the shot carries the risk of contracting a blood-borne disease. Like hepatitis. Or mad cow disease. BONUS: Have the shot while you're pregnant, and you not only infect mama, you infect baby as well.
2. Mercury. MIGHT be the cause of autism and other neurological issues in children. GUESS WHAT?!! RhoGAM contains thimerasol, which is a preservative that contains mercury. Here's where my research has not lead me to a definite answer. EITHER, RhoGAM is now completely mercury free, OR there is a thimerasol-free version that is available. This bullet seems dodged. Yay!
3. RhoGAM is routinely injected at two times: at 28 weeks or pregnancy and after delivery of the baby if the baby is rh positive. The shot at 28 weeks is purely precautionary: Firstly, nobody knows the baby's blood type (the shot is really only necessary if mom is rh negative and baby is rh positive). Secondly, in a normal pregnancy, mom's and baby's blood do not touch, so there shouldn't be any issues. My doctor told me that they give the shot at 28 weeks in case of trauma (e.g. car accident with internal bleeding).
Thing is, the shot doesn't need to be administered before the bloods mix to do its thing. As a matter of fact, mom can be injected with RhoGAM up to 72 hours after the mixing.
The shot mom gets after giving birth is only administered after the baby's blood type has been determined to be rh positive.

So. I decided NOT to have a RhoGAM injection at 28 weeks. It makes no sense to me.
I'm still deciding about the second shot, the one after giving birth. Sure, at least Junebug would be out of the womb - and, by extension, out of danger - but that doesn't make hepatitis any more fun for me to have for the rest of my life. I'm going to talk to my midwife about it. Meanwhile, don't yell at me about it. You won't make up or change my mind.

Also, here's an article that explains everything I just explained. Except better.

Next, I might talk my Sick Husband into taking a belly picture. Because my bump is getting really cute, if I do say so myself.


Just a Girl said...

That makes my head hurt.

I do love that you look into all this and don;t just take the establishment at word.

tweetey30 said...

Wow lots of information. I dont remember doing the shots either with either of the girls. So I wouldnt know how to talk you into it anyway and if dont want it its up to you. I know some people would say take the precautions but its your body and such.