There are a lot of questions that come up during pregnancy and decisions to make. Whether you need a rhogam shot during pregnancy is at least pretty straightforward. It’s a black or white, yes or no decision based on your blood type. In this post I’m going to go over the basics of who needs a rhogam shot and what the shot does for you and your babies. Be sure to discuss it with your care provider if you have any concerns.
None of the information in this post should be used in place of medical advice. Always consult your healthcare professionals if you have concerns.
This is post 20 in my series, 31 days of tips for moms to be.
who needs a rhogam shot
To answer this you need to know your blood type. If you don’t know it, I can never seem to remember mine, your doctor will check when they draw your blood at your first prenatal appointment. Everyone’s blood type contains 1-2 letters and a + or -. The positive or negative is referred to as your Rh factor. If you are Rh- then you need a rhogam shot, it’s as cut and dry as that.
what does it do?
The rhogam shot is NOT a vaccine. It is not made for the prevention of disease. The shot prevents Rh sensitization in you, the mother, if your baby happens to be Rh+. In general a positive and a negative are opposites. If you’re Rh- blood sees any Rh+ blood it will see it as an invader and may attack cells that are Rh+, this means that your body could attack the cells of your baby!
This is generally not an issue with your first pregnancy. The most common time for your blood and babies to possibly meet is during delivery. However, if you do not have the shot and this interaction occurs you will develop Rh sensitization, which can be harmful in your next pregnancy.
when should I get it?
The shot will be given by your doctor around 28-30 weeks of your pregnancy. The shot is effective for about 13 weeks after you receive it. WARNING: This shot is also not given like your normal vaccine shot, this shot goes in your bottom. I did not know this before I had to get mine and was quite surprised! It may leave you a little sore but most people have no other effects from the shot.
If your baby is born and their blood type contains a Rh+ then you will receive a second rhogam shot within 72 hours of giving birth.
Other times you may need the rhogam shot:
- vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
- after a miscarriage or abortion
- injury to your belly during pregnancy, such as a fall
- after certain prenatal testing
(information taken from the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health)
is it safe?
Yes! The rhogam shot is completely safe. According to the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, it’s been in use for 50 years. There is a small chance of an allergic reaction causing a fever or chills and redness at the injection site but no reports of long-term effects in mom or baby.
What happens if you elect not to get the shot? 1 in 5, as of the 2013 report referenced above, who do not get the shot will develop Rh sensitization. This can result in serious complications in future pregnancies such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and fetal anemia.