When you looked at abortion as an option for your pregnancy, you were probably told that you needed to take a pregnancy test and receive an ultrasound before any procedure.
But did you know that you should have your Rh factor tested too?
WHAT IS THE RH FACTOR?
Rhesus (Rh) factor is an inherited protein found on the surface of your red blood cells that can cause an immune response. You are Rh-positive if your blood has this protein.
You are Rh-negative if your blood does not have this protein. During one of your first prenatal visits, a doctor conducts the Rh factor test by taking a blood sample.
WHY DO I NEED TO BE TESTED?
If you are pregnant, the fetus can inherit the Rh factor from the mother or the father. Most people are Rh-positive. However, when a woman is Rh-negative and her fetus is Rh-positive, Rh incompatibility can occur if the blood mixes.
If the blood of an Rh-positive fetus gets into the bloodstream of an Rh-negative woman, her body will recognize the Rh-positive blood as a foreign substance and start producing anti-Rh antibodies.
These antibodies can cross the placenta and attack the fetus’s blood cells, causing serious health problems before or after delivery.
A small amount of the fetus’s blood could come in contact with the pregnant woman’s blood during:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Removal of a molar pregnancy
- Chorionic villus sampling
- Bleeding during pregnancy
- Abdominal trauma during pregnancy
- External cephalic version
WHAT IS THE RISK?
If an Rh-negative woman gets pregnant after one of these events listed above and has not received treatment, a future fetus may be at risk for problems if the future fetus is also Rh-positive. If this occurs, the existing Rh antibodies from a previous pregnancy can cross the placenta and attack the fetus’s red blood cells, causing anemia.
This can cause serious illness, brain damage, or even death to the fetus or newborn.
RhoGam is a medication administered at 28 weeks gestation in women with Rh-negative blood. RhoGam should also be given after delivery, miscarriage, or abortion to suppress antibody formation if the woman is Rh-negative.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NEXT?
If you are pregnant and considering abortion, schedule a free, confidential options consultation. Our trained staff will answer any questions you might have and provide information to help you navigate your next steps.
Schedule your free appointment today.
“Rh factor blood test.” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/rh-factor/about/pac-20394960
“Rh-Factor Blood Type and Pregnancy.” American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/rh-factor/“The Rh Factor: How It Can Affect Your Pregnancy.” ACOG, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/the-rh-factor-how-it-can-affect-your-pregnancy#:~:text=During%20a%20pregnancy%2C%20Rh%20antibodies,all%20parts%20of%20the%20body.