It is the dream of every woman to get married to a prince charming and have little prince “charmings” and princess “Cinderellas”. However, many suffer unnecessary heart ache at the point of having children due to ignorance of basic health information. Much premium has been placed on knowing one’s genotype before tying the knot with another in marriage but little is known about the importance of knowing one’s Rhesus status.
Rhesus (Rh) factor is a protein which is inherited from one’s parents and found on the top of red blood cells. A person is Rhesus positive if such a person’s blood has the protein.
A person is Rhesus negative if such a person’s blood lacks the protein. Most people are usually Rhesus positive. While being Rhesus negative usually does not disturb a woman’s health, it can affect a woman’s pregnancy. If as a woman you are Rhesus negative and your husband is Rhesus positive, your pregnancy will need special attention.
Importance of knowing your Rhesus status
The importance of knowing one’s Rhesus (Rh) status especially as a woman is because of the risk of experiencing Rh incompatibility during pregnancy. Problems can arise during pregnancy if a woman is Rh negative and the baby she is carrying is Rh positive. During pregnancy, there are cases where blood from the baby crosses into the mother’s bloodstream especially during delivery. If the mother is Rh positive and the baby is positive, there would be no problem; same as if the mother and the baby are negative or if the mother is Rh positive and the baby is Rh negative. However, if the mother is Rh negative and the baby is Rh positive, the mother’s body will react to the baby’s blood as an antigen (foreign substance). This causes the mother’s body to produce antibodies (proteins that fight foreign substances) against the Rh-positive blood of the baby.
These antibodies usually do not show any effect during the first pregnancy because the baby would have been born before the development of many of the antibodies. Once produced, the antibodies remain in the mother’s body thus increasing the risk of Rh incompatibility in the second and subsequent pregnancies, that is, if the baby is Rh-positive. This is a situation when Rh antibodies cross the placenta and fight the red blood cells of the baby. This can lead to a medical condition called haemolytic anaemia in the baby. This fatal medical condition is when red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can replace them. Remember that the function of red blood cells is to carry oxygen around the body parts. In other words, a baby will be without sufficient oxygen if it has this condition. This can ultimately lead to death.
Knowledge is power. Know your genotype but also know your Rhesus status. This is not to say that a Rh-negative woman cannot marry a Rh positive man. However, if the couple knows their Rh status, they can be well prepared to handle the situation in the event that their unborn child is Rh positive. Advance in Medical science have also developed Rh immune globulin injections which can be given to Rh negative mothers 28 weeks into the pregnancy and at birth as a precaution.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful. Kindly share with anybody who might need this information. If you have further questions on any other health issue, feel free to ask our health professionals here.