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Importance Of Monitoring Rh Factor Of The Soon To Be Born Child

December 3, 2020

As soon as your baby is born, your responsibilities double up. This mother-child relationship that is formed due to the biological process of giving birth is unique and needs a lot of care and love. However, it does not ensure any attachment or bonding between the mother and the child.

The child can form a nonverbal attachment with anyone who is the primary caregiver and in all likelihood that will be the mother. It is natural for the mother and baby to fall in love with each other, and this forms the foundation of this bonding.

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Newborns generally give clues by crying for their need for warmth, food or attention. The mother can, with practice, decipher the need of the baby and attend to them through expressions, gestures, movements and emotions. This will lead to a mutual bonding between both the mother and the child, based on trust and love. This nonverbal and mutual relationship makes the child feel secure with the mother, and can then focus on other developments of the body and the mind.

A bond that is solid and secure would put the child at ease, thereby developing trust and a method of communicating his feelings with the mother. This would gradually pass on into the adult life as well when the child is grown up and forming loving and understanding relationships with others.

The bond that the mother would build with the little one at this stage will be the foundation stone for the future, and as a mother, one must invest time and effort into this bond.

Rh factor:

Besides the bond that the mother has with the baby, another link that she passes on to the baby is the Rh factor. Rh is a protein that is found on the surface of the RBCs. Those who have this protein are Rh+ and those without the aforementioned protein are Rh-. This is added on to the blood group to make it A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB- and so forth.

Rh factor is genetic:

If both the parents are Rh-, the foetus will also be Rh-. However, if either of the parents is Rh+, the foetus can be Rh+ or Rh- depending upon the DNA of the parents. In some cases, the Rh factor poses a problem during pregnancy. If Rh- mother conceives Rh+ child and the foetal blood comes in contact with the mother’s blood, then the mother starts producing antibodies against the Rh+ foetus blood. This is called Rh Incompatibility or Rh Sensitization.

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Rh Sensitization and Its Complications:

About 90% of the women worldwide are Rh+ and need not worry about Rh incompatibility. It is only the remaining 10% who need to be monitored carefully during pregnancy. If the mother is Rh- and the father is Rh+, the child in all probability will be Rh+, a highly undesirable situation for a safe pregnancy.

This can lead to the following problems:

• If during pregnancy or delivery process, the mother’s blood and child’s blood mix, then the mother’s body will start producing antibodies to fight Rh protein of the RBC.

• First pregnancy with this kind of situation is generally manageable because by the time enough antibodies are produced the delivery is done.

• In some cases, even after the delivery, the mother’s body continues to form antibodies and this becomes potentially harmful for the second pregnancy with an Rh+ foetus. This time the antibodies can pass through the placenta to attack the RBC of the foetus leading to a potentially fatal situation called Foetal Hydrops. It leads to severe anaemia and heart failure of the soon to be born child.

Diagnosis of Potential Rh Incompatibility Cases:

A blood test is done for all pregnant women to test their Rh factor. If the test result of the mother is Rh -then more tests are done on the father of the baby to identify the potential of an Rh+ foetus.

If you happen to be Rh- you are a potential case for Rh sensitization. A blood test on the 28th week of pregnancy will be done to detect the presence of antibodies for Rh+ blood. If traces of these antibodies are found in the mother's blood, she would be injected with Rh immunoglobulin. This will prevent the body from producing any further Rh antibodies during pregnancy.

If your baby is born Rh-, then all causes of concern are over. However, if the baby is Rh+, then the mother, post-delivery would be injected again with the Rh Immunoglobulin. This process will go on for all subsequent pregnancies. In case the blood test on the 28th week shows that the mother's body has already produced a lot of antibodies, then the immunoglobulin injection will not be enough. This would put the child at risk, and the mother would have to be carefully monitored through ultrasound and regular foetal blood tests.

Amniocentesis is another sure shot way to determine baby’s blood types and Rh factor. Usually, this is carried out after 15 weeks. In this, a small sample of amniotic fluid is drawn out for prognosis.

Treatment for Rh Incompatibility:

If the case of Rh incompatibility has been diagnosed, it becomes important to ensure the safety of the child from the mother’s womb itself. There are certain treatments that will become imperative:

  • Blood Transfusions: In cases of acute immunity, the foetus might need blood transfusion through the umbilical cord. This transfusion will also be needed immediately after delivery.

  • Phototherapy: Jaundice, another common result of this condition, would have to be treated with phototherapy of the child immediately after birth.

  • Immunoglobulin: These immunoglobulin injections given to the mother at the time of pregnancy are important to prevent further growth of antibodies in the child’s blood.

  • Premature Delivery: In some cases, the child will have to be delivered earlier than the full term to save a life.

To Know More: Intrauterine Blood Transfusion

Preventive Measures:

As the mother, you can’t possibly prevent a situation wherein you are Rh- while the foetus is Rh+, as these are guided by the DNA. However, you can take measures as a mother to ensure that your child is perfectly safe. The first step towards that is to get your blood test done when you are pregnant to determine your Rh factor. If there is a possibility of Rh incompatibility, talk to your doctor to find out the best course of action.

Immunoglobulin is the best way to prevent any serious damage to your child. All Rh- women will need to take immunoglobulin during every pregnancy, miscarriage or abortion, also in case of any injury to the abdomen. ith proper care and precaution, the Rh incompatibility cases can be managed very well. The mother would not only deliver a healthy baby but also would form a special bond that would last a lifetime.

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