Rh Shot – Is Getting the Shot During Pregnancy Dangerous?

RhoGAM is controversial.  The RhoGAM shot is made by mixing samples of blood plasma and is administered to women who run the supposed risk of incurring RH Disease (Rheses Factor).

But what exactly is RhoGAM and  why is it effective? 

Or…Is it even effective at all?  And what are the risks involved?  Let’s take a closer look…

The RhoGAM shot is made using blood plasma, gathered from hundreds of people to create this immunoglobulin to lower the risk of the Rh Disease. It is given to Rh negative women carrying Rh positive infants to prevent her body from developing an immunity against the babies red blood cells. 

Any time you are injected with another person’s blood, you involve risk.  Yes this blood plasma does goes through a sterilization process, but it still has been known to carry pathogens that can cause blood born diseases. (like HIV and Hepatitis)

Another risk is that your RhoGAM shot may contain thimerosal / mercury which is very toxic to the human body. Studies show that mercury passes the placenta wall within hours of an injection with thimerosal.

Possible Side Effects of RhoGAM

Make sure to read the list of potential side effects – this is NOT a complete list:

  • fever, chills
  • swelling of hands & feet
  • back pain
  • arthritis
  • headaches
  • infrequent urination
  • muscle pain
  • vomiting

A Closer Look

Since your baby’s blood does not mix with your blood during pregnancy, than there is zero need for RhoGAM until there is valid reason to believe there was a mixing during the birthing process. I’m not sure why doctors are so insistent on giving the Rh negative mother the RhoGAM shot without knowing if her baby’s blood type.  Some come to the conclusion that this is a way for the pharmaceutical companies to make more money because they recommend you to receive two RhoGAM shots during pregnancy and one after delivery.  This is a lot more than the occasional shot they would give if your baby proves to be Rh positive.

Doctors used to wait to see what the baby’s blood type was at the time of birth and then give the shot if the baby tested Rh positive and you, as the mother, are Rh negative.  Today, your doctor tells you that you need the RhoGAM shot without even knowing the blood type of your baby.

An Exception

The only time you would need the RhoGAM shot before delivery is when you have had a traumatic experience during your pregnancy that would cause your baby’s blood to mix with yours (bad car accident, direct fall to your abdomen, etc).  Otherwise, if you are having a normal, healthy pregnancy – wait until the baby is born and get the baby’s blood type from the blood in the umbilical cord. 

Good News

If you have a natural birth with no complications and have waited for the placenta to be born BEFORE cutting the umbilical cord – then there has been no opportunity for your baby’s blood to mix with yours.  Therefore your body will not produce antibodies against a positive blood type and  your future pregnancy will be at no risk. 

Additionally, if your baby is born with a negative blood type (just like yours), then you are safe as well!  You will be glad you did not take any previous RhoGAM shots since you didn’t have as positive blood type baby.

If your baby is born with the Rh Factor (positive blood type), then after the baby has been born, you are then free to decide at that point whether or not you would like to be given the RhoGAM shot to protect the future pregnancy.