Some women are described as having Rhesus negative blood. This can be a problem if the baby has Rhesus positive blood. During delivery, blood cells from the baby can pass into the mother's bloodstream and the mother reacts to the foreign blood cells by manufacturing antibodies to destroy them. If the mother becomes pregnant again with a Rhesus positive baby, these antibodies will pass to the baby and start to destroy his red blood cells.
So after giving birth, every Rhesus negative mother is given an injection of anti-D. This masks any of the baby's red blood cells which have got into her bloodstream, so that the mother does not manufacture antibodies against them.
Women who are Rhesus negative have their blood tested repeatedly during pregnancy to make sure that they are not forming anti¬bodies. If antibodies are found, the baby can be treated with blood transfusions while still in the uterus.
Nowadays, Rhesus negative women do not have problems if they have proper antenatal care during each of their pregnancies.
If your blood sample shows that you have no immunity to rubella:
1. You will be advised to keep well away from any child or adult thought to have rubella (sometimes called German measles).
It will be suggested that you are vaccinated against rubella once your baby has been born (you then need to avoid getting pregnant for the next three months).
If your blood sample shows that you have been recently infected with rubella, you will be offered a termination of your pregnancy (abortion). This is because there is a very high risk of the baby being born with serious problems.
If your blood tests shows that you have low levels of haemoglobin, you may:
1. Be advised to eat more foods such as bread, cereals and potatoes which are rich in iron; more fruit and vegetables which contain vitamin C and there help your body to absorb iron.
2. Be prescribed iron tablets (which, for maximum effect, should be taken with the first and last meal of the day).
All pregnant women appear to be slightly anemic because their blood is thinner than that of non-pregnant women (the same amount of red blood cells but much more diluted). Nowadays, there is a strong feeling that mild anemia during pregnancy should not be treated as thinner blood probably improves the circulation through the placenta.