Why I Declined The RhoGAM Shot During Pregnancy
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Before we dive into my personal experience with the RhoGAM shot, lets first talk about what it is and why it's recommended by your prenatal healthcare team. A simple google search or educational materials given to you by your prenatal healthcare provider will tell you that it's an injection made up of antibodies called immunoglobulin that help protect a fetus from its mother's antibodies. It's typically for mothers with Rh-negative blood type and keeps a mother from making antibodies to her baby's blood type when a mothers blood may mix with her baby's blood during birth. Now lets break that down into terms that we can actually wrap our head around. It was explained to me by my previous Midwife that the RhoGAM shot is not necessarily for the birth of your first child, but for the birth of your second child. Because when Moms blood mixes with your first baby's blood during the birth process, it can cause mothers body to make antibodies to your baby's blood type and prevent you getting pregnant with your second baby if your body perceives the new pregnancy/baby's blood type as an invader.
For example, my blood type is A- and if my husband had a positive + blood type then our child could potentially have the opposite blood type as me and cause me to create antibodies to my child's blood. Then when I got pregnant with a second child if it also had positive blood then the pregnancy may fail due to my body attacking the invader/new blood type from the new baby.
Before I wen't through my own pregnancy, I had no clue what a RhoGAm shot was. Thankfully it was talked about in one of the first pregnancy books I read (which you can find on the Our Favorites page of our website). Being more educated about the topic helped me to feel empowered to make a decision about receiving this injection ahead of time. At each of my visits I would ask my Midwife what was planned for the next visit so that I could do some research and prepare for the upcoming decisions I wanted to make in my pregnancy. I really wanted to avoid making decisions about my pregnancy on the fly. So when my midwife told me I would be "due" for the RhoGAM shot at my next visit I was able to ask her questions with plenty of time to still do my own research and came up with a decision that worked best for our family.
So there I was sitting in the hospital room waiting for the nurse to get my appointment started. After the nurse entered the room, her exact words words to me were "You are due for your glucose test (she had the sick orange bottle of sugar in her hand already), your vaccines, and your RhoGAM shot today." I simply replied with the answer. "I have already talked to my midwife about all of this and we are not going to be doing the RhoGAM shot today." (You may want to read my other blog post about why I fired my prenatal healthcare team at 31 weeks pregnant. Find the link at the end of this blog post.) I then looked over at my husband, thankful that he is finally able to come to appointments with me since COVID. But I had a look on my face that he knew meant trouble. He knows that no one gets to tell me what I am doing with my body but me! Did this nurse not read my notes in the chart where I already talked to my Midwife about this? Or worse, did my Midwife not make any notes in my chart about what we discussed previously about the glucose, vaccines, and RhoGAM shot? Either way, this was a major red flag for me.
This entire pregnancy, I have made a big effort not to make decisions about my pregnancy on the fly, so thankfully I already had a plan ahead of time about what I wanted to do about the RhoGAM shot. I decided there was no way I am putting something in my body that is deemed "safe" if I didn't actually need it. Too many times in this life drugs, medications, and medical procedures are deemed safe only to find out years down the road that they aren't nearly as safe as we thought they were. It seems to happen every time we think we are smarter than nature with all our interventions. When it comes to health, I personally like to stick as close to nature as possible and save all the modern interventions for a true time of need/crisis.
So I decided to schedule an appointment for my husband to give blood so we could help those in need and easily find out his blood type. Come to find out he has the EXACT SAME blood type that I do. Therefore making it completely unnecessary to inject my body with the RhoGAM shot.
As this blog comes out there might be some questions or disbelief that I encountered such a thing on my pregnancy journey because all states and hospitals do things differently. Some Moms might get the RhoGAM shot and not even realize it because they are "due" for it. Some may never realize that there is a choice to be made here. Other places may only give the shot if the mother has Rh-negative blood type. Maybe they give it closer to birth and not at the beginning of the third trimester like mine tried to do. As you can see there are shades of gray here much like everything in healthcare but wow I am seeing a lot in the pregnancy category of healthcare. But it's my mission to help my fellow Mamas take some of their power back. At Balanced Friends we always want you to feel empowered to be your own health advocate and to truly take charge of your health. You are the keeper of your body. You make the decisions about your health regardless of what you are "due" for.
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