Before we delve deep into Rhesus Factor, let me first share this excerpt from a broadcast I received from a friend. It might help you develop a background understanding of what we are dealing with.
It goes thus:
Nancy got married in the year 2010, from that time and until now she has had 10 heart breaking miscarriages. She blames the terrible experience on the witches in her village. But she doesn’t know that she and (probably) the dysfunctional medical system are the cause of her predicament. I will tell you how.
Have you ever heard of the word Rhesus factor?
Rh factor is a protein that can be present on the surface of the red-blood cell. People that have the Rh factor are Rh positive +, those who do not have the Rh factor are Rh negative-. Just like we have different blood groups, we also have different Rhesus Factors or Rh Factors.
The + and – in front of the blood group is the rhesus factor. So we have A+,A-,O+,O-, B+,B-,AB+,AB-.
How does a person get the Rhesus Factor?
The Rh factor is genetic. In other words, it is inherited. Passed down through parents’ genes to their children. If the mother is Rh negative and the father is Rh positive, the fetus or baby can inherit the Rh gene from the father and could be either Rh positive or Rh negative. If the mother and father are both Rh negative, the baby also will be Rh negative. This would mean that Rhesus Factor is gotten basically from the man.
Now that we are clear on what Rh factor is Let’s move further to why I said Nancy is the cause of her miscarriages .
If you are Rh positive e.g (a+,b+,o+,ab+) you are safe, but if you are negative e.g (a-,B-,AB-,O-) you are not. If you are a male Rh- u are safe, if you are a female you aren’t. And if a Rh- woman gets pregnant for a man who is Rh- she is safe. But if she gets pregnant for a man who is Rh+, she isn’t.
Kindly note that most people are Rh positive. Only very few are negative. And the possibility for a Rh- woman to find a Rh- man is quite slim.
You should read about how a miscalculation in your blood groups can affect your children. Because in the same way, a miscalculation in your Rhesus factor can seriously affect your children!
Can the Rhesus factor cause problems during pregnancy?
The Rh factor can cause problems if you are Rh negative and your fetus is Rh positive. This is called Rh incompatibility. These problems usually do not occur in a first pregnancy, but they can occur in a later pregnancy.
Let’s assume Nancy is Rh- and she once aborted a pregnancy. If the man who got her pregnant is Rh+, obviously her baby would have been Rh+.
During abortion, the Rh+ blood may have come in contact with her Rh- blood. And that might be the beginning of her problems.
Once Rh- comes in contact with an Rh+, certain antibodies are activated. This antibodies are activated to stop anything they think is a threat from coming into the body. E.g a baby. A Rh- woman with activated antibodies would keep having miscarriages. This is because the antibodies would keep fighting and taking off any fetus. The woman might end up childless and if not properly informed, she might think she is under a demonic oppression.
A person with Rh-negative blood who makes Rh antibodies is called “Rh sensitized.”
Women with activated antibodies are Rh sensitized and once these antibodies are activated, they can never be deactivated until the woman dies.
Antibodies are activated in a Rh- woman by abortion, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and child birth.
How does Rh sensitization occur during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the woman and fetus do not share blood systems. However, a small amount of blood from the fetus can cross the placenta into the woman’s system. This sometimes may happen during pregnancy, labor, and birth. It also can occur if an Rh-negative woman has had Amniocentesis, Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), bleeding, Manual rotation of a baby in a breech presentation before labor or blunt trauma to the abdomen during pregnancy
Do problems usually occur during the pregnancy that causes Rh sensitization?
During an Rh-negative woman’s first pregnancy with an Rh-positive fetus, serious problems usually do not occur because the baby often is born before the woman’s body develops many antibodies. If preventive treatment is not given during the first pregnancy and the woman later becomes pregnant with an Rh-positive fetus, the baby is at risk of Rh disease.
Can a woman still develop antibodies if my pregnancy is not carried to term?
If an Rh-negative woman becomes pregnant after having abortion, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage, she does not receive treatment, and the fetus is Rh positive, the fetus may be at risk of Rh-related problems.
How does Rh sensitization kill the fetus (baby) during pregnancy?
Problems during pregnancy can occur when Rh antibodies from an Rh-sensitized woman cross the placenta and attack the blood of an Rh-positive fetus. The Rh antibodies destroy some of the fetal red blood cells. This causes hemolytic anemia, where red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can replace them.
Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Without enough red blood cells, the fetus will not get enough oxygen. Hemolytic anemia can lead to serious illness. Severe hemolytic anemia may be fatal to the fetus.
How can a woman find out if she has become Rh sensitized?
A blood test, called an antibody screen, can show if you have developed antibodies to Rh-positive blood and how many antibodies have been made. If you are Rh negative and there is a possibility that your baby is Rh positive, your physician may request this test during your first trimester and again during week 28 of pregnancy.
Can Rh Sensitization be prevented or cured?
The antibodies can be stopped from being activated by administering an injection known as Rh Immunoglobulin (Rhlg) to a negative woman. RhIg is made from donated blood. When given to a non-sensitized Rh-negative person, it targets any Rh-positive cells in the bloodstream and prevents the production of Rh antibodies. When given to an Rh-negative woman who has not yet made antibodies against the Rh factor, RhIg can prevent fetal hemolytic anemia in a later pregnancy.
The injection is administered 28wks into pregnancy, 72 hrs after delivery, after ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or abortion. If it’s not administered and the antibodies are activated, it would never be deactivated.
What if a woman is Rh sensitized and her fetus is Rh positive?
If you are Rh sensitized, you will be monitored during pregnancy to check the condition of your fetus. When tests show that your baby has severe anemia, it may be necessary to deliver your baby early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or give a blood transfusion while your baby is still in your uterus (through the umbilical cord). If the anemia is mild, your baby may be delivered at the normal time. After delivery, your baby may need a transfusion to replace the blood cells.
We need to continue to promote proper rhesus factor sensitization. A lot of women like Nancy are left helpless after one mistake.
Please share this post with as many women you know.
Mothers tell your girls and sisters, a Rh- girl must be extremely careful. Because of the very small number of Rh- people ,it’s extremely rare to find a Rh- man. The possibility to get pregnant for a rh+ man is high. Once she gets pregnant for a positive man and rushes to have a quick abortion, she might have as well jeopardized her life.
Apart from this, a woman with a negative rhesus factor has no problem. It can however be controlled with Rh Immunoglobulin injection.
A Rh- man or woman cannot receive blood donation from a Rh+. It would lead to death as the blood would immediately clog and cake.