Rh Incompatibility & Birth Trauma | Scott Goodwin Law

Rh Incompatibility & Birth Trauma

by / Wednesday, 22 November 2023 / Published in Birth Trauma
Sleeping newborn baby.

When someone finds out they’re expecting a baby, it’s natural to wonder about what things they might have in common with their child. However, one thing they might not think about is whether or not there might be incompatibilities between the mother’s blood and the baby’s. But if there is an issue with Rh compatibility, it can lead to significant complications if not managed properly. 

What is Rh Incompatibility?

A Rhesus (Rh) factor refers to a type of protein that can be found on red blood cells. If a person’s blood doesn’t have this protein, they are Rh negative. If they do have the protein, they are Rh positive. Whether a person is Rh positive or Rh negative, it won’t have an impact on their overall health or their day-to-day lives. However, it can be an issue during pregnancy if the mother is Rh negative and their baby is Rh positive. 

Even though a mother’s blood and a baby’s blood are generally kept separate, it is possible for small amounts of their blood to come into contact with each other during pregnancy. Typically, this happens during prenatal tests like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, if the baby is in a breech position and needs to be manually moved into the correct position before labor, if the mother experiences a traumatic force to the stomach, or if some of the baby’s blood crosses through the placenta.

If the mother’s blood comes into contact with the baby’s blood and there is an issue with Rh compatibility, what happens is that the mother’s body reacts to the baby’s blood as if it were something that needs to be fought off. The mother’s body produces Rh antibodies, which can cross the placenta and attack the baby’s blood.

Complications of Rh Incompatibility

When the mother’s body has an adverse reaction to the baby’s blood, it can lead to serious conditions for the baby. When the baby’s blood is attacked, it can result in hemolytic anemia, which in turn, can lead to other complications like brain damage, jaundice, and heart failure. In severe cases, Rh incompatibility can be fatal.

Issues with Rh incompatibility tend to be most significant in second pregnancies and onward. This is because it takes time for the mother’s body to react to the presence of Rh-positive blood, so Rh negativity in first pregnancies are often uncomplicated. However, in subsequent pregnancies, the body is better prepared to produce the antibodies that can harm the baby.

Treating & Managing Rh Incompatibility

It is possible to prevent issues with Rh incompatibility if the mother hasn’t had a chance to produce Rh antibodies. In these situations, an expectant mother can be given shots of Rh immune globulin during pregnancy and after delivery so that her body won’t start producing the antibodies that may affect future pregnancies. However, if the mother has already had the chance to start producing the antibodies, it’s very important for her doctor to carefully monitor her pregnancy to watch for signs of anemia. In serious cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary for the baby before delivery or shortly after birth. Early delivery may also be advisable.

Contact a Michigan Birth Trauma Lawyer

When doctors fail to provide patients with proper prenatal care or follow recommended practices after delivery, mothers and babies can both be significantly harmed. Birth trauma cases are often cases of medical malpractice and if you or your baby have experienced injuries during delivery or shortly after birth, it’s important to have a lawyer on your side who can help you get the justice you deserve. 

At Scott Goodwin Law, you’ll be able to get help from a Michigan-based birth trauma lawyer. We’re also experienced in handling medical malpractice cases. Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation so that you can get answers to any questions you have about your situation.