Blood type has no effect on your ability to have and maintain a happy, healthy marriage. There are some concerns about blood type compatibility if you’re planning to have biological children with your partner. But there are also options during pregnancy that can help counteract these risks.
It’s a good idea to know your partner’s blood type in the event of an emergency. And, depending on you and your partner’s blood type, you may even be able to donate blood to in an emergency.
Everybody has a blood type. There are four major blood groups: A, B, O, and AB. These groups differ primarily on the presence or absence of antigens that can stimulate an immune response.
In addition to these four groups, a protein called Rh factor that may be either present (+) or absent (-) within each group. This further defines blood groups into eight common types: A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+, AB-. Your blood type is something you inherit, so it is predetermined at birth. You cannot change your blood type later in life.
Rh factor can be a concern if the biological mother is Rh- and the baby is Rh+. Blood cells from an Rh+ baby crossing its Rh- mother’s bloodstream might trigger an immune response. The mother’s body might form antibodies to attack the baby’s Rh+ red blood cells.
When a mother-to-be and father-to-be are not both positive or negative for Rh factor, it's called Rh incompatibility.
If a woman who is Rh negative and a man who is Rh positive conceive a baby, the fetus may have Rh-positive blood, inherited from the father.
Rh incompatibility usually is not a problem if it is the mother's first pregnancy. This is because the baby's blood does not normally enter the mother's circulatory system during the pregnancy. But during the birth, the mother's and baby's blood can mix. If this happens, the mother's body recognizes the Rh protein as a foreign substance. The mother’s blood might then begin making antibodies (proteins that act as protectors if foreign cells enter the body) against the Rh protein.
Here comes the real risk. Rh antibodies are harmless until the mother's second or later pregnancies. If she is ever carrying another Rh-positive child, her Rh antibodies will recognize the Rh proteins on the surface of the baby's blood cells as foreign. Her antibodies will pass into the baby's bloodstream and attack those cells.
This can make the baby's red blood cells swell and rupture. This is known as hemolytic or Rh disease of the newborn. It can make a baby's blood count get very low.
If you're not sure what your Rh factor is and think you're pregnant, it's important to start regular prenatal care as soon as possible, including blood-type testing. With early detection and treatment of Rh incompatibility your baby can be safe.
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