What is it?

The four major blood types are A, B, AB and O. Each of these are either rhesus positive or rhesus negative. Rhesus negative means the blood does not have a protein known as ‘D antigen’ on the surface of your red blood cells. Being rhesus negative isn’t usually a problem.

Being rhesus negative can be a problem if you are pregnant and your baby is rhesus positive. If you become pregnant, it is important to talk to your GP.

Any kind of bleeding in pregnant rhesus negative women is serious. Bleeding leads to the baby’s blood cells mixing with your own. Bleeding can happen at any stage. Miscarriage, termination, trauma, birth and certain tests can cause blood cells to mix. Your body will atack the rhesus positive blood, this is called sensitisation. It can cause problems for future pregnancies.

What will my GP do now?

Your GP will talk to you about your health and the cause of your bleeding. If you are bleeding, your GP will refer you to be given an injection called ‘Anti-D’. Anti-D stops your body from attacking your baby’s rhesus positive blood. This should be given no later than 72 hours after the bleed.

If the bleed happens before 12 weeks, you may not need Anti-D. If you are less than 20 weeks, you will go to hospital for treatment. If you are more than 20 weeks, Anti-D will be given by the antenatal service.

If your body has already been sensitised, your GP will refer you to an antenatal clinic for monitoring.

What will my GP do in the future?

Your GP may make a follow-up appointment to discuss your own and your baby’s health. Your GP will want to see you if you get pregnant in the future.

What can I do?

See your GP as soon as you notice a bleed. Anti-D must be given within the first three days after bleeding. Talk to your GP about your blood type and the risks.