What is a Rhogam Shot?

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During surrogate pregnancy, some women are advised to receive an Rh-immune globulin injection. This medication, more commonly known as Rhogam, is often given to women who carry a “negative” blood type.

All people have two elements to their blood type. There is first the actual type, represented by a letter (A, B, AB, or O), and then a positive or a negative designation. This designation refers to the presence or absence of Rhesus in the blood. Rhesus is an antigen that rests on the surface of red blood cells and occurs in most people. An Rh+ designation denotes that your blood carries this antigen.

For women whose blood type is Rh-, issues can arise in pregnancy if there is any chance that the fetus you are carrying may inherit an Rh+ status. In the case of surrogacy, if either the egg donor or sperm contributor is Rh+, there will be a chance of the baby inheriting this antigen.

It may be entirely possible that, through the use of an egg donor, the child will have a blood type that differs from you or the intended parents.

This presents a problem if the Rh- carrier’s blood were to mix with the Rh+ fetus’ blood. In that situation, the Rh- carrier would begin to develop antibodies to the Rh+ blood. These antibodies could cause problems in the current pregnancy, and would be very likely to attack and kill the red blood cells of a future Rh+ fetus.

For this reason, many surrogates may be asked to accept the Rhogam injection. The injection is very common and considered standard care. It is administered in office by your OBGYN typically in the 28th week of pregnancy. A second booster shot is often given immediately following the birth. In some cases, specifically if you experience bleeding early in your pregnancy, the Rhogam injection may be given earlier in the pregnancy.

You should note that previous administration of a Rhogam injection does not safeguard you for a future pregnancy. In that way, even if you’ve had the injection several times before, you’ll still need to be immunized again for each new pregnancy.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.