There are many things that we plan and make adjustments for, before we get married. But hardly do we pay heed to the medical concerns which are essential and for us and our partner’s future before consummating the marriage.
Knowing your partner’s blood type is an essential requirement before getting married, as it may determine the health of your child. You must be fully aware of your partner’s blood type.
It took a blood test for Kunle and Funmi Akinpelu to save their marriage. The couple, who got married in 2016, battled childlessness, which mounted a lot of pressure on them, especially Funmi.
In a recent encounter with Saturday PUNCH, Funmi narrated how she experienced miscarriage anytime she got pregnant for the first two years in their marriage.
She said each time the miscarriage occurred, she was depressed. Understandably, any would-be mother would feel sad about pregnancy loss.
The situation continued until mid-2018 when Funmi and her husband relocated from a small community in Osun State to Lagos State, when Kunle got a job as an artisan in the city.
When they got to Lagos, they were advised to visit a consultant, who asked them to do a blood test, which they never did at the village before marriage.
“There is just one health centre where we came from and actually, it never occurred to many of us to carry out any blood test before marriage,” Funmi said.
After the blood test, it was revealed the couple’s blood type was incompatible, because while Kunle had the A+ blood type, Funmi had the B- blood type.
In the following, medical experts have explained why the blood type of the couple is a serious issue, especially for pregnancy. Until they did the blood compatibility test and a solution was offered, the Akinpelus did not know how blood type could decide the health of their marriage.
According to Healthline Networks, a provider of health information headquartered in California in the United States, every partner must know the following information before marriage. The information is broken into segments as shown below:
What are the different blood types?
Everybody has a blood type and 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 Rhesus (Rh) factor 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+ and AB-.
How does blood compatibility affect pregnancy?
Compatibility in blood group is only a concern for couples if a pregnancy is involved where both partners are the biological parents. That’s because of Rh factor.
Rh factor is an inherited protein, so being Rh negative (-) or Rh positive (+) is determined by your parents. The most common type is Rh positive.
Being Rh positive or negative typically does not affect your health, but it could affect your pregnancy.
Rh factor and pregnancy
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. At your first prenatal visit, your doctor will suggest a blood type and Rh factor screening.
If you are Rh-, your doctor will test your blood again later in your pregnancy to see if you have formed antibodies against Rh factor. That would indicate that your baby is Rh+.
If your doctor identifies a potential for Rh incompatibility, your pregnancy will be monitored closely for any related issues and may need extra care.
Although the mother’s and the baby’s blood typically do not mix during pregnancy, a minimal amount of the baby’s blood and the mother’s blood could come in contact with each other during delivery.
If there’s an Rh incompatibility and this happens, the mother’s body might produce Rh antibodies against Rh factor.
These antibodies will not cause problems to an Rh+ baby during the first pregnancy. But they can cause issues if the mother has a subsequent pregnancy and carrying another child that is Rh+.
If there was an Rh incompatibility in a first pregnancy and there’s an Rh incompatibility in second and other future pregnancies, these maternal antibodies can damage the baby’s red blood cells.
If this occurs, the baby might need a red blood cell transfusion either during your pregnancy or immediately after delivery.
Rh- pregnant women can be exposed to the Rh protein that might cause antibody production in other ways too. These include miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg grows outside of the woman’s uterus. Almost all ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube. As the pregnancy grows, it can cause the tube to burst.
A rupture can cause major internal bleeding and this can be a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate surgery. Death might occur if care is not taken.
How is Rh incompatibility treated?
If Rh incompatibility has been diagnosed, the doctor will most likely recommend Rh immune globulin in the seventh month of pregnancy, and then again within 72 hours after delivery if the baby’s blood type is confirmed as Rh+ upon delivery.
Rh immune globulin contains Rh IgG antibody, so the mother’s body does not react to the baby’s Rh+ cells as if they were a foreign substance. A woman might also get a dose of Rh immune globulin if she has a miscarriage or any bleeding during pregnancy.
Blood group compatibility for marriage is limited to possible Rh factor incompatibility during pregnancy. And that is further limited to pregnancy where both partners are the biological parents.
Potential problems for Rh incompatibility are easily identified and monitored and there are treatments for positive outcomes.
Experts said the Rh factor compatibility should not affect the ability to have a happy, healthy marriage or to have healthy children with one’s spouse.
Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, a gynaecologist based in Ibadan, Oyo State, Dr Jide Oladokun, said couples should not treat knowing one another’s blood type with levity.
He added that marriage compatibility could sometimes depend on blood type compatibility. He said,
“Many lovers have yet to realise that a desirable marriage goes beyond just love. Sometimes, the love could melt if the necessary things are not done. The Rh factor is a very key factor.
Many couples don’t realise this until it is too late. The most important thing is just to do the blood test before marriage.”