This is just as much for me as it is for you. I got lucky with my first baby in that I was GBS negative (Group B Strep). I did not have to have antibiotics administered prior to the birth.
Here is what I know about it, and then below I will post the facts.
- If you’re GBS+, that does not mean that your baby will, without a doubt, get sick. It just means that antibiotics will help prevent passing the infection to your newborn.
- The test is done around 35 weeks by swabbing both the vaginal wall and the inside of the anus.
- The test is not fool proof-you may test negative and end up positive at birth. ( I personally know someone who was told she was negative and was positive at birth. Baby was very sick and in the hospital for 3 weeks.)
- If your baby contracts the infection, it is very serious, requiring lots of antibiotics and treatment in the NICU. The time varies from a week to several weeks depending on the severity of the infection.
- Once admitted to the hospital, antibiotics are giving through IV every 4 hours, the first dose taking the longest and not allowing the patient very much mobility (especially if in active, hard labor).
Summarized facts (from the CDC-click for direct link):
- In the US, GBS is the leading cause of meningitis and sepsis in newborns.
- 25% of women carry GBS in their vagina or rectum, and it may come and go throughout their lifetime without symptoms.
- A pregnant woman who is GBS positive and receives antibiotics during labor has a 1 in 4000 chance of delivering a baby with the infection.
- If a pregnant woman has had a UTI during her pregnancy and/or was positive GBS with a previous pregnancy she should be given antibiotics upon arrival in labor.
- Antibiotics can only be given during labor, not before, as the bacteria grows back quickly.
- GBS+ increases with age, 60 years old being the average of a non-pregnant woman.
The CDC makes it clear that early detection prior to labor and treatment during labor are the most effective ways to prevent passing GBS onto your baby…but how necessary is it? Educate yourself. Talk to you doctor or midwife. If you have reactions to antibiotics, discuss other methods of prevention and if you just don’t want antibiotics, find other methods. I know many home birth mamas opt out of the antibiotic and while this sounds risky (which it is) they use other, more natural forms to prevent the passing of GBS to their newborn.
Herbal/natural links (remember, I am NOT A DOCTOR…discuss these ideas with your provider first).