GBS is a bacteria inside as many as a quarter of women. The majority of these women are unaware that they carry the bacteria because it shows no obvious symptoms. When you carry GBS in pregnancy there is a risk of the bacteria being passed onto the baby. This risk isn’t high but the risk can have a potentially fatal outcome.
When I was pregnant (both times) I discovered I was carrying the bacteria. Sometimes it can be present in a woman and sometimes it isn’t. It isn’t something that can be transmitted from one person to another so it baffled me why I had it. I still don’t fully understand it was never fully explained to me even in leaflets but I am so grateful I knew I had the infection. The only reason I found out I had GBS is because a had a very small bleed when I was around 30 weeks pregnant with my son and they did a swab to see if there were any infections to worry about, That swab showed up the bacteria and things were then put in place for my labour to prevent it from being transmitted to my son.
The second time around with my daughter I mentioned to my midwife about previously having GBS and she was very casual about it and said we don’t have to test if we don’t want to as it isn’t routinely screened for. I was determined I was being tested, I couldn’t put my daughters health at risk just because it wasn’t’ routine’. So the test was done and the bacteria was still present. We are one of very few countries that doesn’t test for this bacteria routinely. Although the risks rarely happen, they aren’t unheard of and I wish it was something more women knew of.
When you have GBS, during your labour you are given a course of antibiotics through a drip in your wrist, hand or arm (anywhere there is a vein I think). I didn’t find this painful, mine was inserted first time in to my wrist and second time into my hand. It feels like an injection, so if you’re a bit squeamish like me then look away when this happens! They say to go to the labour ward when your contractions are 5 minutes apart so there is time to get the course of antibiotics in to you. I was sent away both times even with contractions so close together but luckily with my son, once I was admitted I had a nice length of time before he arrived to get the antibiotics in.
When my daughter was born my contractions were all over the place (but extremely painful) one contraction could be 10 minutes away from the next but another one would follow 2 minutes after that. I knew she wasn’t far off being born but they weren’t going to admit me until my contractions were regular. Well, long story short as I screamed my way through each contraction Darren bundled me into the car and was very firm about me being checked. They admitted me straight away and I received my first course of antibiotics instantly. Then around half an hour later she was born!
Our daughter came very soon after finally being admitted so I was only able to have one course of antibiotics to prevent GBS being passed on to our baby. I was very panicked and kept reminding the midwives to check our new tiny baby just in case the GBS bacteria had been passed on to her. They were all very reassuring and once I had been put back together they focused on Mia. I kept thinking if I had just squeezed her in and made it to the next set of antibiotics then what was about to happen wouldn’t need to.
After being born my poor tiny baby had to have an IV inserted into her hand, she then needed her own set of antibiotics every 12 hours for a few days. Darren took her to each one of her injections it was lovely to see him so protective and I was pleased she was in great hands with him. They give her these as a precaution just in case the GBS bacteria has been passed on to her. For any mum that has Strep B and is worried about their baby having the IV, Mia didn’t cry, it didn’t seem to bother her at all. When the IV was inserted and each time she had her dose of antibiotics, she either slept or did those lovely little movements newborns do. It’s a necessary evil to help prevent anything fatal occurring.
We were so lucky with both of our children that we knew I had GBS and that our children were healthy when they were born. It is rare for a child to be affected, the statistics are 1 in 2,000. As rare as it is, it’s not unheard of and the statistics are currently that a huge 1 in 10 babies cannot survive once they contract GBS. If you are worried about Strep B in your pregnancy then it is worth just asking your midwife to screen you for it, some do agree later on in pregnancy or you can pay to have it done privately. Knowing you have it so that precautions are taken can be a huge relief. I am surprised that it isn’t routinely screened for in every pregnancy. The reasons they aren’t regularly screened for in every pregnancy is through concern that the GBS bacteria will become immune to the antibiotics.
All that is important is the health of this beautiful new tiny baby and I think every parent will agree that it’s better to be on the safe side with anything that involves our children.