Group B Strep – wassat?

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Spot the difference:

BUB.1: My waters broke almost eight hours before I gave birth, during which time I was left to labour in the comfort of home. My midwife only came near me about a minute or two before he arrived in the birth centre. I was on my feet the entire time, it was drug-free and I had utter freedom to move around. It was primeval.

BUB.2: My waters broke about eleven hours before I gave birth but I had to rush straight to hospital and was monitored for signs of contractions, which seven hours later had not started. I was moved into a delivery room, antibiotics were injected into my hand and I was hooked up to an IV drip to induce labour. For the four remaining hours I barely moved from the bed because I was attached to the IV. It was annoying.

Why the difference? Because when pregnant with BUB.2 I had tested positive for the bacteria Group B Streptococcus. I had BUB.1 in Australia where it is routine to screen every pregnant woman for GBS, which if passed from mother to baby in the womb or during labour, can prove fatal to the child. The bacteria lives harmlessly in 25 per cent of people, one in every 2000 births are affected by a GBS infection and 1 in 10 babies with an infection die.

I had forgotten all about GBS. I was only reminded of it by chance when my Mum mentioned a couple on the ITV programme This Morning who had lost their baby to it.

To be honest, because I tested negative for the bacteria in Australia, when I came back to the UK and got pregnant with BUB.2 I had forgotten all about GBS. I was only reminded of it by chance when my Mum mentioned a couple on the ITV programme This Morning who had lost their baby to it. Although I knew a positive result would mean I would need antibiotics in early labour, which might jeopardise my chances of another free-roaming birth centre experience, of course I had to test. The test is not offered routinely by the NHS here in the UK, so I sent off for a test from the internet (www.gbss.org.uk/test) towards the end of my pregnancy.

It was a totally different experience than with BUB.1. With him I never wanted to leave the room he had arrived in. With BUB.2 I couldn’t wait to leave. But I left with a healthy, living baby.

When the result was sent via text to me a week or so later I was shocked to see the word ‘positive’ on my phone. I had expected it to be negative again. At my next midwife appointment I mentioned the result and she stamped ‘GBS’ all over my notes. This was a fact that was clearly not to be missed. This was important. It is important. But it had been up to me (and my Mum) to know about it. To test for it. To potentially prevent it. I was instructed to go straight to the hospital at the first sign of labour, in my case my waters breaking during the night. Once your waters have broken, the baby is unprotected and could pick up a bacterial infection. It’s important to administer antibiotics during labour to lessen the chances of infection. Rather than let nature take its course, I was induced first thing in the morning. It was a totally different experience than with BUB.1. With him I never wanted to leave the room he had arrived in. With BUB.2 I couldn’t wait to leave.

But I left with a healthy, living baby.

I had to stay in hospital for 24 hours so BUB.2 could be monitored every hour for signs of infection. He was fine. The seriousness of the GBS stickers across my notes, and the friendly head poking around the hospital curtain every hour after birth, stays with me. Why, if it is so serious, is every pregnant woman in the UK not screened?

When I got pregnant with BUB.3, the midwife said there was no need to do a further test because as a known carrier of the bacteria, I was treated as positive. GBS was again stamped across my notes and I was told to come straight in and the first signs of labour, which again was my waters breaking. My hand was again punctured by antibiotics. Fortunately this time my contractions ramped up quickly without the need for an induction. As it turned out, she was an undiagnosed breech, so I was dashed into theatre and she arrived quickly anyway. Again, she was monitored for any signs of infection in the 24 hours after birth. And she was fine. Which is something this couple, who lost their baby daughter to GBS infection at birth, cannot say. They are calling on the UK Government to make it a legal requirement to screen every pregnant woman for GBS and to give antibiotics to high-risk mothers when delivering their baby, and to monitor those babies following the birth.

I’ve signed this petition because an item on morning TV could have potentially saved the life of BUB.2 or BUB.3. A terrifying thought.

Rhyming with Wine
Pink Pear Bear

  14 comments for “Group B Strep – wassat?

  1. May 30, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I had GBS too and found out as I got it privately tested. It is common totest for in other European countries (including my own country of birth) so I was quite shocked to hear it is not routinely tested for in uk. And hence why I got it done via the same route as you did.

    • May 30, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      Yes, like me, routinely tested in Australia then nothing here. Thank goodness we knew about the private tests eh? Thanks for reading!

  2. May 30, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Great that you blogged about this. Ignorance is NOT bliss and it is frightening to think that it was by chance that you got tested and that many others, by chance, won’t. I had 4 girls, two at home. The first at home (No.3 baby) would have died, had the paramedics not arrived in time to give her oxygen, as the NHS stopped midwifes from routinely carrying it. Btw, I also had a breech birth – No.1 baby. I wanted to push and the midwife said: would you mind just having this monitor on you, we think it might be breech. I hardly knew what a breech baby was! I delivered naturally, she’s now 16, happy endings all round. A great post. Alison (Madhousemum) #FartGlitter

    • May 30, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      Thank you! Ah that’s great no.3 was OK despite a dramatic start, that’s so scary. Totally brilliant you managed to deliver no.1 naturally. I kind of wish I had had the chance too with my breech baby but it all happened so quickly and by then I just wanted her delivered safely. It was quite a shock! It’s not for the faint-hearted this parenting lark! 🙂

  3. May 30, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    This is the first post I have read about GBS and my labours sound a lot like yours but in reverse. My first birth was induced as I had gone 2 weeks past due date. I was hooked up to every machine and drip going and totally immobile. My daughter was healthy and perfect. My second labour was like a dream, water birth, cosy midwife led unit, just us and my community midwife. I was at home with my perfect and healthy baby 2 hours after having given birth. First weight check at 5 days – all fine, just a couple of oz loss. Then in the following week he just seemed to sleep all the time. I had to try and wake him for feeds and he would seem to feed for about an hour. He was a little jaundiced and his tummy cord seemed a bit icky but I spoke to midwife who assured me all normal. Then he was weighed again a week later and had lost a massive 14 ozs in a week. I’m amazed that we didn’t see it or pick up on it? Our first baby never lost an oz and so we just weren’t prepared for it? We went straight to hospital where they monitored us feeding (breast fed) and just diagnosed him as a lazy feeder. I ramped up the feeds and was feeding pretty much hourly 24 hours a day. It helped, but it was a week later before we got test results back to say that he had Group B Strep. “OK” I said and trotted home with antibiotics. I then googled it and read the horrifying statistics and facts that it can be fatal in 10% of cases. I was terrified. No explanation had been given to me and yet it seems to actually be quite a common condition – just fairly rare that it does actually get passed to the baby. I am so pleased to say that my little man went on to make a swift and complete recovery and now eats like a baby dinosaur, but I think we were extremely lucky. We don’t plan to have any more children but I would definitely insist on the antibiotics next time around now that I know what GBS is. Fantastic post and it’s great that you’re sharing this vital information. Dawn x

    • May 30, 2016 at 10:20 pm

      You see, this is amazing, thank you so much for reading and commenting. I just imagine everyone is blogging about this but they’re not. People are still shocked that this is happening. I keep hearing about people who didn’t know anything until their baby became poorly. 10% is high! Any percent is unacceptable. You must have been horrified to imagine what could have happened to your little guy. I am so happy to hear he pulled through. My heart aches for those who don’t, when it could be so easily prevented or at least the risk could be lessened considerably. Thanks for sharing your story with me, so pleased it was a happy ending for you!

      • June 13, 2016 at 12:51 pm

        I also had gbs 13 years ago when i was 26 weeks pregnant ,my waters had broken two weeks befor and was already in hospital, i had the antibiotics but had an alerge to them ,i had my baby girl three days later she was 1lb 4oz and 12 inch long shes now 13 and 5.4 feet .

  4. May 30, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    … oops – sorry about the epic comment. It’s a topic close to my heart x

    • May 30, 2016 at 10:21 pm

      Absolutely no need to apologise!I can quite imagine it is close to your heart! I will continue to tell every pregnant woman I know about it, and risk boring the world to death with it! It’s too important, as your healthy little man proves.

  5. June 1, 2016 at 4:04 am

    I read Dawn’s post about this too. There are way too many things that can go wrong with tiny babies. So stressful. I have signed xxx

    #fartglitter

    • June 1, 2016 at 9:07 pm

      Thank you, and thanks for reading. So scary. Some good must come of people talking about it more! xx

  6. June 14, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I too, cannot believe that there isn’t mandatory routine screening for every single woman for this. There are so many other routine tests performed, that to do this should seriously be automatically added. I’m so pleased for you that although you may not necessarily have had the birth experiences you wanted, that the condition was found, and you have 3 healthy babies. I don’t know many people who have been affected by this, just one friend who went to hospital at 36 weeks thinking her waters had broken, but it was actually fluid leaking from an infection site internally, so they did the test with a load of others, and she was found to be positive. Had she not thought her waters had gone, she would never have found out. There should be more awareness raised about this! I will be signing. xx
    #bigpinklink

    • Lisa
      June 14, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      Good lord, really? Never heard of someone finding out like that. She was fortunate then. Thanks for reading and signing and please spread the word! xx

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