What is Group B Strep?

Okay, so you’ve probably downloaded an awesome pregnancy app, that you are obsessing over, and you’ve probably read ahead and see some tests that you will be due for in the coming months.

35-37 weeks, Group B Strep.

Okay, so what is this? Let me see if I give you some insight that is hopefully easy to understand!

Group B Strep is a common bacteria that is carried by your lower intestines or genital tract. It isn’t usually harmful to adults, so we have no idea that we carry it. But, in newborns, it can cause a serious illness known as Group B Strep Disease.

Group B Strep Disease in newborns comes in two forms: Early on-set and Late on-set.

With early on-set symptoms, the infant becomes sick within one week of birth, developing a fever, difficulty with feeding, and overall lethargy. Late on-set develops a week to a few months, but is usually within the first month after birth. The symptoms are difficulty breathing, fever, difficulty feeding and irritability. If you notice that your baby has any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

So, the best way to prevent these issues from happening? Having the Group B Strep test at your OB/Midwife’s office! It is most definitely the easiest test of the pregnancy. No joke. A small culture tube is used, with a q-tip cotton swab, a little swab of your lady bits, and you’re done! Totally simple. Like really — you’ll barely feel it.

About 10 to 30% of us women will carry Group B Strep around the vagina and the rectum, so don’t feel singled out, or like this makes you different. Without treatment, your baby has a 1 in 200 chance of getting GBS disease. With treatment, 1 in 4,000. Those are substantial odds.

When you go into labor, you will be given an antibiotic. Usually this is Ampicillin, unless there is an allergy, then Clindamycin or Vancomycin . This is infused in your IV, and you will barely even realize that you are being treated! Amazing, right?

And don’t forget, that you can safely have this done at your birth center, or at your home, if you choose homebirth. This will in no way interfere with your desires for an unmedicated childbirth, so no worries there. When we think of unmedicated childbirth, that is assumed to mean pain medication — so having an antibiotic should not make you feel that your birth plans are changing. It will, in no way, interfere with your delivery.

I hope this shed a little light to you about what GBS really is. If you have any further questions in regards to this, please ask your OB or Midwife! Don’t use Dr. Google. Dr. Google likes to scare us, and no one likes that.

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