WTF is Group B Strep and How Do I have it?

“Seriously, what the fuck is Group B Strep and how the fuck do I have it.” This is totally what I was thinking when my midwife informed I tested positive for it. I have never tested positive for anything before! What the hell?!

My midwife informed me all pregnant women are tested for this after 36 weeks of pregnancy. This has been the norm, for about 20 years now. BUT wait a minute, I wasn’t informed I had this when I had my first daughter in 2005! Apparently it’s not something you are born with, or is it something you “catch”. (It’s not an STD, thank you very much) She informed me she didn’t have it with her first two pregnancies and tested positive each pregnancy after. (She may have just been trying to make me feel better….. I don’t know) I was informed I would have to be given antibiotics via an IV while in labor. Being that I’m allergic to penicillin, they tested to see what antibiotics would work. Vancomycin was the drug of choice (Which we then found out I was allergic to that too, while in labor). Excuse me while I have a melt down after being told I will need an IV with antibiotics during labor…..THIS IS NOT WHAT I HAVE IN MY BIRTH PLAN!

I decided I was going to do my research. I went home and started researching as much as I could about this. Here is what I found:

  • Group B Strep (Streptococcus) is an infection that can be found in pregnant ladies vagina or rectum
  • GBS is a tiny bacteria that can cause infections
  • Typically not serious for adults but can harm newborns
  • 1 out of 4 pregnant women carry GBS
  • GBS is not contagious so you cannot catch it from anything you touch or another person
  • GBS is a bacteria that lives naturally in your intestines or urinary tract
  • GBS can cause a uterine infection and/or a urinary tract infection
  • GBS is treated during labor and delivery with antibiotics which helps protect baby as well

Since I was treated with antibiotics during labor, the chances of passing GBS to my newborn was smaller. The pediatrics team at the hospital were great at following up with our daughter every 4 hours, to asses her for any alerts that point to GBS infection. This included temperature checks to insure she did not have a fever,which is a sign of infection.

If you are not treated for GBS while in labor, you have the chance of passing it to your newborn, which can cause a lot of health problems. A baby with a GBS infection can have one or more of these illnesses:

  • Meningitis, an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain
  • Pneumonia, a lung infection
  • Sepsis, a blood infection

Most babies who are treated for GBS do just fine. However, GBS infection may lead to health problems later in life. For example, about 1 in 4 babies (25 percent) who have meningitis caused by GBS can develop:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hearing problems
  • Learning problems
  • Seizures

It is important to get this test prior to delivery, be sure to ask your health care provider for more information!