GBS – Group B Strep: What You Need to Know
If you access your prenatal care through a typical OB or midwife you’ll likely receive a Group B strep (GBS) test sometime in the last month or two of pregnancy. And, if you're one of the 1 in 4 women who test positive, your care provider will want to talk to you about how Group B Strep might impact your delivery and your baby.
Group B strep is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in both pregnant and non-pregnant women's bodies. While Group B strep does not generally cause any trouble for women, it can be a cause of concern if a woman is planning to delivery vaginally.
1 in 2000 babies in the U.S. contract GBS during delivery. When a baby contracts GBS they can become seriously ill and experience breathing issues, heart and blood pressure problems, pneumonia, sepsis, or meningitis. For a newborn, these issues can be life-threatening.
While it can feel scary to find out that your one of the 1 in 4 women who is a GBS carrier, it’s important to know that most babies born to GBS positive moms won’t contract the bacteria or experience any of the scary impacts. One of the most important things you can to to help ensure your baby stays safe and happy is to take antibiotics during labor and allow your baby to be monitored after birth.
So, how will taking antibiotics impact your labor plans? If you’re planning a medicated delivery your doctor will simply add antibiotics to your IV and you won't likely notice anything different than if you were receiving IV fluids or other medication.
If you're planning an unmedicated birth, you may need to adjust your plans. Most women planning a med-free birth prefer not to have an IV line since they won't be receiving any medication, but if you’re GBS positive you might need to adjust your expectations and make a plan to get an IV line placed. If freedom of movement is your concern you may be able to work with your doctor to have an IV port (to which an IV line can be hooked and unhooked) placed in your hand so that you can move freely when you’re not receiving antibiotics.
Whether you end up with a medicated or unmedicated birth, taking antibiotics can help reduce your babies risk of contracting GBS and ensure a happy, snuggly newborn!