How Being Group B Strep Positive Can Impact Your Birth Plan

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If you’re getting close to your due date, you’ve probably heard your doctor mention that they’ll soon be testing you (or already have) for Group B Strep. Group B Strep is a bacteria that is often present in the bodies of adults. Group B Strep is harmless in grown-ups but, if a newborn comes into contact with the bacteria during birth, it can cause serious complications.

To test if you are Group B Strep positive (meaning that you have the bacteria in your body) your doctor will swab the outside of your vagina and rectum around your 36th week of pregnancy. Test results usually take 2-3 days to come back and about one in four women will test positive. If you’re not Group B Strep positive your status won’t impact your birth plan at all. If you’re planning a C-section you also won’t need to worry about your Group B Strep status, as your baby won’t be moving through the birth canal. 

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If you are Group B Strep positive and are planning a vaginal delivery your doctor will recommend that you be treated with antibiotics during labor. These antibiotics, given intravenously, will help make sure that baby doesn’t contract GB Strep as they move through the birth canal. Most women who labor in a hospital have an IV line placed early in labor so your nurse will simply make sure that antibiotics are flowing in addition to any other fluids you may need. Many moms who are planning a med-free hospital birth are disappointed to learn that they’ll need intravenous antibiotics as they often opt to go without an IV line. If you find yourself disappointed rest assured there are ways to minimize the impact of having an IV during labor. If you’re worried about losing out on freedom of movement, ask if your hospital will allow a heparin lock. A heparin lock allows for you to be tethered to the IV pole only when antibiotics are actually flowing and have the line removed for freedom of movement when they’re not.

Many moms who desire to labor naturally also plan to labor at home for as long as possible before heading to the hospital. If you’re Group B Strep positive your doctor will probably advise you to come into the hospital as soon as your water breaks or earlier in labor than you had planned. If you find yourself needing to head to the hospital sooner than you’d hoped do your best to make the hospital room feel as homelike as possible. Bring music, dim the lights, and wear your own clothes if possible. Also, don’t feel as if you need to be in the bed just because you’re in the hospital. 

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Being Group B Strep positive can impact your birth plan but, if you know in advance and make a plan with your partner and care provider, it’s likely that you’ll go on to have a birth you feel good about!

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How Being Group B Strep Positive Can Impact Your Birth Plan

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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