You’ve probably clicked on this blog post because you either don’t have a clue what Group B Strep is or you want to know more.
Well I’m here to fill your mind with information about GBS & spread as much awareness of the bacteria as possible.
July is Group B strep awareness month, so lets start with the basics!
What is GBS?
Group B streptococcus known also known as GBS is a bacteria that can be present in our bodies, this bacteria can be found in both men & women & usually doesn’t cause any harm. GBS is a perfectly normal gut flora & whilst it doesn’t usually cause harm to us, in rare cases(and usually among those with existing health problems) adults can develop a GBS infection. It is much less common than infections in newborns but sadly does happen. GBS can cause illness in babies & in very rare cases even death.
GBS isn’t a sexually transmitted disease it can however be passed through sexual contact. Its completely normal & natural so don’t be concerned if you are GBS positive just keep reading so you are clued up on the issues it can cause in babies.
How can I be tested for GBS?
Sadly the NHS doesn’t routinely test for GBS but you can buy private tests from numerous laboratories & clinics, these can be found via the charity Group B Strep Support’s website. The test is extremely simple, so simple that you can actually take the samples yourself, you can of course ask your midwife to take them for you.
The test is best done at around 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy, once you have ordered your pack you will receive all the relevant information as well as two swabs. You simply swab the inside of your vagina & rectum. Once completed send your samples off & wait for your results. As long as you have filled in the correct details your nominated health professional will also receive a copy of your results.
Is the test painful?
No, as someone who tested themselves for GBS I can honestly say it doesn’t hurt. Make sure you take the test when you are relaxed & feel comfortable to do so.
Why should I get tested?
If you are GBS positive & aren’t given Intravenous Antibiotics or aren’t even aware of your GBS your baby could be infected with GBS. Complications can arise but with the correct treatment most babies will make a full recovery. These complications include septicaemia, pneumonia & meningitis. This was enough to make me decide to take the test.
Prevention is key with GBS, if you are aware you have GBS then you will be offered intravenous antibiotics in labour this will minimise the transmission of GBS to baby.
I received IV antibiotics in my labour, my son was checked every 2 hours for 12 hours after labour also. Please push for Antibiotics in labour, I was told I could go without them & they would just ‘see how baby is once he’s born’.
What are the signs of a GBS infection in my baby?
An infection caused by GBS infection can occur within seven days of birth, this is called early onset.
Some signs that you can look for in baby are: grunting, poor feeding, abnormal temperature(high or low) & irritability to name just a few. If you are worried make sure to check baby checked, its better to be safe than sorry.
Up to 25% of GBS infections are late-onset, occurring after the baby’s first 6 days, usually as meningitis with septicaemia. It is uncommon after a baby reaches one month old and very rare after three months of age. Currently there are no known ways of preventing late-onset GBS infections so identifying signs and symptoms of these infections is vital for early diagnosis and treatment.