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Group B Strep- what to do?

(24 Posts)
blushes Fri 09-Oct-09 12:07:06

An emotive topic, this...

Like many women, I've tested positive for Group B strep. I'm 24 weeks pregnant and the pregnancy has been normal so far.

From what I can gather, the risks are very low of my baby being infected by Group B Strep- the actual numbers of babies affected each year is tiny compared to the number of carriers who give birth, many of them without even knowing- but the consequences could of course be dire.

Part of me is convinced that there's nothing else for it but to agree to having iv antibiotics throughout labour. Afer all, it brings the risk down even further to around 1 in 6000. This part of me shrieks "fool!" at thought of refusing the treatment. How would I feel if the worst happened?

However, another part of me is dubious. I'm finding it difficult to weigh up the risks of the antibiotics to me and the baby (anaphylaxis, allergies in the baby, affecting the baby's gut flora?... anything else?) against the risks of my baby contracting Group B Strep.

I just don't know how to make this decision.

I wonder if there's a middle way to manage this without being pumped full of ABs throughout labour...

Of course, I'll discuss this with my consultant. But if there are any health professionals reading- or mums who have been there and made a decision either way re antibios- I'd be grateful for your advice.

Sorry for the long post.

blushes Fri 09-Oct-09 12:48:09

Hopeful bump

Mybox Fri 09-Oct-09 12:52:08

I've had this for two pregnancies & didn't have antibiotics as gave birth too quickly for them to be useful. One little one had antibiotics afterwards but the other not, iirc, as the waters only broke as she was being born.

rolledhedgehog Fri 09-Oct-09 12:54:02

Seems very early to be tested for group b strep. It comes and goes doesn't it? Also once you are tested and confirmed as positive in one pregnancy you are assumed to be a carrier in all future pregnancies.

I was swabbed at 30 wks due to waters leaking and then induced at 31 weeks and didn't find out that I was Group B strep positive until the baby was 2 weeks old! So obviously hopsital were either not bothered or just rubbish (probably the latter). I am really glad I didn't know personally and also glad that it was my 3rd baby and I won't be having any more.

Sorry not much help, its a tough decision.

rolledhedgehog Fri 09-Oct-09 12:55:01

Sorry meant 40 wks not 30!

Mybox Fri 09-Oct-09 12:55:31

Agree with rolledhedgehog it is early to be tested as it can come & go.

blushes Fri 09-Oct-09 13:12:13

Thanks ladies. It was picked up on a swab when I went in with stomach pains last week- so it was a coincidence that it was picked up at 23 weeks.

I would imagine that they'll do another test later on. Problem is that the test is rubbish- only around 50% of cases are picked up and false negatives are common. So even if a test comes back negative later in the pregnancy, they can't assume it's correct. That's why they're recommending that I have ABs in labour at this early stage, I think. My fate is sealed (unless I say no of course).

Gah. Difficult decision.

whensmydayoff Fri 09-Oct-09 13:34:30

Hi blushes.

I am in same boat as you and I feel exactly the same about pumping myself and the baby full of antibiotics and yet fearful if I don't.
I was tested positive for Group B, 6 days after my son was born!!
They took a swab from me apparently when I arrived and my waters had already gone.
He was born by emerg c-section and they only got the results back 6 days later! It makes you wonder how much THEY care about Group B Strep? If they are so lax/useless at spotting it then should we be worrying about it? Who knows. You seem to know more than me though - what is the chance of the baby being affected if you are a carrier?
Im being treated this time, as a carrier so I will have to decide what Im going to do and Im so confused.
I had a nightmare feeding my son due to him having oral thrush. Probably due to the antibiotics they give you for infection throughout a c section.
It is near impossible to get rid of it. It makes breast feeding extremley difficult and my god, your nipples hurt!
Im no help I know! I do have an appointment next fri (16th Oct). I will be 28 weeks and I will ask a lot more about it. I will come back and let you know what they say/think.

julietbat Fri 09-Oct-09 13:39:52

I've had no personal experience of this but I've just sent off my swabs to be tested (I'm 37 weeks with dc2) and if mine came back positive I have no doubt I'd take the antibiotics. I'm not normally a 'take the drugs' kind of person, much more a 'I'm sure it'll be fine' type of person but after a traumatic labour with dd (nothing related to group b strep) when she had to be rushed to the NICU straight after birth I've changed my stance a little. Now, for me, the chances of something so serious happening (if I knew I was positive) just wouldn't be worth the risk anymore.

I don't know of any middle way re: the antibiotics so I can't be of any help there, but just wanted to put my two pennies-worth in! You're right, the chances of something bad happening are very small but if you've ever even glimpsed the possibility of losing a baby in labour it makes you realise that if you can decrease those chances, you do.

Sorry if that sounds bossy (I'm a teacher by tradegrin) I only mean it as my personal experience.

cba Fri 09-Oct-09 13:51:52

I am 41 weeks pregnant with my fourth baby and have been positive for group strep b for baby 2 and 3.

I have iv drugs both times but because I laboured so quickly not enough time to get through. Baby2 then had to have iv antibiotics because of this.

Baby 3 I went in on my due date to get iv antibiotics before the labour so the baby didnt have to.

This time I have tested negative and the hospital seem ok to leave me. Whether that will change once I get there I dont know.

Hope this helps. If I tested positive I would have the antibiotics.

Pyrocanthus Fri 09-Oct-09 13:52:44

whensmydayoff - The chance of your baby being affected are far smaller if you have a c-section, so hence possible lack of interest.

I had a grim experience with GBS with first labour - fortunately me affected rather than the baby as she'd had precautionary antibiotics after a difficult labour, so was very much up for both antibiotics and c-section (other reasons for that too) the second time round. It's about balancing risk rather than personal anecdotes though, isn't it? Hard facts is what you need.

I think there's something about garlic on other threads on this topic, but I suspect the real choice is antibiotics or not.

Pyrocanthus Fri 09-Oct-09 13:53:17

Hard facts is? blush

blushes Fri 09-Oct-09 13:55:21

Not bossy at all, julietbat- very useful to have your input, especially from someone who has experienced what you have.

whensmydayoff, the stats are a bit unclear but its looks like the chances of your baby becoming ill from Group B Strep, if you're a carrier, can be as high as 1 in 400. That's the highest figure I've found.

With antibiotics apparently this risk is reduced to 1 in 6000. So for many it's a no-brainer. But then again, 1 in 400 is still a very small chance. And the risk of the mother going into anaphylactic shock from the ABs is apparently one in 10,000.

I think I will probably end up plumping for the antibiotics. I just hope it won't affect my labour and delivery too much. I'm assured that I will still be able to use the birthing pool etc. We'll see...

blushes Fri 09-Oct-09 14:30:17

cba thanks for the advice. Good luck with your fourth baby- I was one of four, it was a lovely number.

Pyrocanthus I had not heard of mothers becoming ill from Group B Strep, poor you. I'm hoping my consultant will give me some hard facts to help me make up my mind.

The garlic thing seems to be that you actually put a clove "up there" overnight.
Sounds a bit sore (not to mention smelly- brings a whole new meaning to "garlic breath!- ew, sorry, that was gross blush). Not sure about that at all, and even it does get rid of the bacteria, it doesn't solve the issue of a negative test being unreliable.

Pyrocanthus Fri 09-Oct-09 14:38:07

On the plus side, when the baby emerges clutching the garlic in its tiny fist, at least you know you've not spawned a vampire.

blushes Fri 09-Oct-09 14:53:44


tobago04 Fri 09-Oct-09 15:07:20

Hi,i was given antibiotics straight after the birth of my first dd as she arrived 22hrs after my waters broke,my dd was also given antibiotics,it turned out she had contracted strep b,i was just so relieved that she had been given the antibiotics,especially after a nurse gave me a leaflet on it,it scared the hell out of me.
Both of us were fine,second time round i was given antibiotics in labour and was gratful i did'nt have to worry about the strep b.
Am currently ttc for no.3 and would definatley have them again,although i must admit i don't really know anything about the side effects of antibiotics.
Just wanted to share a positive story with you,good lucksmile

claricebeansmum Fri 09-Oct-09 15:11:40

You can also go to the Group Strep B Support Group for more information.

DS ended up in SCBU but was OK.

I had the antibiotics and a very vigilant midwife for DD.

trixgus Fri 09-Oct-09 15:29:14

Hi blushes. If I were you I would ask to be re-swabbed at 35 weeks pregnant- if swab comes back positive I would accept the need for antibiotics. I have seen 2 babies die from Group B strep, and whilst the overwhelming majority of babies will be absolutely fine, it is heartbreaking to see a baby die with what was a preventable infection. I think the risk of anaphylaxis is really small, especially if you are not known to be allergic to any antibiotics. Good luck!

blushes Fri 09-Oct-09 15:52:34

Thanks so much for all the advice and for sharing your stories.

So sorry to hear about the babies you know who have died trixgus- how sad sad. It does make me think...

napa Fri 09-Oct-09 22:45:34

if you are planning to use the birthing pool at the hospital for labour and /or delivery be aware that a lot of hospitals have a policy that women who are GBS positive cannot use the pool.

Gemzooks Fri 09-Oct-09 23:44:52

I tested pos for strep b in first preg in Belgium and had iv antibiotics in labour. Second pregnancy in Holland, asked for home water birth, no problem. They didn't suggest even testing for it. I looked up the stats and decided to take the risk, also trusting the Dutch health system, since they have no worse perinatal mortality than the UK.. one third of women carry it and it's just luck whether you're tested or not, testing is not standard. the alternative is you give one third of women antibiotics during labour..

tiredmelly Sat 10-Oct-09 00:30:05

My DD was born with GBS (Septicimia), she had antib's for 10 days. It wasn't a nice image of her birth and would plump for antib's everytime. Have since had DS whom I did have antib's in labour.

rainbowdays Sat 10-Oct-09 14:24:09

I found this Strep B website when I was diagnosed with strep B in my third pregnancy (probrably had it for first two, but was not tested). I found reading the links on the website useful too, for full information on the risks for and against having anti-b's in labour.

I was pressurised into dropping my homebirth plans and being told that I would have to accept having anti-b's as soon as I got to the hospital in labour. Despite me telling them that my previous birth was only 2.5hours and therefore if I had another birth that quick, I would not get enough time for the anti-b's to take effect. So I was told that therefore my dc3 would be taken straight after birth to SCBU and giving anti-b's instead. My dc3 however had other ideas and arrived after only 1.5 hours labour at home, never had the opportunity to get to hospital for the anti-b's as by the time the ambulance arrived it was too late to transfer. Hospital then told midwife to keep the baby at home and just watch carefully for infection or any signs of illness for 48 hours.

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