A bit about Group B Strep

What do the hand-held notes of a worrying pregnancy for a chronic worrier look like? This: 👇🏻

While I’m know I’m incredibly lucky that my notes haven’t been slapped with a big “high risk” sticker, like some of my friends, the journey behind these stickers have caused no end of panic and stress for someone who worries a lot, like me.

At 30 weeks, on May Bank Holiday, our normally very wriggly baby stopped moving. All day. I tried everything that he/she normally responds to, such as drinking water, lying on my left side, and even playing The Greatest Showman soundtrack (the kid has excellent taste in music!) but nothing. I was terrified and after a call to my antenatal unit, was told to come in and be monitored. Thankfully, and by sheer Sod’s law, baby started kicking up a storm as soon as we arrived and, feeling better, I was sent on my way.

Then, 6 days later, it happened again. This time, after being monitored and ascertaining that baby was fine, I was sent for a scan the next day to check cord blood flow and fluid around the baby. Thankfully, these also came back fine.

Then a week after the second period of reduced movement, baby stopped moving again. So back in I went for more monitoring and scans, which again all came back fine, and my midwife put it down to baby hiding behind my anterior placenta/being a contrary little sod.

Then not long after, my midwife rang to say that a routine urine test at my last appointment had shown I had Group B Strep. I didn’t know much about it except that it can be fatal to babies, so naturally I was terrified.

As it turns out, about 1 in 5 women carries Group B Strep, and it’s not normally picked up as it’s not routinely tested for on the NHS because it’s rarely a problem unless it is passed on to the baby. If it is, then it can cause sepsis, pneumonia, or worse.

Thankfully the doctors assured me that the important thing is that they know about it, so both me and baby will be protected as much as possible. I would just need intravenous antibiotics during labour, 4 hours apart, and baby would be monitored for around 24 hours after birth, and as long as we get at least one dose of antibiotics at least 2 hours before birth, there was just a 1 in 3,000 chance that baby would get it. But my anxieties haven’t stopped me worrying that our baby will be poorly, or worse, and because I’m the carrier, that it will be all my fault. I may have even had it with Isla, but as it comes and goes, I’ll never know.

But when I posted about GBS in one of my mummy Facebook groups, I had a huge amount of reassuring comments from other mums (over 70!) who all said they’d tested positive, had antibiotics, and both had been totally fine. It seems that the most important thing is that it’s picked up, so the doctors can treat it.

At least some good has come out of my worrying pregnancy – a good friend of mine has ordered a private test for Group B Strep (it’s not offered on the NHS) and as many of my friends had never even heard of it, it also feels good to be spreading the word about it.

It does beg the question though – if it can be life threatening for babies, why aren’t mums routinely screened for it? Mine was picked up in a standard urine test, so how hard could it be to just make it a routine check if it means babies’ lives are saved!?

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