Strep B Testing During Pregnancy
In the last few weeks of your pregnancy (between week 35 and 37, commonly), you will most likely be tested for Group B streptococcus, or GBS. This is a bacteria that is naturally occurring in the intestines, vagina, and rectum of approximately 15-45% of all healthy women. The test procedure is uncomplicated — a swab around your rectum and vagina that is sent off to a lab, with results in a couple of days. There are normally no symptoms of carrying this bacteria, and it really isn’t a serious matter most of the time.
Indications that strep b may pose a health risk to your baby include:
- Urinary tract infection caused by GBS
- Premature rupture of membranes
- Fever in mother during labor
- GBS bacteria in urine sample
- Having a previous baby infected by GBS
In cases that your GBS test is positive, and especially if you have any of the above risk factors, your doctor will urge that you be place on an IV drip of antibiotics during labor, to decrease the possibility of spreading GBS to your baby.
Health concerns to your baby
Even though it is very atypical that a baby does not survive a GBS infection, it is necessary to be aware of the possible outcomes if your baby does contract GBS. These include:
- Breathing problems
- Kidney problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
What if I Test Positive to Step B?
Don’t panic! It really isn’t that uncommon, rarely causes complications, and, if many risk factors are present, it is easily treated. In fact, in the UK, routine screening for GBS isn’t even done, unless the mother shows signs (such as bladder infections or fever) of GBS being a problem. Overuse of antibiotics to treat Step B can actually cause added problems, as it may cause bacteria to become resistant in the future.
How Can I Prevent Strep B?
There is no medically recognized way to prevent Strep B. Nonetheless, there is evidence that suggests taking the probiotic during the last 8 weeks of pregnancy has dramatically bettered your chances of not having Strep B. How does this work? Strep B is naturally occurring in many women’s intestinal systems, and probiotics help keep bacteria in a healthy balance. Acidophilus has shown significantly effective in preventing a Strep B colonization. Again, there don’t seem to be any “official” medical research projects on this, but there is much testimonial evidence throughout the natural birthing community that this can be extremely effective in helping test negative on your GBS test. Eating other foods high in probiotic/antibacterial properties, such as yogurt and garlic, may also decrease Strep B colonization.