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Group Beta Strep During Pregnancy

What is Group Beta Strep and Why you should know about it

Group Beta Strep (long name – Group B Streptococcus) is a bacteria that can live inside your perineal area (aka, your vagina/rectum/urethra). It’s a common, normal bacteria that live in about 25% of women!

We all have normal strands of good bacteria that live inside of our bodies, and Group Beta Step is just another one of those strands for some people! It’s NOT a sexually transmitted disease. ⁣

What does Group Beta Strep (GBS) have to do with pregnancy?⁣

Group Beta Strep bacteria are not harmful to you at all, but, the bacteria can be passed from you to your baby during labour and lead to infection in the first week of life (early-onset infection). This can be harmful to your baby if you test positive for it.

Group Beta Strep Pregnancy Bacteria
Gbs Bacteria Are Not Harmful To You At All, But It Can Be Harmful To A Baby If You Test Positive For It.

When the baby passes through your birth canal, he/she is covered in fluids/bacteria etc, and if you are Group Beta Strep positive, one of these Group Beta Strep bacteria may be included.

Group Beta Strep can be harmful to the baby because the baby can contract either meningitis or become septic (get a blood infection) from this bacteria. ⁣

Group Beta Strep Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of possible GBS infection include the following:

  • Blotches of red skin on the body
  • Cyanosis (blue tint to the skin)
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing, fast breathing, or periods of not breathing
  • Difficulty waking up from sleep
  • Fever
  • Fussiness or irritability
  • Lethargy or “limpness”
  • Moving one or more limbs less often than others
  • Poor feeding
  • Seizures or convulsions

Most babies who develop Group Beta Strep recover without complications, but, as with may bacterial infections, severe cases do sometimes occur.

Testing for Group Beta Strep

Your healthcare provider will test you at about 35-37 weeks gestation. Tests done earlier in your pregnancy aren’t a good guide to your condition at birth because the bacteria can come and go. The test involves taking a swab of the inside of the vagina. Your doctor or midwife will do this, or you may be able to do it yourself.

If you test positive, you’ll need IV antibiotics during labour to help rid the bacteria from your body, to help protect the baby. The standard safeguard is that you’ll need IV antibiotics 4 hours before you deliver, this gives the IV medication enough time to kill the bacteria before the baby is born. ⁣

Don’t feel guilty about a positive test. You did not get it from anything you did. GBS is found in the human body, most commonly the intestinal and genital tracts. In healthy individuals, it typically does not cause illness.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), A pregnant woman who tests positive for GBS bacteria and gets antibiotics during labour has only a 1 in 4,000 chance of delivering a baby who will develop GBS disease. If she does not receive antibiotics during labour and is a carrier of the Croup Beta bacteria, her chance of delivering a baby who will develop a Group Beta Strep related disease is 1 in 200.

Okay, but what if I don’t make it to the hospital in time for my IV?

If for some reason you do not make it to the hospital to get your IV antibiotics in a timely manner, it’s OKAY!

In most hospitals, what will happen is they will want to just watch the baby in the hospital for any symptoms for at least 48 hours, and they MAY want to draw blood from your baby to see if the baby’s blood counts indicate any signs of infection. ⁣

With that said, do take into consideration your timing of arriving at the hospital/birth centre if you are GBS positive (unless of course your labour goes so quickly and you can’t control it!) ⁣

Do I really have to be connected to an IV the whole time?⁣

No! IV infusions are only 30 mins, so you can just get the antibiotics, and then if you wish to be disconnected from the tubing, that’s totally fine!⁣

Group B Strep and Cesarean Birth

Women who have a cesarean birth do not generally need to be given antibiotics for GBS during delivery if their labour has not started and the amniotic sac has not ruptured (their water has not broken).

With that said, it’s advisable to still be tested for GBS because, even with the best planning in the world, labour may happen before a cesarean birth.

Other things to consider

  • GBS is found in the human body, most commonly the intestinal and genital tracts. In healthy individuals, it typically does not cause illness.
  • GBS is not a sexually transmitted infection, is not transmitted through sharing food or drinks, and you don’t get it through surface transmission.
  • GBS is not passed through breastfeeding, so carriers can safely breastfeed their babies.
  • GBS is a different bacteria than the one that causes strep throat (group A strep).
  • In adults with advanced age and/or chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, GBS can infect other parts of the body (such as the lungs, brain, or blood) and make a person very sick. This is called GBS disease.3
  • It is unknown (aside from during childbirth) how GBS spreads from person to person.
  • The bacteria is not always present and detectable in the body and may come and go. You may test positive in one pregnancy and negative in another.
  • You cannot give GBS to your partner or your other children.

So there we have it and we hope that clears some stuff up!!

Remember, this article is not intended to stress you out our scare you 😊 but it’s important you are informed. Pregnancy will be a new thing for many of you so we share the above information in the spirit of making sure you are as prepared as possible.

Were you tested for Group B Strep? What were your experiences?

Let us know in our comments.

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15 Comments

  1. What if your urine test came back with GBS at 11 weeks? My midwife said no need to check again at 37 weeks since im already positive. But they didnt even do the swab it came back in my culture. Wouldnt do check it at 37 weeks anyways?

  2. Realize this is an old post but wondering if you’ve heard of testing for GBS during the first trimester? I’m 9 weeks and my Ob tested me for it, came out positive and she’s having me do a round of penicillin already.

  3. I would add to be prepared for a pretty painful administration of penicillin!! That SHOCKED me and I was begging for ice and dreaded those 30 minutes. The burning was bad enough I was more focused on it than the contractions. I wish they warned me! Really hoping to be negative for my second 🥴

  4. Hey, Claire, this was me! tested +. Didn’t get to hospital to get the antibiotics 4 hrs prior. Was having major contractions every 3 minutes (thought they were Braxton Hicks lol). Finally went in and nurse said I was 6cm dilated and had to get epidural and antibiotics right away. Delivered less than 3hrs later🤷🏽‍♀️

  5. I’m currently 36 weeks and have yet another yeast infection, so I’m doing a 7 day treatment, does that affect the outcome of the GBS test when i take it (which will likely be next week while I’m on the last day of the cream)?

  6. It is possible I got a false negative for GBS. I gave birth at 37 weeks. Baby was born with respiratory distress and a low blood count. He had to stay in the NICU for 10 days on antibiotics and breathing machines. I wouldn’t wish the NICU on anybody! How helpless you feel as the parent when your baby is in there. At the end of it all , the doc ruled it GBS or pneumonia for our little babe. He is doing great now at almost a month old as he scared us there for a minute. Whew!

  7. I tested positive and nobody was informed, not me or my midwife. I had sweeps, internal checks and went through labour all without antibiotics. I was informed 4 weeks pp. Thanks #nhs 😒

  8. I tested negative for gbs at 36 weeks and had a normal vaginal birth, and when bubs was 3 days old we rushed her to the hospital as she was lifeless and wouldn’t feed only to discover she had gbs meningitis and septicaemia! Urgh was horrible, BUT she’s a miracle baby, survived and no lasting effects, she’s almost 6yrs old and an incredible child 😍.

Posted By Claire

Claire is our Community Manager here at New Moms Forum. A mom of two (almost grown-up babies), Claire has been building and operating community-based websites for almost 20 years. In her downtime, Claire enjoys spending time with her family and drinking copious amounts of red wine!

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