I am Group B strep positive – What next?

Group B strep is a certain bacteria that lives in the vaginal or rectal area.  Between 10 and 35 percent of all healthy adult women have group B strep present in their system.  When Group B strep "colonizes" it manifests on a woman’s skin.  For every 100 colonized women with group B strep who have a baby, 1 or 2 babies are infected with these germs while they’re being born and can get sick.  Your doctor can do a skin culture to see if you have group B strep on your skin. Your doctor can also do a test similar to a Pap smear to see if it is inside your body.

If you have Group B strep and are pregnant, your doctor may have you take antibiotics during your pregnancy and probably during labor.  The highest risk to your baby is during delivery.  If the baby should become infected, he will need treatment including an antibiotic, and probably be kept in the hospital some extra days.

There are some things you should be aware of to reduce the risk of Group B strep to your baby, including:

–  Two doses of antibiotics (or more) before birth are recommended as a *guideline* for doctors. If you get ANY antibiotics they can help, but doctors like to see you get at least two doses before delivery.

–  If you’re concerned about a fast labor, be reassured — a natural, fast labor means babies come into contact with the bacteria for a shorter amount of time.

–  internal fetal monitoring may create a small scrape on baby’s head where the bacteria can get into the bloodstream.  Routine internal monitoring is not a good idea for most Group B strep positive moms. talk with your physician about the risks and benefits of using the internal monitor.

–  Discuss ways to avoid excessive digital exams in labor with your provider, as inserting anything into the vagina may push the bacteria closer toward the baby.

–  Don’t agree to let the provider rupture membranes to induce labor.  Rupturing membranes allows access to baby, puts you on a schedule for delivery and increases the chance of prolonged rupture (a risk factor). Rupturing membranes AFTER the IV antibiotics are started LATE in labor may not be as problematic. 

–  Talk to your physician about her prevention strategy.

–  Remember, the antibiotics are given to you to protect baby. IVs in labor aren’t fun, but the reasons for IV antibiotics in labor are compelling.

–  Taking oral antibiotics before labor to get rid of Group B Strep colonization will not reduce the risk to baby.  IV antibiotics in labor are the only proven way to protect baby from infection.

–  Consider a urine screen for Group B strep during late pregnancy.

–  A c-section does not automatically reduce the likelihood of infecting baby and may increase his risk of other infections.

–  Talk with the pediatrician.  Advise him that you are Group B strep positive and talk about what this means for baby.  Baby should be watched for a day or two to be sure all is well

–  Learn all you can. Knowledge is the best defense against Group B Strep.

As always, be certain to discuss this issue thoroughly with your physician.  Make sure she understands your concerns and that she is prepared to deal with the risks involved in a Group B Strep positive pregnancy.

I am Group B strep positive – What next?