Group B Streptococcus is a bacteria that is found in the vagina and/or rectum of about 25% of adult women. However, just because it is present does not indicate an issue. The risk arises when the bacteria colonizes– indicating infection, which can be passed to the baby during the birthing process.
Since there is a possibility of passing the infection your care provider will test you during the late weeks of your third trimester. The screening consists of a swab to your vagina and to your rectum that is then sent out for culturing.
To treat the infection antibiotics are administered through an IV when your bag of water breaks. The antibiotics will treat your baby through the placenta.Typically if you are found to be the 1 out of 4 adult women who are just carriers, your care provider may want to administer the antibiotics from a preventative standpoint.
How it affects your birthing process:
- If you are positive for Group B Strep or you are a carrier, your provider may want you to go to the hospital immediately after your “water breaks.”
- If your bag of water breaks without contractions being present your care provider may want to induce labor.
- Some care providers give you an option of waiting to see if labor will start. If you opt into this there is typically a maximum of 24 hours they will wait, which is the maximum 4 doses of antibiotics; administered every 4-6 hours.
- If you are negative for Group B strep and your are not yet experiencing contractions, you may want to do some light activity to get the contractions moving along.
How it affects your baby:
- Testing for your baby- if the antibiotics were not administered quickly enough then the baby is observed for infection. Some providers do blood cultures, other providers may culture your baby’s urine and spinal fluid.
- Your baby may be given antibiotics through an IV before the testing comes back. Others just observe until the cultures come back.
What does Group B Strep infection look like?
- In adults: Abdominal pain, a urinary tract infection, fever, etc.
- In babies: Fever, difficulty feeding, lethargy
- Can cause serious illnesses: sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia, etc.
The good think about GBS is it is almost always preventable. Talk to your care provider if you have any questions or concerns.