You're getting close to your due month. How exciting! You're feeling pretty good. Maybe you are ready to have this baby, maybe you need a bit more time. Overall you are happy to have had such a healthy pregnancy. Then your care provider tells you, you've tested positive for Group B Strep.
Group B what?
Group B Streptococcus.
You may have some questions. Here are some answers.
Group B Streptococcus (Group B Strep) is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of many people. It can travel down to the vagina, urinary tract and rectum. Often, it is the culprit of urinary tract infections (UTI). But for the most part it lives in the intestine and doesn't seem to be much of a problem. Some women find out that they have a GBS infection which would show up during routine urine testing, but most women would only know they were Group B positive because of a swab test around 37 weeks pregnant.
So what's the deal with pregnancy, then?
Well, here's the deal. If the GBS moves its way into the vagina and/or rectum during the last weeks of pregnancy it can get passed on to the baby (in other words, baby can become colonized with GBS) during a vaginal birth. It is not alarming when a baby becomes colonized but developing an infection is. The chances they would develop an infection are small but if they do, they can develop meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. This is why, in the US, we screen for GBS and the standard is to treat with antibiotics during labor and birth.
Pretty straight forward, right? Sort of.
When I was pregnant with my first baby I tested positive for Group B Strep. I didn't know much about gut health and the negative effects of antibiotics on our bodies.
In fact, I didn't know anything.
I was concerned about mobility. I wanted to move while I labored and I wanted to make sure that this Group B business wouldn't take that away from me. I was told that I would have to be hooked up to an IV periodically to administer antibiotics but it shouldn't restrict my movement. That's all I wanted to know.
But there's so much more.
How many babies actually develop a GBS infection? What are the short term and long term effects of antibiotic use for the mom and baby? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? and is there any way to avoid testing positive for GBS?
There is a wonderful resource on this grand Wide World Web called Evidence Based Birth. Here, they lay out the research and what it has to say regarding pregnancy and birth issues, including Group B Strep. If you want answers to the above questions, this should be your first stop.
Second stop, right here: Dr. Aviva Romm has some truly wonderful information on Group B Strep for the thoughtful mom, including how to protect against an infection. She also has interesting research, over at Healthiest Kids University that connects antibiotic use in newborns with allergies, eczema, asthma in childhood, obesity and diabetes.
So begins our journey. My baby is four now. She has a dairy sensitivity, eczema and another recurring rash that we have yet to explain. It doesn't sound too complicated, but when I began to realize that eczema, skin issues, even allergies are our body's way of telling us there's something wrong, I needed to get to the root of the problem!
Our family is embarking on a 3- month (at least!) hunt for healthier guts :) We will be following Dr. Aviva Romm's 4R program and although I am excited to begin trying to help our daughter kick some of her symptoms (and maybe some of mine too!) I can't imagine it will be easy with a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a husband who loves ice cream and coffee milk.
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