Group B Strep... What is it? And what happens if you have a positive result?

You're headed towards the finish line! You've made it through nearly all of your prenatal visits. But, you have one more test before delivery (in most cases). Around 36 weeks your provider will test you for something called Group B Strep.



What is Group B Strep?


Group B Strep or GBS, is bacteria that is found in the gastrointestinal and genital tract. Exposure to GBS is usually not harmful to people but it can cause an illness, GBS disease. This disease can lead to meningitis and pneumonia, which is rare in adults, it can also cause UTI's and preterm labor. For newborns, however, it's a different story. If your baby is exposed to GBS during delivery they can become very sick. They can encounter things like a fever, or have a hard time feeding or breathing. This is why the test is done prior to delivery. If the result is positive, treatment can be given to protect your little one.


How is it done?


The test for this exam lasts for about a month and although it may not be fun it's important to be tested for this bacteria. The test is done with a swab. Since the bacteria lives in the genital tract, the swab will have to be done by swabbing the vaginal and anal area. It's not painful just more so awkward or uncomfortable. But trust me, you'll live, and I'm sure you will want to know so you can do everything to make sure your baby is good. Many women that have tested positive before sometimes assume that they will be positive in future pregnancies. This isn't always the case. Each pregnancy is different so don't just assume you're going to be GBS positive.


The results are in!


Your provider will inform you once your results are back. If the test is negative then you don't have to take any precautions before delivery. But if the result is positive this means you will be given an antibiotic through your IV during the laboring phase. They usually give penicillin to treat this. I remember testing positive during one of my pregnancies and having to be treated. It BURNED so bad when they gave me the meds through my IV. I was really anxious this last pregnancy as I had tested positive again. Luckily I had a lovely nurse who had a 'trick' for me. She informed me there was a special way of giving me the medication so it wouldn't hurt, she took her time, injected the medication and I didn't feel a thing.


What can happen if my baby gets GBS?


Babies can be exposed to GBS in several ways. Through vaginal delivery and via c-section, although it's rare it can happen. It's important to remember that not every baby who is exposed to GBS will become infected. But if they do, the effects can be serious. Babies are more likely to contract meningitis due to GBS and this can occur within a week to a few months after they are born. On a positive note, babies can be treated with antibiotics and they usually do just fine!


With the proper precautions and communication, a positive GBS result can be handled and your baby will be just fine? Have any of you tested positive for GBS? If so share your experience!


Until next time, sending you peace, love, and light!

Tiffany Underwood - Prenatal Consultant