1 in 4 women carry Group B Strep during pregnancy without knowing. Testing can make all the difference (Strepelle, 2018).
Before my friend fell pregnant, I had never heard of Group B Strep. I remember the sheer panic when she got a positive test result back. She was sure her baby was going to die or be incredibly poorly. Like myself, before falling pregnant, she had never heard about Group B Strep and didn’t understand much about it. Luckily she tested, she got her results, antibiotics were given and her baby was absolutely fine! I knew then, that when I fell pregnant, testing would be on my essential baby buys list! When I started to blog, I wanted to raise awareness of the importance of testing.
What is Group B Strep?
Group B Strep is a common bacteria that normally lives in our body, it can be found in men and women. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women carry this bacterial, in their digestive system or vagina (Strepelle, 2018). Although, this is not usually harmful to the women carrying it, it can be passed onto the baby during labour and can cause serious complications (nhs.uk, 2018).
Symptoms can include:
- being floppy and unresponsive
- not feeding well
- high or low temperature
- fast or slow heart rates
- fast or slow breathing rates
- irritability (nhs.uk,2018)
Or more seriously and rarely:
- infect the uterus
- late miscarraiges
- preterm birth
- still birth (Strepelle, 2018).
Luckily, Group B Strep can be detected during pregnancy and the infection can usually be prevented with antibiotics during labour. That’s why it is so important to test for Group B Strep in pregnancy and awareness of the condition and testing needs to be raised.
The NHS does not currently offer routine testing to all pregnant women, only women who meet ‘the risk factors’ as explained on the Group B Strep Support website. However, the rate of Group B Strep in babies is continuing to rise.
However, you can test yourself through purchasing a test privately. I decided to purchase a Group B Strep testing kit from Strepelle, who follow Public Health England’s guidelines on testing. This test is available for £39.99 and is sent straight to your home address for home testing. For me, this was on my baby buys list. Something I knew I wanted to ensure I had done. I believe testing should be available on the NHS but while it currently isn’t, I could 100% justify this cost to myself.
When should you test…
Group B strep support suggest you test between 35-37 weeks, ‘as this has shown to be a highly predictive indicator of whether you will be carrying GBS when you are most likely to go into labour’ (Group B Strep Support, 2018).
I made sure my test had arrived for the 35th week of my pregnancy. It is easy to order online, you can even pay using PayPal!
Taking the test…
If i’m perfectly honest, when the test arrived I was quite surprised there were two swabs that needed doing. My fault! I hadn’t read up into how the test was taken… I was slightly anxious that you had to collect two samples… from rather delicate areas. One from the vagina and one from the rectum… The glamour of pregnancy continues!
However, the pack came with detailed, easy to follow instructions. I found the samples easy to take. They DIDN’T hurt at all, which I was very thankful of.
I then packaged them up and posted the samples back on the same day. I was so embarrassed when I thought I would be sending my rectum swab in the post… But you would not have been able to tell, as the packaging provided was very discrete.
I was quite nervous to receive my results back. I knew I had done the right thing testing, and if the results came back positive, at least I was in the know and prepared. But I couldn’t help but worry.
I was very surprised at how quickly Strepelle got back to me, I got my results within 3 days. I had opted into the text message service and thankfully, received a very welcome text saying my results were negative!
I felt a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and I am so glad I tested for Group B Strep. I will again in my next pregnancy.
But what if I test positive?
The first thing I would advise is not to panic. Its good news, because the risk has been identified and you are now in the know. I know that is far easier said than done, especially when this is your baby we are talking about. Strepelle will advise you to contact your healthcare professional and you will be ‘offered intravenous antibiotics in labour. These are very effective at preventing GBS infection in the newborn during the vital first days of life’ (Group B Strep Support, 2018).
I would then advise visiting the Group B Strep support charity website (https://gbss.org.uk/) which has a wealth of information available and a helpline for support and advise.
You can also contact the customer service department at Strepelle.
I’ve done my test, good luck with yours!
Please check out my Instagram: mummymitchell18
Strepelle. (2018). Strepelle – Home to laboratory testing for Group B Streptococcus (GBS). [online] Available at: https://www.strepelle.com/ [Accessed 15 Nov. 2018].
nhs.uk. (2018). What are the risks of group B streptococcus (GBS) infection during pregnancy?. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/what-are-the-risks-of-group-b-streptococcus-infection-during-pregnancy/ [Accessed 15 Nov. 2018].
Group B Strep Support. (2018). When to test for GBS – Group B Strep Support. [online] Available at: https://gbss.org.uk/info-support/pregnancy-and-birth/information-on-testing-for-group-b-strep/when-to-test-for-gbs/ [Accessed 15 Nov. 2018].