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  • Erika Eno

What is Group B Strep?

July is International GBS Awareness Month!


Even though July is coming to an end (how is that possible already?) I wanted to share some information on Group B Strep.


What is Group B Strep?

Group b strep (GBS) is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive and lower reproductive tracts of both men and women. About 1 in 4 pregnant women "carry" or are "colonized" with GBS. Carrying GBS does not mean that you have an infection or are unclean.. Anyone can carry GBS.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), group B strep is the leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns in the USA. Group B strep is a major, yet preventable, cause of maternal and infant ill health globally per the World Health Organization (WHO)*


How do you find out if you have Group B Strep?

About 1 in 4 pregnant women "carry" or are "colonized" with group B strep (GBS). Carrying GBS does not mean that you are unclean.  Anyone can carry GBS. GBS is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease or infection as it can occur on its own even in someone with no prior sexual experience.*


Generally speaking most pregnant women are tested around 36-38 weeks of pregnancy via a swab from the vagina to the rectum. Some providers will allow you to swab yourself. It is not as complicated as it sounds and is super quick!


What do the results mean?

Test results generally only last 5 weeks, which is why the test is done toward the end of pregnancy. If you are negative, cool, there's really not much more to it. If you test positive, cool, this just means you will need to get some IV antibiotics during labor before your baby is born. Generally the first rounds is when labor starts or your water breaks.


What to expect during labor?

The only thing this really changes about your labor and birth is what you may need to get to the hospital sooner rather than labor to get the antibiotics. Plan ahead if you have short labors or live far from the hospital.The IV antibiotics you receive in labor generally take 4 hours to be optimally effective. If possible you can ask your provider to not strip your membranes if you test positive for GBS, as it may push bacteria closer to your baby. Sometimes you may need a second dose of antibiotics if you are having a long labor. If you happen to have your baby before you get the antibiotics the hospital may culture and monitor your baby for the next 36-48 hours.


Will you always have Group B Strep?

No, every pregnancy can be different. Just because you have tested positive for GBS before doesn't mean you will test positive for GBS in the future. Unless you have tested positive for GBS via a urine sample or have had a baby with GBS disease.


Consult with your provider more if you have any more questions or concerns about Group B Strep!



*Information above was found on a great handout from www.GroupBStrepInternational.org



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