What is GBS I hear you say….it’s something every pregnant woman needs to be tested for and something we should all be talking about.
I was in my second pregnancy and felt pretty rubbish the entire time. I had UTI after UTI which meant urine test after urine test. On one of my urine sample pots (I must have been holding it too close to my lady parts) it tested positive for Group B Strep (GBS) I was told to come into the GP surgery and to make an appointment with the midwife.
I still didn’t know what GBS was. I did the worst thing a pregnant woman could do – I googled it! (NEVER EVER google illnesses while pregnant…buggies – yes…illnesses – NO!)
So GBS is often perfectly harmless unless you’re about to give birth. There is no need to treat it in women as 25% of us have the bacteria and most of us don’t know unless we are tested whilst showing symptoms of other illnesses. It’s usually harmless. Unless you’re a baby having a vaginal birth with a mother who is GBS positive and doesn’t know. It is not an STI or STD, it is not a sign of ill health and it is not because of poor hygiene. It is a bacteria that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum.
GBS is the most common cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns. It is also a cause for newborn pneumonia and problems such as rubella, congenital syphilis and spina bifida. This of course is rare but it still happens.
Very few babies who are exposed to GBS become infected, but it can still cause babies to be miscarried, stillborn or become very sick after birth.
So what happens if you test positive for GBS? You are watched carefully by the midwife, you are told to carry your yellow book everywhere with you and on that yellow book there is a huge red sticker that says you are GBS positive. I was told 3473495629 times that as soon as my contractions started or my waters broke I HAD to get my bum to the hospital to be put on an antibiotic drip. This is so you get enough antibiotics into you that when the baby is delivered they won’t need to be put onto a drip.
So why am I telling you all this? basically the test for GBS costs the NHS £11 each and the antibiotic in labour is pennies. Most areas in the UK do not routinely offer this test. GBS is often misdiagnosed by GPS as a UTI and you are sent on your way without a proper test.
With the NHS facing more cuts, how many more babies will lose their lives because their mother was unaware of GBS? Please sign the petition at the bottom of this post to show support that the GBS test should be a mandatory test during pregnancy. Many other countries offer this test in late pregnancy to ensure that labour is well prepared for but the UK never has. I know if expectant mothers knew more about the risks of GBS they would pay the £11 themselves for the testing to be carried out. I know I would.
Sign the petition here.