G is for Group B Strep Test

What is the Group B Strep Test?

During pregnancy, there are a variety of tests done to ensure the health of you and your little one. The Group B Strep Test is one of those.

Group B Strep (GBS) is a bacteria that can be present in the vagina and in some cases, the urine or rectum. GBS can be passed to a newborn and cause urinary tract infections and GBS infections. Around 25% of all healthy women carry the bacteria. GBS does not always cause signs of vaginal or bladder infection in most cases.

How do I know if I have GBS?

This routine test is performed between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy for the most accurate GBS status before delivery. The test involves a swab of both the vagina and the rectum. The swab is then sent to the lab and the results are returned to your provider with in 24 to 48 hours.

If your GBS result is negative, there will be no changes to your labor process. If the result is positive, there will be a few changes to make sure you and baby are healthy.

What if I test positive for GBS?

Testing positive for GBS does not guarantee that you will pass it to your child, it just means that you are a carrier.

The goal of the treatment is to reduce the bacteria in the vaginal canal so the risk of baby contracting GBS is minimized. Antibiotics can significantly decrease the chance of GBS transmission. Since the bacteria lives in the gastrointestinal tract, taking antibiotics prior to delivery tends to not be effective as the bacteria can return.

Instead, your provider will most likely recommend using antibiotics given through an IV during your delivery. The antibiotics are typically given every 4 to 8 hours before you give birth. Penicillin (Category B) is commonly used during pregnancy if there is known allergy. If you are allergic to Penicillin, discuss other treatment options with your provider.

How can a doula help?

When we meet with you during our 36-week prenatal visit, we typically ask about your GBS test. If you have not gotten the test done, you can expect to have the test performed in the next week or so. If the test results are positive, we work this into your birth plan and can help explain or navigate your different options for treatment.

When you are walking the halls in labor, your doula is happy to push the IV pole behind you and help you navigate the extra tubing. Your doula is also an expert at distraction if the IV bothers you, and even knows ways to help it not be so obtrusive in your labor process.

So the Group B Strep test is a check on your health and a tool to keep your little one healthy during your birth process. We encourage to ask your provider if you have further questions.

By: Hancie Stokes

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