GBS Positive: What Does a Group B Strep Pregnancy Mean?

GBS Positive: What Does a Group B Strep Pregnancy Mean?

You might have heard about a “group B strep pregnancy” or even been diagnosed as “GBS positive.”

If so, you’ll probably have lots of questions about what exactly this is and what it means for you and your baby.

GBS can be serious.

But it’s also quite common and doesn’t typically lead to complications.

Here’s everything you need to know about what GBS is and how doctors might help you throughout your pregnancy if you get a positive diagnosis.

In this article: 📝

  • What is Group B Strep in pregnancy?
  • How does a woman get Group B Strep?
  • What does a positive Group B Strep mean in pregnancy?
  • Is Strep B serious in pregnancy?
  • Is strep B an STD?

What is Group B Strep in pregnancy?

Group B streptococcus (AKA group B strep or GBS) is a type of bacteria.

It’s often found in the urinary and reproductive tracts, as well as in the digestive system.

Usually, these bacteria come and go from our bodies, and we’re none the wiser.

Being GBS-positive doesn’t necessarily cause health problems.

In fact, most people won’t even know they’ve got it.

So what has it got to do with pregnancy?

Around 25% of people have what is called a group B strep pregnancy.

While it’s reasonably common (but not as common as it used to be), it can be concerning because these bacteria sometimes pass to the baby during delivery.

How does a woman get Group B Strep?

At this point, you might be questioning exactly how do you get group B strep in pregnancy?

It’s a naturally occurring bacteria in the human body, which means you don’t “catch” it from other people by doing things like sharing food and drinks.

Doctors aren’t exactly sure why it spreads in the body, but we know it can cause problems for babies and people with weakened immune systems.

For pregnant women, being GBS positive can cause infection of your placenta, womb, amniotic fluid, or urinary tract.

And even if the mother doesn’t experience any symptoms, it can transfer to the baby during labor and delivery.

As embryologist Navya Muralidhar explains, “Factors such as testing positive for GBS later in your pregnancy, developing a fever during labor, or having a duration of more than 18 hours between your water breaking and baby being born can increases the chances of transfer to the baby”.

What does a positive Group B Strep mean in pregnancy?

You’re routinely tested for GBS in later pregnancy (usually between weeks 35 and 37).

There might be a reason to have an earlier test, though, according to Navya, “if you’re at indication for pre-term or early-term induction of labor, your GBS test might occur at or before 35 weeks”.

It’s a quick and painless test where a cotton swab is used to collect samples from your vagina and rectum.

These are then sent off for analysis.

Know that even if you are GBS positive, it doesn’t necessarily mean either you or your baby will become sick.

It just means you’ll be placed on antibiotics (usually during delivery), and doctors will check your birth a little more closely.

If the infection does get passed on, babies with GBS can show signs of fever, breathing issues, inactivity, feeding problems and trouble with temperature regulation.

It can also lead to serious problems such as sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis.

Is Strep B serious in pregnancy?

A group B strep pregnancy can lead to complications.

But this isn’t always the case.

In fact, most newborns who get GBS don’t even get sick.

It can cause severe and, in some cases, life-threatening infections, though — so it’s always worth taking seriously.

GBS is also more likely to affect preemie babies, as their bodies and immune systems are less developed.

It’s good to remember that GBS doesn’t affect your baby while they’re still inside your womb, as it’s only potentially transferred during labor and delivery.

Is strep B an STD?

No, group B strep is not an STD (sexually transmitted disease).

It’s naturally occurring bacteria that live near your vagina or rectum and don’t cause problems for most people.

Doctors treat anyone with a group B strep pregnancy with antibiotics to kill the bacteria, during labor and delivery.

This is normally done intravenously and starts around four hours before delivery.

Why not earlier?

Well, treating GBS at an earlier stage just isn’t effective.

The only exception is when GBS is found in your urine.

In this case, you’ll probably be offered a course of antibiotics as soon as the issue is discovered.

The bottom line?

A group B strep pregnancy can sometimes lead to complications.

But doctors are used to looking after mamas and babies to ensure infections don’t get passed on.

If you’re GBS-positive, chat with your healthcare team.

They’ll help put your mind at ease and put a plan in place.

And if you need support or someone to talk to along the way, check in with your Peanut Community.

We’re here for you. ❤️


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