Group B Strep (Group Beta Streptococcus) or often referred to as GBS, is a topic that I don’t think gets talked about early enough in pregnancy.
Honestly, many of my last minute clients never discussed GBS or what it was until they suddenly were faced with being tested for it towards the end of their pregnancy. But it’s worth talking about it early, when easy steps can be taken to help lesson the impact on your health, your labor, and your baby.
When you test postive for GBS, it is recommended that you receive intravenous (IV) antibiotics in labor. I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of consenting or declining them, nor the pro and cons of declining the test altogether, because the vast majority of my personal clients consent to the test and then consent to antibiotic treatment in labor when positive. Most of my clients birth in the hospital, where there is heavy pressure to accept antibiotic treatment. Rather than having the stress of even attempting to decline this intervention, I’d like to help you prevent it if possible.
Lets talk for a minute about IV antibiotics in labor and why I’m concerned about them.
- They hurt! Anyone ever tell you they burn like mad going through the IV? Well, they do. You’ve put a lot of effort into learning to cope with the sensations of labor, adding the pain and annoyance of IV antibiotics is not going to help. All other merits or challenges of antibiotic use aside, this alone is enough reason to try to avoid them!
- They disrupt the micro-biome. More and more evidence is emerging of the importance of a healthy and diverse micro-biome. Large amounts of IV antibiotics at the time when your micro-biome needs to be at its peak, means the developing micro-biome of your baby is at risk of not reaching its full potential.
- Thrush. Thrush is an infection of yeasty beasties that can overtake your system resulting in yeast infections, oral infection in your baby, gut dis-symbiosis, and infections in the nipples. Which that last one? In the nipples? Yeah, it hurts. Pain while breastfeeding undermines breastfeeding efforts. From personal experience, thrush can make it feel like your sweet baby’s mouth is filled with shards of glass.
I’ve attended quite a few talks, webinars, and trainings on this topic. Learned about the risks of GBS to babies, the risks and benefits of IV antibiotics, and the efficacy of alternative treatments. I’ve stayed up until 3am glaring at my phone screen trying to extrapolate data from studies and evaluate their real world usefulness.
My biggest takeaway has always been that prevention is key.
Ok, so how do we prevent GBS from being an issue? Crowd out the bad bugs with good ones!
- Eat a diet rich in naturally fermented foods! Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi. and fermented vegetables are delicious!
- Take a quality probiotic supplement daily. Look for one with preferably both of the following strains that have been well documented to colonize the gut and vagina, and specifically crowd out and lower GBS colonization.
- lactobacillus rhamnosus
- lactobacillus reuteri
Want to know more?
If you are interested in further reading, there is an Evidence Based Birth article of the topic, as well as a great article by herbalist, midwife, and doctor, Aviva Romm.
If you are coming across this information after already testing postive for GBS, in addition to the above articles, Mommypotamus and Wellness Mama share their personal accounts of what worked for them.
You will find this information and more in my new guidebook for all new doula clients. To learn more about doula services and to book a free consultation, click here.
Let me know what worked for you. Do you take a probiotic or eat fermented foods? How has it impacted your health?
Please note that nothing in this post is meant to be construed as medical advice. I always encourage thorough and transparent consultation with your trusted primary care provider. And above all, trusting your innate inner wisdom to guide you.
Ho M, Chang YY, Chang WC, Lin HC, Wang MH, Lin WC, Chiu TH. Oral Lactobacillus
rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 to reduce Group B Streptococcus
colonization in pregnant women: A randomized controlled trial. Taiwan J Obstet
Gynecol. 2016 Aug;55(4):515-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tjog.2016.06.003. PubMed PMID: