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All of Us

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Group B Strep

At my doctor's appointment last week I discovered that I tested positive for Group B Strep. Current medical practice is to prophylactically treat all women who test positive with IV antibiotics during labor. This means that they want you to get there ASAP, instead of waiting till the last minute, which was my plan. It also means that you need an IV, which was NOT in my plan. My doctor said I could have the IV just during the antibiotics, and then have them disconnect it and walk around with a heplock until it is time for the next dose. Another issue is that they want the baby to stay 36 hours after delivery for observation to be sure he/she isn't becoming ill, which I also hadn't planned to do.

According to my pediatrician, about 5% of infants of mothers with Group B Strep will become ill, but they become very ill with sepsis, a bodywide infection. My father-in-law died of sepsis (which he acquired due to the destruction of white blood cells and suppression of his immune system caused by chemotherapy) so I know it is serious. Despite the severity of the potential illness, the number of babies who become ill is so small that it seems like overkill to treat every woman who tests positive with antibiotics. I am concerned about the potential for yeast overgrowth if I take the antibiotics. Vaginal yeast infections, thrush in baby's mouth, yeast infection of my nipples, and yeast infection of baby's diaper area are all possibilities. Yeast can be tough to get rid of. I have known mothers who have struggled with these problems for months, and it is NOT fun.

My pediatrician, who is not conservative, said he truthfully wishes they wouldn't routinely test people, since the risk is so small, but knowing that I am positive, he does recommend that I do the treatment and stay the 36 hours. So after mulling over declining the treatment and/or having the antibiotics but leaving earlier than 36 AMA, I have decided to just go ahead and do it, to be safe. The only problem I can see is that with a short labor, I may not be ABLE to get there 4-6 hours ahead of time and receive at least 2 doses of antibiotic. Oh well, we'll just see how it goes.

Appointment updates: Baby is head down, feels like at least 9 pounds according to my doctor. I had sugar in my urine, so doctor suggested a nonstress test since I'd had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy. I really wasn't feeling well that day, think it was a minor stomach virus, and I'd slept terribly and been up since 4am, so that could have raised my blood sugar. I did the nonstress test but had to interrupt it numerous times due to K, who was with me, and at 16 months can't really be expected to behave well or obey when his mama is strapped to a chair! He decimated the room. In the end I had to unhook the belts myself and rush out without checking out or saying goodbye, because it was time to get T from preschool and neither the doctor or nurse had returned, although more than 20 minutes had passed. I'm sure the test was pretty useless, since the data was really messed up by all the jumping around I did. I'm not worried though, baby is moving a lot and I have tested my blood sugar at home several times since then and the levels were fine.

She offered to try to strip my membranes and get labor going, but I wasn't ready! And feeling as yucky as I was, it just wasn't the day to do that. Normally I'm dying to go early, but I had a lot yet to do. Since I was having a lot of contractions that day anyway, the first thing I did was to come home and get out and clean up the carseat and wash the baby clothes, just in case!
We talked about doing it next week, but since then I read that stripping the membranes increases the risk of the baby becoming infected with Group B Strep, so that really isn't option (and my doctor should have known that!)

2 comments:

Chris said...

I had Groups B Strep with my last pregnancy and I had the same concern that I would not make it to the hospital in time for the full course of the antibiotics. My last non induced labor was only 2 hours long and I live 1.5 hours from the hospital. Still not sure what I am going to do this time.

I did get a hard time about leaving the hospital early also, though I don't recall anyone mentioning the GBS as the reason.

Suzanne said...

My friend who had a baby last November tested positive for group strep b and baby actually came out really really sick. He actually had strep b test positive in his urine which is insanely uncommon. It was a shock since it happened so close to home and I was so close to my own due date (though group strep b negative) I guess I'm just saying I'm glad you're playing it safe! :) Good luck and I'm sure everything will be alright.

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SE Michigan, United States
Mother to 10 fabulous kids, ages 4 to 21 years! Married for 26 years to my best friend.

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