Group B Strep and Why It’s Important to Test

Today’s blog post is on a subject I feel quite strongly about.

I first became aware of Group B Strep in my pregnancy with Josh and it was my sister, a paediatric Sister who works on the Evelina Childrens Ward at Guys St Thomas who really educated me on it and strongly encouraged me to get tested.

Because Group B Strep isn’t something the NHS routinely test us pregnant Mamas for, many of us have never heard of it. So I was interested to hear what my sister had to say about it when she told me in no uncertain terms to pay for the test privately. In her job she’s had to treat babies with this illness and if it’s not something the medical team are aware of prior to the babies birth, it can make it difficult to deal with and sadly cause complications with your little one.

So let’s start with what Group B Strep is. Its full name is Group B Streptococcus and it is a common bacterium carried in the vagina and bowel in around 1 in 4 of us pregnant women. It doesn’t present the carrier with any health risks, it is not an STI and the majority of pregnant women who are carriers give birth to perfectly healthy babies without ever knowing they even had GBS.

However, without testing the pregnant mother for GBS, there is a chance that your baby could develop a serious infection that could have been prevented. Testing to find out if you are carrying GBS during your pregnancy is a proactive way to safeguard your baby’s first first few weeks of life. By testing, your delivery team will know to treat the baby immediately with antibiotics during and upon delivery, thus preventing much further serious conditions such as meningitis or pneumonia. I don’t want to word this in a way that will frighten any Mums to be, but I do want to highlight the importance of this simple test.

Whatever your results are it’s good news; if you are negative for GBS that’s brilliant and if you are positive then it’s great that the level of risk is known and your delivery team can prescribe treatment within plenty of time to keep your baby healthy and safe.

As I’ve previously said, the NHS does not routinely test for GBS unless there is a known risk. However the wonderful people over at Strepelle have developed a simple test that can be taken in the privacy of your own home, before sending on to a laboratory for results.  It is advised that you take the test at around 35 weeks pregnant and the cost of the test is £39.99 which is a mere drop in the ocean in comparison to the health of your unborn child.

So, taking the test – lets get into the nitty gritty. I have done mine today, at 35 weeks and 4 days pregnant and immediately posted it off. It is advised you post it the day you do the test and also bear in mind the day of the week; Monday to Thursday is most advisable for testing due to postage.  You will be sent out two swabs in your pack, one is a vaginal swab, and one is a rectal swab. Now lets not beat about the bush (no pun intended), the rectal swab in particular can be rather an unexpected surprise but let’s be honest, pregnancy is not the most dignified of times and at least you can do these swabs in the privacy of your own home.  You will be provided with clear and simple instructions so please follow them carefully so that you get the most accurate result possible.

Once you’ve collected your swabs, and placed them back in their collection tubes as outlined in the instructions, you then label them up as instructed in your order form with the sticky labels provided. You will also have completed a form within the pack which will give the option of how you’d like to receive your results; post, SMS or email. You should receive the results within three working days. With Josh I was negative, but I don’t have my results for this one as yet as I obviously only took it this morning.

So yes, it costs a few quid, and yes I’m not going to lie, doing a rectal swab isn’t going to be the highlight of your day and is a bit… tender! But in the grand scheme of things it is so important. As Mums we want to do anything to protect our kids, and that starts from the moment we see those longed for lines on the positive pregnancy test. So please don’t be put off by the cost; you’d most likely only spend that money on baby grows you don’t need (you’ll get bought loads anyway) and this is a far more important expense.

For lots more information please check out the Strepelle website which has lots of helpful articles and should answer any questions you have.

I really hope this post helps you if you have been puzzled by the GBS and whether to test or not. If you have any questions please do ask!

Disclaimer: This post is a collaboration with Strepelle but ALL opinions and experiences are my own. And I would have taken this test regardless! 


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