Monday, May 17, 2010

Home Birth and Group Strep B

This week, my midwife came to the home appointment with some news that was a little shocking to me. My group strep B test came back positive. I had taken the test believing that the results would be negative. I was negative with Jonah, and I eat a lot of pro-biotic rich foods like yogurt. I wanted to have the test because in the event that we would transfer to the hospital, they would treat the baby as though I was positive simply because they don't have the test results. This could mean unnecessary antibiotics.

So when the midwife sat down and told me that the test came back positive, I was a little surprised and taken back. Now we have something to consider. In a hospital birth, I would be given antibiotics through an IV during labor to prevent the bacteria from spreading to the infant. This is a choice with some midwives, but isn't with mine.

Group Strep B is a normal bacteria found in some women's vaginal or rectal areas. Like all of the other bacteria that humans carry on our bodies, group strep B typically is harmless. However, in labor and birth, it could cause an infection that may cause serious problems for the infant. Not all infants who come in contact with the bacteria get infections, and there are some situations that seem to put the infant at higher risk. There are plenty of medical websites out there that you can look up all of the statistics etc, so I don't feel it is appropriate to list them all here.

One of the main risks that could lead to a GSB infection would be if my water breaks more than two hours before the baby is born. Because of this, we will try to keep the bag of waters intact as long as possible during labor. We will not break the water to help labor go faster. I am also taking extra vitamin C which is shown to strengthen the bag of waters to prevent a prolonged rupture.

In addition to the vitamin C, I am taking garlic capsules and eating probiotic rich foods, to help kill the GSB bacteria and keep the good bacteria around. During labor, I will have minimal to no vaginal exams, to prevent the transfer of the bacteria through the birth path. I will also be using a wash called Chlorhexedine, which in Europe has been shown to be just as effective as IV antibiotics.

And finally, Daryl and I have decided that it is best to give the baby a shot of antibiotics once she is born. This is a personal choice, and one we did not make lightly. We heavily weighed the risks. The fact is, our daughter will be coming into contact with bacteria that could potentially cause a lot of problems for her. We feel that giving her the shot of antibiotics will help protect her from preventable illness. I will be taking the test again, because even though the bacteria is found one week, it may not be there by the time birth comes. Especially with the precautions that we are taking to ensure that the bacteria is at a minimal amount.

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