Group B Strep – Aware.
Group B Strep – Content warning – medical language and near death experience.
Group B strep was knowing Mummies who had needlessly lost their babies.
The stories lead to worry.
Worry became research.
Research became awareness.
Awareness became knowledge.
30-50% of women carry group B strep at any given time.
Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it.
But it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.
Knowledge had to become taking action.
Strep B was asking my midwife if I could be tested.
Just to be told that it’s very rare and it’s highly unlikely.
Strep B was taking matters into my own hands.
I ordered my own testing kit through the list of GBSS approved ECM tests.
I waited until I was 35 weeks pregnant to do my test.
35 weeks came.
I did the swabs.
I wrote a cheque for £37.
£37 to potentially save my babies life.
£37 well spent, regardless of the result.
It was all put in an envelope and posted.
I knew that the results would take up to two weeks.
So I waited.
Two weeks had passed but no results had arrived.
So I sent them an email.
They replied straight away and were very apologetic.
This email had an attachment.
I opened the attachment.
The seconds that it took to open and load felt like years.
The word blared at me like red lights.
Is it my fault? What had I done?
I cried and I cried.
My excitement to meet our baby turned to fear.
It was midday, but I fell asleep in tears.
I didn’t want to say it out loud but I told my partner and I told my parents.
I felt guilt but I reminded myself that it wasn’t my fault.
Strep B isn’t sexually transmitted. It is naturally incubated.
There was no way I could have known.
Fear had to turn into action.
Action. This was raising awareness to my pregnant friends and acquaintances.
Action. This was passing on the results of the test onto my midwife.
Action. This was including my strep B positive diagnosis in my birthing plan.
The community midwife stuck a small “STREP B” sticker on my pregnancy notes.
This was to supposedly alert the team that were to help me through labour.
A sticker wasn’t certain enough, but my voice was.
I couldn’t count how many times I had to get medical professionals to clarify that they would take this seriously.
Did they have enough of the antibiotics on the ward?
Would I get access to them?
Would I get at least 2 rounds of antibiotics?
Will I get the antibiotics at least 2 hours before she is born?
Would my baby get ongoing checks after she was born to insure that complications had been completely avoided?
What if I couldn’t get to hospital quickly enough after my waters broke?
The 31st of January came and I became unwell.
I went to maternity day care where they diagnosed me with preeclampsia.
I was to be induced.
Starting that night.
I would be in hospital until she was born.
I could be sure that everything will be ready for her arrival.
Many of my conversations with midwives were about strep B.
Where did you get tested? I tested myself at home with testing kit.
How did you get tested? I tested myself after I paid for a test.
How did you know about strep B? I have family friends who were affected by it.
How much did you pay to get tested? £37.
A couple of days passed.
My waters broke.
Fear kicked in.
I was moved from an induction room to a labour room.
A drip was started to protect my baby from strep B.
But my black and blue hand wouldn’t take the drip.
I became very worried and begged them to swap to another cannulation site.
Finally, I got what I needed.
I was able to protect my baby.
Over 5 hours.
She made her entrance.
It started to go wrong for me, because of a tear.
Yet- She was okay.
I didn’t know it yet, but my baby was safe.
My Mother made sure that she was getting her after birth group B strep checks.
Every 4 hours the checks were made.
She was fine.
My baby was going to be okay.
I came round.
Went from theatre, to recovery to being back on the labour ward.
She was having another lot of checks.
Stethoscope to the chest.
Our baby was okay.
She was healthy.
But it all could have been so different.
I was feeling cold.
My temperature was taken.
Then my pulse.
Blood was taken.
Blood was tested.
My tear had become infected by strep B.
I was diagnosed with sepsis.
I fought for my life for the second time in 24 hours.
Antibiotics were administered.
Strep B had given me sepsis.
It took over a week to recover – despite me being well equipped.
But if it was my baby who had become unwell it could have been so different.
I don’t want to think about it.
No, I can’t think about it.
I will never shut up about strep B until it is properly addressed.
Until every mummy to be, knows of the danger.
Of the risks.
I will not stop until strep B is no longer an issue.
It doesn’t need to be an issue.
All pregnant women need screening for strep B.
That is what strep B is to me.