Group B Strep and Natural Birth?

Elaine - posted on 05/12/2010 ( 15 moms have responded )

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I am due in a little less than six weeks with my first, and am starting to get really scared. Some background: My goal is a natural birth with no pitocin, no epidural, no drugs, etc... I'm having a hospital birth, though, and there are no midwives in my area that can deliver at the hospital I'm going to, so I'm going to have to use a doctor. I've been to two different offices so far, and am probably going to switch one more time because I feel like the doctors at the current office aren't listening to me. I haven't been able to find any doctor who seems supportive of a natural birth. Fortunately, my husband and my mother are behind me on this 100%, so I know I'll have a good support system.

But here's the thing that has me really scared now, and what I really want more information on: At my last appointment a week ago, the current doctor told me that because I tested positive for Group B Strep in my urine back in November, they would automatically treat me with IV antibiotics at delivery. My old doctor told me when it tested positive that it was too early for the test to mean anything and I shouldn't worry about it yet. I've been doing research and I realize that this could be extremely serious for the baby, so I know that I have to do what's best for her. But, I worry about the IV. For one thing, I have a serious fear of needles, so the IV itself terrifies me. But, I know I can just suck it up and deal with it if I have to. But I worry that having to spend my labor hooked up to an IV will make it more difficult to have a natural birth. For one thing, it feels like a loss of control, like it would be easier for them to give me pitocin or something like that without me knowing about it. I also worry about a loss of mobility. I feel like I need to be free to change positions and move around to help cope with the contractions. And I want to have the option of getting in the shower (no tubs at the hospital, unfortunately), in case the warm water makes it easier to handle. I also have issues with the idea of the antibiotics in general because I really don't believe in preventative antibiotics. And, I was hoping to labor at home for as long as possible to reduce the amount of interventions (which is actually what one doctor recommended). But they say the antibiotics should be given as soon as you go into labor, which would mean a more time laboring at the hospital instead of in the comfort of my own home.

So here's my questions: Has anyone else had the antibiotics and still had a natural birth? Does the IV actually have to be hooked up the entire time I'm there, or can they just give me the antibiotics then unhook it so I can move around as I want to? Does anyone know of any other options? I was just nervous about labor until this came up, but now I'm really scared. So any information or personal experience that anyone has would be greatly appreciated!

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Nicole - posted on 01/02/2011

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Hope things went well Elaine, it's the extreme sport! Jennifer C, Group Beta Strep can be super dangerous if baby is untreated. Please do not tell someone to insert a foreign food into their Vagina to test negative, change PH, etc. I'm a Registered Nurse at a Birthing centers and work alongside Doulas, Midwives, great Docs, and Peds that agree to treat GBS with Antibiotics. It can cause possible sepsis (blood/organ system infection/shutdown), pneumonia, meningitis or worse esp if baby in birth canal awhile. It's serious! It's a bacteria that's usually harmless in adults with normal immune system but in infants it's nothing to mess around with. Thanks!!

Amber - posted on 06/01/2011

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first off you dont have to have the medication there are alternatives you can do. 1 you can clean down there with a medical grade soap(such as hibaclens) and as long as your water isnt broken for more then 12 hrs and w/ in those 12 hrs your not check over and over again most likely your baby will be fine. every single women has the strep b virus in them just some women it lies dormant. i tested positive with both my children and my first one i got the iv and you have to have the medication running tho u for about 12hrs. and my second child also positive i just did the wash and she is was negative for strep b. good luck

Jamie - posted on 11/19/2010

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Hi!! I just gave birth on the 10th and I did it all natural and was GBS positive. They do give you penicillin (if you aren't allergic to it). It is supposed to be 2 bags in 4 hours, but with me, I barely got through one because Levi (my son) was ready to come out! They had to give him anti-biotics after birth to make sure he didn't get affected. It took about 30 minutes. As for the IV being hooked to you the whole time, I think it is. My labor and delivery was less than 2 hours. There wasn't much time to walk around or anything...and it didn't help that my nurse was new and it took her 4 times to find my vain. I send you good luck and a fast and easy delivery! :) And doing it natural is very rewarding knowing that you brought him/her into the world all by yourself (delivery i mean)!

Johanna - posted on 07/14/2010

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I had group B with my second child. I went in, had my antibiotics and then they unhooked my IV so I could move around and do what I wanted. I had a natural delivery of my sweet little 8lb 14oz baby boy! I also had a natural delivery with my first 9lb 1oz baby boy. With him I was not group B positive though. GOOD LUCK MAMA!!!!

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Franny - posted on 01/05/2011

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My first recommendation: find out if you have doulas in your area - doulas are skilled in birth support and also serve as advocates for your birth plan, and studies show that women who use doulas have about 1/3 less hospital interventions.

OK, now as for your GBS, it is ridiculous that your dr. is basing the treatment on such an early test. GBS is a naturally occurring bacteria that can be present in any woman's vagina, and levels go up and down over time. I tested positive at 37 weeks, and my midwife had us insert live acidophilus cultures directly into my vagina. Ok, to be honest, this kind of sucked to do every night, but we did it for 2 weeks and tested again - yay! ZERO GBS! (basically, good bacteria crowds out bad bacteria - i have never been able to find any studies on this, but the damned thing worked, so it's worth a shot). i had a homebirth so i wouldn't have had the antibiotics anyway. even if you are GBS positive during the birth, there is only a 1% chance the baby will get an infection, so don't be too intimidated by all the scaremongering. if the baby does get GBS infection, yes it is very serious, but this is not common.



also, look into chlorhexidine washes given during labor. they have been shown to be equally as effective as antibiotics, and with significantly reduced side effects. (that's the hibiclens, i think i saw other people on here posted about it).



good luck finding a doctor who is willing to be progressive and honor your birth plan! (too bad that's such a challenge...ugh...)

Catherine - posted on 08/07/2010

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I had a natural birth with antibiotics through IV. You can move around with the IV in you...it will just be a pain. I didn't move around because when I got to the hospital I was already pretty close to fully dialated and my water had broken...err...sometime before that. Hahaha! So apparently an hour of IV antibiotics was not enough time to make me SB negative so they made me stay at the hospital for 3 days so they could monitor my son. He was fine. There are other options for making you SB negative (my midwife mentioned some, but I haven't looked into them yet).

Amanda - posted on 07/11/2010

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I delivered naturally tested + for Strep B my labor went very quickly and I barely got my antibiotics. As stated above it is VERY much illegal for them to give you anything or preform any type of treatment without your consent. I was hooked up to my IV the whole time I was in labor but truth be told getting up and moving wasn't something I was at all interested in. They took out my IV shortly after my angel was born.

Jennifer - posted on 07/02/2010

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There is a way to get tested and test negative. I haven't done it myself, but my doula recommended it to me since I tested positive with my last pregnancy. I wasn't put on the iv since I labored only about 3 hours, but then they didn't let us leave the hospital early. This is what she sent me:

Women who are scheduled for GBS testing should insert a clove of garlic that has been peeled but not cut into their vagina at bedtime. Remove and throw away in the a.m. Garlic cloves are a natural and potent antibiotic. The routine is done at bedtime because the taste of the garlic goes to the mouth right away and is better ignored overnight than the daytime. Doing this for 3 nights before the swab will put them in the negative camp.

A summary of alternative treatments:

1) Reduce the vaginal colonization by correcting the vaginal pH.
2) Boost the overall immune system with echniaces, astragalus, garlic, vit. C, etc. This further reduces vaginal colonization and increases the antibodies that get passed through to the baby, thus increasing the baby's immune response if the baby is exposed.

You really have to do something to change the woman's flora over all. Intestines are the reservoir so some of the things for prevention would be similar to preventing UTI - wipe front to back, cotton underwear, throw away the thongs, eat live culture yogurt, sour dough bread, fermented foods and aged natural cheeses...also I would instill the vagina with plain live culture yogurt. If the woman doesn't use milk or milk products then the other fermented foods and buy some lactobacillus caps and open them up to instill along with taking them orally. Other considerations-- is there any cross contamination during sex- anal sex or penis in area of rectum before entering the vaginal area.... probably should use other positions until after pregnancy.

Erin - posted on 06/23/2010

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I would definitely get checked again, probably at 37 or 38 weeks. Until then I would eat as much raw garlic as you can stomach and load up on Vitamin C, Echinacea, and elderberry. These are all anti-viral and help boost the immune system. Hopefully it should take care of that Strep before you have to have another test. Then if you're negative you won't have to worry about the IV / antibiotics at all.

Second, you can absolutely opt out of the IV and antibiotics, along with the pitocin etc. Just state it all or have it written in a birth plan. From the research I did it seemed that only around 1-2% of babies born to Group B Strep + women actually contracted it themselves, and it is treatable afterwards using antibiotics anyway... so why take it preventively in my opinion. When I said I was concerned about taking antibiotics preventatively especially at a time the baby's bacterial system is first being cultivated the doctor told me it is only a concern when you take a look at larger populations overusing antibiotics... right... like 25% of mom's taking it during birth when it's really only necessary for something like 1 in a 1000 births. If you do decide to take the antibiotics though you can get a heparin lock (I believe is the right term) so that drugs can be administered easily but you don't have to stay hooked up to IVs after. They'll probably want to give you fluids for hydration as well, but if you're drinking you can decline them so you won't have the IV as long or hooked up continuously

Allison - posted on 06/04/2010

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In response to Jocelyn's comment, my home-birth midwife (in California, US) does use hibicleans for GBS positive women. That site looks really great - thanks for posting it! I didn't mention the hibicleans because I asked my OB about it early on (just in case) and she wasn't willing to use it - she was more comfortable with the antibiotics. I didn't ask if it was a required thing for her to only use antibiotics, as hospitals all have certain protocols they make the doctors follow. But it doesn't hurt to ask, maybe if you bring in some of the research on it, your OB will be willing to use it instead!

Allison - posted on 06/04/2010

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PS I'm pretty sure it's illegal for them to give you any drugs without your consent, including pitocin. So just make sure you (or hubby) pay attention to what they ask, and try to set up a good, positive rapport with the staff from the beginning. But remember that if they do try to scare/bully you, you have to give your INFORMED consent or go "against medical advice (AMA)" if you have good reason to believe it is safer for you and/or baby. It's sad but true that this can be necessary at times, but hopefully it will not be necessary for you! You are the mom and this is your body and baby to care for as you feel is safest and healthiest - the medical staff should always be there to support and educate you to make the best possible decisions. I hope you can find a good Dr - they are out there!!! For my OB and pediatrician, it took several switches to find the right one.

And, you've probably heard it before, always "wipe" front to back - most strep comes from behind and gets transferred to the front. Also, I concur on the no baths after water breaks. Mine broke about 26 hours before my active labor started (I gave birth at home), but my midwife just kept close watch on my temperature and baby's heartrate and movement, did no vaginal exams after that, and I also was careful to keep very clean down there.

It sounds like you are very well educated about birth, which I think gives you the best chance at having a satisfying hospital birth - it is definitely possible :) Several of my home-birth friends had to transfer to the hospital late in labor, and still had beautiful birth experiences there.

Allison - posted on 06/01/2010

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I am no expert on this, but I was told that the important thing is to test for Group B strep close to your due date, like at 36-38 weeks, and only vaginally. However, I now found out that many doctors check rectal and vaginal, and recommend antibiotics if there is strep in either place. Anyway, that's about all I know! My midwife was supportive of letting strep + women labor without antibiotics under certain circumstances (I could give you more details if you are curious). I was negative, but I know that it can be very serious, and I now know two babies that caught it at the hospital - even though their mom's were negative. That's not to scare, but just to say that germs lurk in other places, too, so keep a close eye on your own baby's health in those first 48 hours (and trust your instincts) no matter what. Even some very serious bugs can be treated with antibiotics successfully after birth IF found early.



Anyway, IF it were ME I would (1) get tested again, just to see if it's still there (2) make sure I have a Dr who supports me and gives me all the necessary info (3) take the IV if I were strep positive, but again, make sure my Dr and birth team were fully supportive of helping me be mobile during labor.



Good luck and find out as much as you can!

Jocelyn - posted on 05/26/2010

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I was told by my midwives (I was strep B positive and had a home delivery, but baby came too quickly for me to get the antibiotics lol) that they can just put the shunt in (or whatever it's called) without you needing to be hooked up to the whole contraption.

Cheryl - posted on 05/12/2010

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Yes, For two of my natural childbirths I had an IV hooked to me- the last time was because I also tested Strep B positive. It's awkward but ask them to latch the tubing to the cord with your fetal belly monitor so that you don't have tons of stuff dangling from you :-) But it's still perfectly possible!

Congrads- I am 18 1/2 weeks along and we go tomorrow for the Level 2 ultrasound (I'm now concidered high risk but still have had all naturals) and hopefully find out sex of baby!!! Pray nothing else shows up!!!!



If it's your first, you could probably still labor a long time at home and make it in time for the antibodics. My first was longer than 24 hours- I wish I would have stayed home longer. So shower and relax at home before going in. If your water breaks- do not take a bath!!!

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