'It's only now that I know about Group B Strep, and how all pregnant women should be tested&
It was October 2017 and I was heavily pregnant with my first daughter, Violet Esme. I was ten days overdue and waiting patiently for her to make her appearance!
Once my waters finally broke, after a couple of trips back and forth to the hospital, I quickly started to become unwell. Our midwife was called in and she started my observations. My temperature and heart rate were both fine, but Violet’s wasn’t. I’ll never forget her face when she put the Doppler on my bump, and she asked if she had moved position. We all looked at each blankly, because we already knew that Violet had died. I just had that feeling. I got taken away for this to be confirmed with a scan. These were the worst and most heartbreaking days of our lives. They also told me at that point that I had Sepsis, which meant I had to continue with natural birth whilst also battling Sepsis and septic shock. It was also later confirmed that I also was a carrier of Group B Strep, and that this was most likely to have caused the Sepsis as my waters went.
I hadn’t had a test done for Group B Strep throughout my pregnancy, and it's only now that I know that actually every mother should be tested. Group B Strep can have little to no symptoms, can come and go, or be carried by a mother and have no impact. Our question was, how did I get it? Why wasn’t I tested? They told us the test for Group B Strep isn’t routinely provided within the NHS. It would only be picked up if I’d had a swab for something else. I still can’t believe it isn’t tested for or talked about during pregnancy, since for us, if the test was done, Violet could possibly still be alive. Group B Strep can be passed through to your baby via your waters breaking. During my pregnancy, I already was aware how important it is to monitor for infection after the waters breaking, but it still wasn’t enough. I wish no parent had to go through the loss of a chil,d especially from something that can be prevented. After giving birth to Violet, I searched and searched to see if anyone could help offer support. The only avenue I came across was Instagram, where I found other mums in the same situation as me. I spoke to them about how they too were not tested. I also came across Group B Strep Support, who are a charity who raise awareness of the infection, support parents, provide information to the NHS and other medical professions and support study/research days. Since speaking to GBS I realised how much it isn’t spoken about and how many other mums are unaware of the risk of infection.
Group B Strep Support are an amazing charity and someone who we regularly speak to and raise funds for through the fund we set up in memory of Violet ‘Violets Wishes’. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, I would definitely recommend mentioning it to your midwife or buy a private test, which can be done in the last few weeks of pregnancy. In the UK, it isn’t in the NHS guidelines, and therefore it would be up to your midwife to talk about it.
If you have already been tested or have been told you are a carrier, you should be given antibiotics during labour via an IV drip to stop any infection passing on. More information can be found by speaking to Group B Strep Support.
Author credit: Grace Chandler