How to Prevent Group B Strep During Pregnancy

pregnant woman in a hospital with an IV drip getting antibiotics for gbs

It’s time to get tested for Group B Step (GBS) and you are nervous. Why do I need to get tested? Is it dangerous? What happens if I’m positive? And is there any way to prevent group B strep during pregnancy? 

Don’t worry momma, all will be okay. 

It sounds so much scarier than it actually is. And even if you do test positive, the outcomes are still bright and cheerful. 

But enough talk, let’s get into all the details of Group B Strep during pregnancy, how to prevent it, and what to do after you have been tested. 

What is Group B Strep? 

Group B Streptococcus (also called GBS) is a type of bacteria that can live in the vagina. GBS typically has a life cycle of about 5 weeks and comes and goes just like normal bacteria. In fact, 25-30% of people have it at a time. 

Is it Painful? 

GBS causes no pain or discomfort, in fact, you will probably never notice when you have it or not. 

doctor holding an empty pee cup for a woman to get tested

Why do they Test for GBS? 

Even though GBS is not dangerous at all for the expecting mom, a very small percentage of newborn babies who come in contact with it can get sick. From that, an even smaller amount can get life-threatening diseases or illnesses. 

It is because of this small percentage that pregnant women are tested at around 35-36 weeks for GBS. 

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What are my Chances of Testing Positive? 

GBS is very common, so it is normal to test positive and should not be something you worry about. Around 80.4% of women test negative for GBS, where the rest test positive. Out of the 19.6% that do test positive, only 9.8% pass the GBS bacteria onto their baby, and from that only 0.2% actually are infected and get sick. 

Don’t worry, even if you do test positive, the chances of your baby getting a GBS disease is about 0.5%, and from that only 5-9% do not survive. 

How do Babies get GBS? 

As the baby passes through your birth canal during birth, they come in contact with the vaginal fluids and all the bacteria in them. Some of these fluids will enter their mouth and make their way through their digestive system. This is how a baby can become infected with GBS during labor and delivery. 

What if I Test Positive? 

If you do test positive, you will most likely be given antibiotics during labor through an IV. This antibiotic helps reduce the amount of GBS in your body, reducing the chances greatly that your baby will contract some.  

The chance of baby getting sick if you are given antibiotics is somewhere around 1 in 4,000. If you aren’t given antibiotics, these chances rise to about 1 in 200. That is a massive difference. 

However, there are some downsides to the antibiotics, so make sure to consult a health practitioner to make the right informed choice of getting the antibiotics or not. 

doctor holding lab results from woman who tried to prevent group b strep during pregnancy

What Can I Do to Prevent Getting Tested Positive? 

While there is no sure-fire way to test negative during the swab testing, there are a few things you can do to help keep your vaginal flora healthy and prevent GBS in the first place. 

As I said, the key is vaginal health. Your vagina is usually pretty acidic, which lets good bacteria called lactobacilli thrive and wards off any bad bacteria such as GBS and Yeast infections. 

When this balance is distorted and your vagina becomes less acidic and more alkaline, the bad bacteria thrive and cause various infections. 

So, keeping your vaginal pH levels at its optimal level is the best way to prevent getting GBS in the first place.  

Below are a few helpful tips in preventing GBS and keeping your lady parts nice and healthy! (1) 

Throughout your pregnancy: 

  • take a daily probiotic supplement 
  • eat foods high in Vitamin C 
  • eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, or even fermented foods. 
  • minimize refined carbs and sugars, aka unhealthy junk food 

2-4 weeks before the test: 

  • minimize heavy starches such as potatoes, rice, and bread 
  • cut out refined sugars and high sugar fruits such as bananas, mangos, etc. 
  • take a daily vitamin C supplement 
  • do a nightly sitz bath with 1-2 drops of Tea Tree essential oil 
  • take a probiotic supplement daily 
  • take unscented garlic capsules orally, or increase fresh garlic in foods 
  • if capsules are a no-go, wipe some organic Greek yogurt or kefir (about one teaspoon) onto your vagina. 

1 week before the test: 

  • insert one probiotic capsule into the vagina in the morning 
  • insert one garlic capsule into the vagina at night. You can even use a clove of fresh garlic, just remove it in the morning. 
  • do a perineal wash with grapefruit seed extract and tea tree oil in a squirt bottle. 
woman sitting on bed holding her big pregnant belly as she is trying to prevent group b strep in her pregnancy

While testing for GBS may be nerve-wracking and seem scary at first, it is not something to worry about. And even if you prevent group b strep in the first place and still test positive, don’t fret! Some simple antibiotics or following the above points until you give labor will minimize any chances of your baby getting sick. 

I hope this was helpful and informative. If yes, make sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter where we give you weekly tips and updates from the blog! 

Until next time, 

(1) Additional Information Source: http://www.pomegranate-midwives.com/resources/third-trimester/group-b-strep/ 

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