Over the years, I’ve had a lot of friends/family/clients come to me like “OMG I HAVE GBS IS IT AN STD WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!” (and yes, it’s all one sentence like that – ha!). So I thought I’d clear a few things up, for everyone’s sake:
First of all, GBS is NOT an STD. Let me say it again for those in back: this is not sexually transmitted and your partner is not in danger in any way.
There are these colonies…..
Basically your intestines are like a giant bacteria prom. They’re all dancing around and trying to be the most popular. They’re not all bad. That’s why we take probiotics and feel good about putting billions of bacteria into our bodies.
GBS (group B strep) is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestine and can travel to the vagina, anus, and urinary tract. Before you think you’re weird and freak out, approximately 25% of the population is colonized with GBS and most without even noticing. You notice when you’re pregnant because someone swabs your downstairs and sends the q-tip to a lab to watch it grow. This generally happens between 35 and 37 weeks, in case you’re wondering.
So why is GBS a big deal?
Well, while GBS doesn’t usually affect the carrier or their newborn, it can. And it’s super not great for newborns if it happens. You can read all the scarier aspects on the CDC website, but know that the risk is about 1-2% even in moms not treated with antibiotics.
So what happens if your doctor diagnoses you as GBS+?
Typically, you will receive IV antibiotics every 4 hours during labor, though you should check with your care provider on their personal protocol. You will probably already have an IV or saline-lock if you’re in a hospital, so it won’t change your experience much overall. If you’re under the care of a midwife, there may be alternatives available.
“Does this mean I can’t encapsulate my placenta?”
The answer to that question is much the same as every question about placenta encapsulation: it is up to you. Houston Birth & Baby has high safety standards for processing that help eliminate some of the concern, but ultimately you have to do what you’re most comfortable with. We’re definitely happy to chat about it any time!
Ultimately being GBS+ isn’t something you need to panic over. Speak with your provider and come up with a plan that you’re both comfortable with. Odds are in your favor that all will be fine, but take whatever precautions make you feel the most prepared and safe.