Group Beta Streptococcus (GBS) is a gram-positive cocci (bacteria) found in approximately 30% of women. This organism is normally found in the intestinal tract, but can be found in the normal genital and urinary areas. If you are among the 30% of women that carry this bacteria, it does not mean that anything is wrong and it is not usually harmful to you. However, a baby's immune system is a little more immature than yours, so if the baby picks up this bacteria from the mother during the delivery process, the baby could potentially become sick. The most common infection to the baby is pneumonia, although meningitis can occur during the first month of life.
The good news is this - we can prevent serious infection to the baby by treating mothers that are positive for GBS in labor with antibiotics such as Penicillin, Erythromycin, or Clindamycin. These drugs are given through an IV during labor. At this time, the bacteria is usually "wiped out" from the vaginal and rectal area so that the baby is not exposed to it.
In our practice, pregnant women are tested for GBS at 35-37 weeks gestation. A sterile swab is applied to the outside of the vaginal and rectal areas. If your culture is positive, you can expect to be treated with antibiotics as soon as labor is diagnosed. If you should deliver before you are tested, we will automatically treat you with antibiotics in labor, just in case you may be colonized with GBS. Having an IV in labor should not decrease your ability to move around during labor. You can request a port insert so that you do not have to be continuously connected to IV fluid. If you have further questions concerning this topic, please do not hesitate to call our office.