Declining Group B Strep Test And Antibiotics

During my first pregnancy I was tested for group b strep (GBS). I had not done my research and went along with what the doctors told me. I tested positive and was given IV antibiotics during my birth. Since I had a c section this added IV was not incredibly uncomfortable. With my second pregnancy I did concurrent care with an OB at a hospital as well as with my home birth midwife. I tested for group b strep again and was positive. This did not change my decision to do a home birth nor did it change anything about my home birth.

 GBS can be present one day and gone the next. Women are typically tested for GBS around the 36 week of pregnancy. While GBS can be present one day, it may not be present the next. Likewise, if you test negative for GBS today, tomorrow you might test positive. Why do we get tested in the first place if there is such a huge margin of error?

While group b strep can be very serious for a baby, it is rarely a problem. GBS infections occur in approximately 1 out of every 4444 babies born to GBS colonized women (.0225%). This means out of all the women who test positive for GBS, ONLY 1 out of every 4444 babies contract the infection. Less than a half percent. Yet antibiotics are routinely given to pregnant women and their unborn baby.

A study done by Southern California Kaiser Permanente Hospitals from 1988-1996 showed the use of IV antibiotics during labor “did not change the clinical spectrum of disease or the onset of clinical signs of infection within 24 hours of birth for term infants with EOGBS infection.” (Pediatrics, Aug 2000; 106: 244-250). For almost a decade this study shows us that even if you test positive for GBS, IV antibiotics did not change the outcome. Why are we administering IV antibiotics if they do not do anything good!

Administering IV antibiotics does not help the mother or the baby. In fact, it does the opposite. When IV antibiotics are introduced a few things happen. First, the mother is hooked up to an IV. Which may mean she is no longer mobile. Not being mobile during labor is not a good thing. Most women move around to help ease the pressure during contractions. When a woman is hooked up to an IV, her movements are limited. Introducing IV antibiotics also changes the vaginal flora. It is important for a baby to pass through the vagina and be introduced to the vaginal flora. There are long term health benefits to this. So much so that mothers and doctors are starting to “seed” a baby with the mothers vaginal flora after a c section. The use of antibiotics during labor has increased risk of the baby developing other life-threatening infections such as sepsis & E. Coli. AND antibiotics fail to prevent infection in 30% of cases.

You absolutely can decline the GBS testing as well as antibiotics during labor. You may have to sign an Against Medical Advice (AMA) form. This is purely for the hospitals malpractice insurance. You have every right to refuse the GBS testing as well as IV antibiotics.

While I may discuss medical procedures and options, I am NOT a doctor.  My opinions are my opinions, they are not medical advice. Please, do research, speak with your doctor and make an INFORMED decision. Whatever that decision  may be.

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