There are so many things about pregnancy and labor that you typically don’t know about until you’ve experienced it. I, for one, had never even heard of Group B Strep until it was time for the test during my first pregnancy.
What is Group B Strep, you ask? I won’t go into too many details because a quick Google search will bring up countless articles on the subject (like this one), but basically it is a bacteria that many people harbor in their intestines and can be harmful if passed along to your baby during birth. The chances of this are relatively low, but the harm that can be caused is real and should be taken seriously.
If you test positive for Group B (usually around week 35 or 36 of your pregnancy), then you will be administered antibiotics intravenously during labor.
So why was it important for me to try and get a negative GBS test result? Mainly because I want to avoid bombarding both me and my baby with antibiotics during labor. There is a lot of really healthy bacteria in your birth canal that is so, so good for your baby. But all that bacterial goodness gets wiped out with antibiotics. It’s kind of like when you are sick and are prescribed an antibiotic – it kills your sickness, but it also destroys all the good bacteria in your stomach as well, leaving you with additional stomach/digestive issues.
But also, in my hopes of having an unmedicated birth, I wanted a negative GBS test result so that I can hopefully avoid being hooked up to an IV during labor. I was able to do this during Theo’s birth and it was incredibly helpful in getting me the natural delivery I wanted.
With Oliver, I was so sick that I was attached to an IV the whole time and pumped full of more drugs than Courtney Love on a Friday night. I still achieved an unmedicated birth in terms of no epidural, but I had loooots of antibiotics in me.
If you are hoping for an unmedicated birth, let me give you a little tip that my Doula gave us during our birthing classes that has been incredibly useful in helping me facilitate the type of birthing experiences I wanted:
There is a standard protocol to birth. Plain and simple. Walk into any hospital and they already know how they want things to go. If you know, going into birth, that you have wishes that are even slightly different than the expected norm, then I have two words of advice for you: be kind, and have a compromise in mind.
The absolute worst thing you can do is go into your doctor’s appointments or your birth with an argumentative, combatant attitude. The doctors and nurses are just doing their job, according to how they always do it. Whether you think they are right or wrong doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is finding a calm and respectful way to communicate your wishes. Sometimes, this involves compromise.
Take the IV issue, for example. I know that it’s standard protocol to be immediately hooked up to an IV upon entering a hospital for birth. But, as a compromise, we simply request that they insert the IV port only, so that it’s ready to go in the case that I should need it, but leaves me unhindered to move freely in the mean time. This compromise is respectful of hospital policy, while honoring a mom’s wishes for a natural birth in a hospital setting.
This pregnancy, I knew that my combined desire to have an unmedicated birth and a negative GBS test would give me a pretty good chance at staying off an IV during labor. So, I was thrilled when my nurse told me yesterday that my results were in…and they were negative!
I was very proactive in my attempts to get a negative result and I would like to share those with you today! I shared this list with my nurse-midwife at my last appointment and she had heard of other women doing many of the same things. She did make a really good point, however. All I know is that I tested negative to GBS after taking these steps. We have no way of knowing if I already had GBS and these steps treated it, or if I never had it to begin with. Some women claim that that they have naturally treated their GBS by taking these measures, but that was not my experience so I can’t speak to those results. So, take this information for what it is and, as always, talk about it with your health care provider/doula/midwife.
Natural Ways to Get a Negative Group B Result In Pregnancy
I did a lot of research on the matter, but one blog that I routinely use as my go-to natural health resource is Wellness Momma. You can read her article on what she did to prevent and treat GBS here.
Let me stop here to say that there are a lot of funky things you can stick in funky places in your efforts to be GBS negative. If you want to be that adventurous, more power to you. I kept things pretty simple, though.
For starters, I focused on creating a really healthy digestive environment by daily ingesting probiotics, Kefir, Kombucha, and fermented foods. A diet rich in these things is good in general, but I really stepped up my consumption 2-3 weeks before my test.
A healthy digestive system is no joke. Have you heard about all the research being done on the connection between gut health and issues such as anxiety and Alzheimer’s? It’s pretty incredible. Anyways…
The second thing I did was take about 3 baths a week with raw, apple cider vinegar. I simply added about 1/2 C to my bathwater along with my epsom salts and bath clay that I usually use. The theory behind this is that bacteria can’t live in the acidic environment of the vinegar and therefore dies. Plus raw apple cider vinegar is just a great way to bring your good bacteria back into balance.
Additionally, I continue to take my daily prenatal vitamin, Astragalus supplement (for immunity support), apple cider vinegar capsule (for allergies) and baby aspirin (proven to help reduce your risk of HELLP Syndrome).
I hope you found this information helpful. And if you have your GBS test coming up, best of luck!