Before my son being very very poorly, strep to me was a throat infection that is caused by a cold virus, I had no idea there was strep in other forms or other areas of my body. Maybe that was me just being naive.
I had no idea I had something naturally occurring that could be dangerous to my baby whilst being brought into this world. That could at worse case, kill my baby before he even had a chance to live.
I’m a larger lady with some family history that the drs need to keep an eye on whilst pregnant so i was put under a consultant for my pregnancy and I also had extra scans. I saw a midwife every so often as is routine with all pregnancies and I had all the usual tests to make sure myself and my baby were doing well and growing as we should be.
My pregnancy was fine with a few issues like pelvic girdle pain which made walking and getting comfortable even more difficult than the usual pregnancy aches and pains, and developing ge(o)rd which is extreme heartburn and indegestion. But all in all my pregnancy wasn’t anything unusual.
Approx a week before I was due to have my son I got symptoms of a UTI so dr took samples and a swab, I didn’t know the outcome even though I had asked, but the symptoms went so i put it down to pregnancy niggles and didn’t think anymore of it. If it was serious they would tell me, surely?
Bang on my due date my baby decided he was going to make his appearance, 7am I felt a bit of a pop and went to the bathroom to pop on a pad and as it was the weekend and still early I just timed my contractions and left my husband and older son to sleep.
I timed my contractions and texted my mum to let her know then woke my husband and son and then went about keeping busy whilst my contractions were bearable, I dropped my son to his uncle’s, then went shopping with my mum, hubby, and brother for some things for my brothers girlfriend as she was taken into hospital early hours to have her appendix out as an emergency.
Then we went to lunch and scared a waitress when she asked if I was okay whilst bend over double with another contraction, by telling her yes I’m just in labour (her face was a picture). Then we went to labour ward who checked me over and advised i was only 2cm dilated and it would be a while yet so i went to see my brothers girlfriend as she just got out of surgery.
Back at labour and delivery I was checked again and not progressed much but they said I had to stay in a ward as I needed some IV antibiotics as when they took the swab the week before I was positive for group B Strep. (THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I WAS MADE AWARE OF IT). I asked what it was and it was brushed off as nothing serious, they said it was just something that naturally occurs in women and you need some medication to get rid of it. No big deal, right?
So i had my antibiotics and went up to the ward, I asked for paracetamol as the contractions were strong now. The nurse said when shift change was done they would check me over, they did and sent me right back down to delivery as baby wasnt waiting any longer. With my mum, hubby and a midwife, I stood up bent over leaning on the bed, biting and chuffing on the gas and air I pushed my son into the world at 22.12, Not even an hour after I was given the IV antibiotics so in no way had they made it into him. He was checked over with the usual checks and was reassured a number of times the loading dose of antibiotics I was given in labour would prevent any issues, we were sent home the following morning, I took what they said as they are the experts, right?
Forward a few day’s. We are at home, he was here in my arms, my beautiful little boy but he was so unsettled, always grizzly, barely slept, nothing at all like I remembered his brother being, worst of all he kept losing weight no matter how much he fed. His HV said its ok to lose some at the start especially as he was a nice plump 8lb 7oz born, she will check back on him in 2 days. I knew something wasn’t right, in my heart i knew there was something off.
2 days later he was the same, barely sleeping, crying constantly, grizzly, and still losing weight, HV said possible constipation so try boiled water and cycling his legs, rubbing his tummy. Next day I took him to our gp and they said possibly colic so we were given colief to put in his bottles. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong so I took him A&E and they advised to formula feed instead of breast so we could monitor his intake. I called 111 as he had a temp of 39.6oC at 3 weeks old, Told to strip him down. HV came again and checked his weight he had lost again so she sent us back to A&E. Within minutes of his vitals being taken in A&E he was rushed through for lots of tests and samples taken, he was admitted fitted with an IV and given a lumbar puncture. He was treated for suspected meningitis and put on a course of antibiotics until his tests came back. He was 3 weeks old and at deaths door.
1st pic 2 weeks old. 2nd pic 1 day old. You can see the weight loss.
I thought he was going to die, I remember crying and begging a Doctor not to let him die. Barely sleeping and not daring to leave his side even for a minute. He was on a drip and routine IV antibiotics for a week, he slowly started to perk up after a few days and then I was forced to go home by my family and let my hubby stay with him over night so i could try and sleep and also see our eldest son, who was worried sick about his new baby brother, I was back at the hospital first thing the next morning.
I asked the Dr multiple times a day for any updates on the test results and after 5 days in hospital on antibiotics the Dr said he had E.Coli and Sepsis, related to Group B Strep. He was allowed home to see his big brother for a couple of hours that day, by a week he was well enough to be allowed home but with another 6 weeks of antibiotics ahead of him, more tests to check his kidneys and organs were working okay after his awful start in life.
I almost lost my 2nd son to this, it has made me question. . .
- Why isn’t this tested for as routine like in other countries?
- It is so preventable with a simple test and course of antibiotics, so why are babies still getting ill, and dying from this?
- Test is less than £40 privately so why doesn’t the nhs offer it?
Although he’s now 3 years old and over that it still worries me everyday how this may affect him as he gets older, he’s recently started Pre-School and they think he may be high functioning autistic, which could be an issue related to him getting group b strep whilst being born, only time will tell . . .
Group B strep
Group B strep (strep B) usually live harmlessly inside the digestive system and in the vagina.
Strep B can sometimes cause urinary tract infections (UTIs), skin infections, bone infections, blood infections and pneumonia, particularly in vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those with diabetes.
Strep B in pregnancy
It’s estimated around one in every four pregnant women have strep B bacteria in their vagina or digestive system.
The bacteria can sometimes be passed on to the baby through the amniotic fluid (a clear liquid that surrounds and protects the unborn baby in the womb) or as the baby passes through the birth canal during labour.
Most babies exposed to strep B will be unaffected, but in around 1 in every 2,000 cases they can become infected.
A strep B infection during pregnancy can also cause miscarriage or stillbirth, but this is rare.
Strep B in newborn babies
As newborn babies have a poorly developed immune system, strep B bacteria can quickly spread through their body, causing serious infections such as meningitis and pneumonia.
The symptoms of a strep B infection in a newborn baby usually develop within the first few hours or days of giving birth, and include:
- being floppy and unresponsive
- poor feeding
- grunting when breathing
- an unusually high or low temperature
- unusually fast or slow breathing
- an unusually fast or slow heart rate
In some cases, a baby can pick up a strep B infection a few weeks or months after birth. It’s not known exactly why this happens, but it’s not related to infection during birth. Symptoms of a late-onset group B strep infection can include a fever, poor feeding, vomiting and reduced consciousness.
You should seek immediate medical advice if you think your baby may have a group B strep infection.
Preventing and treating strep B infections in babies
It’s possible to reduce the chances of a baby becoming infected with strep B by identifying cases where there is a risk of the bacteria being passed from a mother to their child and giving the mother antibiotics directly into a vein (intravenously) during labour.
Known risk factors that may mean you need intravenous antibiotics during labour include:
- you have previously given birth to a baby with a strep B infection
- strep B is found in your urine during tests carried out for other purposes
- strep B is found during vaginal and rectal swabs carried out for other purposes
- you have a fever during labour
- you go into labour prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
If your baby develops symptoms of a strep B infection after they’re born, they will have tests to confirm the diagnosis and will be given intravenous antibiotics as soon as possible.
Most babies who become infected can be treated successfully and will make a full recovery, although there is chance they could die as a result of complications such as meningitis. Some babies who survive are left with permanent problems, such as hearing loss, vision loss, and problems with memory and concentration.