I previously wrote about how much I googled and read when I was in the early stages of pregnancy. I read to the point where I would be really worried about all the different things that you had to watch out for or things that could go wrong. Part of the problem for me was keeping my pregnancy secret for those first 12 weeks, which led to me not asking some of the questions I googled to close family or friends.
My husband would often encourage me to step away from the Mummy forums and google and to just focus on keeping a positive mind. Of course he was right, but I kept finding myself online searching for this or that despite knowing that it was making me a wee bit stressed out! We took many a walk in those first few weeks of pregnancy, it was a nice time despite the fact I felt tired and strange, getting used to the little life growing inside of me.
One evening I stumbled across a thread on Group B Strep, I was crying by the time my husband came in with what can only be described as pure panic.
Here’s the thing (I’m going to be blunt here) Mummy forums are brilliant, they are filled with lots of amazing people who are always there to give you support. There is a real community ethos and good rules to keep everything in check. Despite this however, many of the posters speak, as I am doing now, from their personal experience, and not from a medical or trained perspective. This can lead to wildly dramatic posts about health issues, worries and concerns. Posts such as these made me fearful for myself and my baby. The posts I was reading on Group B Strep were scary to say the least, and the only thing I really took out of it was the word death.
Let’s talk real talk. Group B Strep is a naturally occurring bacterium that 1 in every 4 pregnant women carry, how do you know you are a carrier? You don’t until you’ve been screened. When do the NHS screen a pregnant lady? They don’t routinely screen for Group B Strep. Let me just repeat that- the NHS do not routinely screen for Group B Strep. The statistics and information can be very scary, here’s an excerpt below which talks of some of the worst case scenarios:
Not all babies exposed to GBS become infected, but, for those who do, the results can be devastating. GBS can cause babies to be miscarried, stillborn, born prematurely, become very sick, have lifelong handicaps, or die More info here
I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading, but again we decided to think positively, and in our minds we thought if something was wrong we would deal with it when it came up.
I happily paddled along with pregnancy with very positive checkups and scans. Each member of staff I encountered at the Hospital were brilliant. I actually stopped googling and reading all the posts about what could potentially be wrong and found myself in a very positive mindset. I ate healthily (most of the time) and after weeks of morning sickness I actually felt great during pregnancy and had fantastic hair and skin. I really did have that lovely pregnant glow and I felt (and still do) so closely bonded to my husband and little baby who was growing inside me! For me, Pregnancy was a great time, and was the first time in my life where the penny really dropped. I realised what was truly important in life and found a deeper level of contentment that I had not felt before.
Around 37 weeks pregnant I noticed that I was very wet most of the day, much more than usual.I was definitely not weeing myself (that’s more in the post pregnancy sneeze category- seriously girls, do your pelvic floor exercises!!) and really felt quite strange. I was at work but kept going to the toilet to check and clean myself and by the time it was home time I just felt like something wasn’t quite right, I called my Husband, my Midwife and my Mum. I drove home nice and calmly and awaited my midwife calling me back. We spoke for a while and I told her I did not think my waters had broke, but I just didn’t feel right, she told me she would be more content if I popped into the hospital for a check up and would call ahead so they knew I was coming in.
I was a wee bit tearful as I asked my Husband to drive me in, and to locate my green folder with all my notes in it. I gave myself a quick clean and changed my then saturated undies. We made our way into the foetal assessment unit and were assigned a midwife.
At this point I want you to know that I have great respect for our NHS, the staff and especially the Midwives, gynaecologists and Consultants who work with the expectant mothers of the UK. I really, truly rate them. However, the Midwife that seen me on that particular day had a very sharp and bad tempered nature. I actually felt for a minute or two as if I had done something wrong and really had to fight back the tears.
I actually can recall the conversation in minute detail. She started by coldly stating ‘So you’re here because you think your waters have broken?’ I gently spoke back and explained that I didn’t think my waters had broken, but I had been losing more fluid than normal all day, that my Undies had been saturated and I had explained this to my midwife. The Midwife in front of me asked me for my ‘pad’ and ‘pants’. It’s embarrassing but I had neither, only the clean ones I had on from when I had quickly changed at the house. She started to scold me about how I was told to bring them especially because I thought my waters had broken, but I quickly interjected and advised that neither was the case, and that at no point had I been told to bring my pants (I can see her point on that one) and I had absolutely not said, or even leant towards any notion that my waters had broken. I felt thoroughly embarrassed and upset by the way this lady had spoken to me.
Thankfully she left me and my husband alone for awhile as I had to lie on the bed with the wee monitor on my Tummy and press the button each time our wee baby kicked. Babybear seemed to kick right where the monitor was many times. There is nothing better than feeling your wee baby move in your tummy when you are having a pregnancy concern. I had a small cry with my husband but didn’t want to pass the negative vibes on to Babybear so settled myself, thankfully a new Midwife came in and she was lovely!! She advised that the previous lady had come to the end of a very long shift and had gone home for the day.
A scan revealed my waters were fine and our wee baby was comfy and very active. The lovely Midwife asked if it was OK to take some swabs just to be on the safe side. I agreed and she told me if nothing came up I’d hear no more from them. We went home and I rested happily with all the panic over
At my work, I was training a lovely girl called Ailish at work when the phone rang and a Midwife from the hospital swiftly informed me I had Group B Strep. I immediately started to cry, I was honestly inconsolable. The Midwife on the phone told me I shouldn’t worry too much and to make an appointment with my community nurse to go through it alL I could barely speak as I called my husband to tell him, I was just so worried.
Ailish, my young apprentice was very comforting and told me she had a very strong faith (as I do) and that she was confident God had a plan in all of this. Regardless of your beliefs, I wanted to share this because it brought me great comfort.
My husband and I went along to my community Midwife and she was fantastic, she went through the NHS hooklet on Group B Strep and really reassured us that the risks, especially when it was known that the mother had Group B Strep were minimal. You can read more from the NHS here.
Group B strep is common in pregnant women and rarely causes any problems.
Without going into too much detail as I want to blog separately about my birth story, I had the IV fitted to give me the antibiotics I needed during labour, and baby David was born without contracting Group B Strep. After he was born I heard of at least 4 other women I knew who had perfectly healthy babies despite having Group B Strep. We were all very lucky and I felt especially lucky that they had found out I had it.
I still don’t fully understand why we don’t all get routinely screened, but I do feel it is important to raise awareness about GBS, it’s important that women know what it is, the risks but moreover that many of our babies are OK. Please read more on the NHS website here.
Here’s a petition to encourage the government to make screening mandatory: https://www.change.org/p/nhs-provide-tests-for-group-b-strep-to-prevent-any-more-avoidable-deaths-of-newborn-babies
Please feel free to comment or message your experiences. I’m always here to talk to you!