Monday, July 9, 2012

Preventing Group B Strep (GBS) Transmission in Post-SHTF Pregnancies

This is my fifth pregnancy. My first pregnancy was in 2001. Certainly research has benefited from the intervening years, and one of the things that is different this go-round is my midwife's attitude toward me being GBS+. (please remember I am not a doctor or midwife and this is me relating my experience to you as I would to a friend over coffee. Consult your own medical provider.)

Now, if you don't know, being GBS+ is a "condition" that affects about 1 in 4 women. It simply means that a given woman- pregnant or not- carries the group B strep bacteria in her digestive tract. The time that this is important to know is when it's time to deliver a baby- the baby can pick up the bacteria from the mother and become sick. GBS is responsible for affecting about 1 in every 2,000 babies in the United States. source Frequently, the time the bacteria is transmitted is when the water breaks and then there is a large time gap before delivery. This is what happened with my third child. She was lethargic after birth and needed 10 days of IV antibiotics. (How would you handle that in a grid-down situation?! If you make pregnancy,  labor and delivery preps as I've suggested before, you could print out the article linked above and add it to there.)

Now what is controversial is this: if in your pregnancy you test positive for GBS (usually at some point in week 35-38), you are strongly suggested to have a course of IV antibiotics when you go into labor to prevent the bacteria from being transmitted to your baby. If you have ever had a baby be treated for GBS, you are pretty much put on them whether or not you test positive this pregnancy or not.


Now, when my midwife learned that not only did I test positive in each of my four previous pregnancies for GBS, and that I also had an newborn hospitalized with sepsis (attributed to GBS), she suggested a novel idea: change my body pH so that it would be inhospitable to the bacteria.

So I did what she said, and last week I had my test, and I was NEGATIVE!! How exciting this was for me! Let me tell you how I did it. If you have a pregnant woman in your group/family when/if TSHTF, you can assume she is GBS+ for safety's sake and prevent, as much as possible, the possibility of there being any GBS to transmit to her infant

So, what I did:
  1.  as your due date approaches, every time you use the bathroom do a quick rinse with a vinegar and water solution. Use about an ounce and pat dry. A Peri-Bottle is perfect for this and should be in your pregnancy preps. The bacteria don't like an acidic habitat.
  2. each evening insert a probiotic into the vagina so it can dissolve. This helps colonize beneficial bacteria in the birth canal that will overpower the GBS and replace it with good flora. In a grid down situation this can be replaced with live culture yogurt.
  3. over the course of the day, drink lots of water, and in each glass of water splash some apple cider vinegar. This helps change your body's acidity as well. 
  4. eat foods high in beneficial bacteria such as yogurt and sauerkraut to help colonize your entire digestive tract with helpful bacteria.
There you have it, four easy steps to help ensure a healthy infant! I can't tell you how excited I am that I "passed my test" last week!

There are two kinds of GBS infections in newborns: early onset and late onset. My midwife suggests taking the baby's temperature every day for a month to be on the lookout for late onset. This way you can be alerted as soon as possible to a brewing infection in your infant.




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