I am 36 weeks pregnant today, so seven days from being “full term”, 28 days to due date with potentially a further 14 days on top of that if “baby number two” decides its not time to arrive just yet! 

So today, at 36 weeks pregnant its time to do my Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Screening Test.  It needs to be undertaken between 35 and 37 weeks gestation and I wanted to share my why’s and the how’s for the benefit of other mums-to-be and to help support and raise awareness of the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborn babies in the UK.  GBS infects around 700 babies each year in the UK of whom sadly 75 or so die and around 40 survivors suffer long-term problems as a result.  Source:  Group B Strep Support  If GBS is identified prior to labour the treatment is both very straight forward and successful with intravenous antibiotics given to the mother during labour to prevent them passing the the infection to their baby. 

I first heard about GBS when one of mums friends lost a grandchild to the infection, one of those terribly sad friend of a friend stories.  I had never heard of GBS then and I am not alone, with figures reporting up to nine out of ten pregnant women have ‘never heard’ about Group B Strep bacteria.  When I became pregnant with Lil’ H my mum was insistent I be tested for GBS so I asked my midwife to be tested and was told that they don’t test for GBS.  It was then that I became aware that the NHS does not routinely test for GBS.  Back at home, a cup of coffee and a few Google searches later and I was shocked mums-to-be weren’t being tested but I did find the GBS home testing kit available free of charge. 

So when I reached around 35 weeks pregnant with Lil’ H I did the test myself at home, sent the kit off for processing (this costs a nominal fee of £32) and had the results texted back to me.  The results were negative but I was reassured I was entering the unknown of the delivery room with at least one box ticked!  Admittedly there were a thousands more unknowns awaiting me in there with the gas & air, but both my mum and I certainly got some peace of mind from knowing that there was just one less thing to worry about.  I tested myself last time and I’m testing myself this time too.

One of my Tweeting and Blogging buddies, the lovely Violet Posy, encountered Group B Strep when her daughter Lily was born, thankfully her traumatic journey has a happy ending.  To read Violet Posy’s from the heart post about the events surrounding Lily’s arrival and her battle with the GBS infection just click here

I test myself for GBS because …
The NHS doesn’t test me.
The implications for my unborn/newborn child are life-threatening. 
I have shoes, handbags, a mobile phone and meals out which cost more.
It takes less than 5 minutes, super quick and easy.
I don’t know why I wouldn’t.

Strep_Screening_TestThe Group B Streptococcus Screening Test Kit is supplied and delivered free of charge.  There is a small cost of £32 to cover the laboratory costs of processing and providing the results.  Money which I feel couldn’t be better spent.  I got my free kit from www.MumStuff.co.uk, for your own just click here

Update 16th September – the results are in click here