Group B Strep: an introduction..

Group B strep and birth choices

Please note- this topic is MASSIVE, so please take this post just as a VERY brief intro. Further reading has been shared at the bottom but I would absolutely recommend Sara Wickham’s book on GBS- here.

GBS is a normal bacteria that actually around 20-40% of us have living in our gut or vagina every day. Even in pregnancy it’s usually completely harmless, however if a baby develops a GBS infection in can be incredibly serious- it may cause preterm birth, pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis. Around 1/1750 babies born to a mother with known GBS will develop a GBS infection.

One of the tricky things with GBS is that it ‘comes and goes’, and whilst you may have been testing ‘positive’ one week, a couple of weeks later you may not. In the U.K. women are not routinely screened for GBS as there is no high quality evidence showing whether or not it would improve outcomes and would lead to around 99.8% of babies to mothers with GBS being exposed to unnecessary antibiotics- the impact of which is unknown but may affect their gut microbiome and resistance to antibiotics. 

If you are found to have GBS in pregnancy, The current recommendations for birth are that you will be offered a course of IV antibiotics every 4hrs in labour. Which reduces the chance of your baby developing GBS infection from 1/400 to 1/4000. Your baby will be closely monitored for 12 hours after birth and if symptoms of infection develop they can be given IV antibiotics too.

Receiving antibiotics in labour doesn’t take long and shouldn’t affect your ability to mobilise/ continue with the sort of birth that you are hoping for. Sometimes women are encouraged to be on the labour ward for this reason- if this isn’t somewhere you want to be, then it’s important to have a conversation antenatally about how your birth choices can be best supported. Can this be offered on a midwifery led unit or at home? Can you attend the hospital to receive them and then head back home? You may prefer not to have antibiotics at all.

If you’ve been diagnosed with GBS, I’ve shared a long reading list on PB Online. Gather your information, Ask your healthcare providers how they can best support your decisions and make the choices that feel best for you and your baby!

Group B Strep Information

AIMS- GBS book

Sarah Wickham (Midwife) resources

Group B Strep Support (GBSS):

RCOG Green-top Guidelines:

RCOG Patient info


Research into screening

Ongoing support from GBSS

Write here…

If you are interested in taking the next step to a positive birth, Positively Birthing Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Classes run throughout Surrey and SW London- areas including Surbiton, Esher, Teddington, Cobham, TwickenhamSt Margarets, Thames Ditton, Molesey, Richmond, Wimbledon, Kingston, Sunbury, Epsom, Ewell, and beyond. All bookings can be made here.