Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Boring Lesson on Being Strep Positive

Hey non-preggers people, you might find this pretty dull! Just trying to be friendly and give you a heads up!

Today I went in for my 37 week 5 day visit. First of all, my cervix is still closed. Phooey. Last week I had my Strep B swab, and just like with T's pregnancy I'm positive. So what is Strep B anyway? Here's a really great article from the American Pregnancy Association. If there is a nifty article than why am I still writing about it? Because my doctor, who I adore, explained it in a really cool and helpful way.

Some background: I'm a huge pussy. Big surprise, I know. I hate and dread pain and can't handle it at all. Therefore I'm a huge fan of the epidural. I really admire those  ladies who go the natural route. As long as there aren't extenuating circumstances that put the mom and babe at risk I think home birth ladies are kick ass. But that isn't me. I need drugs. All that said, I don't love the idea of a lot of medical intervention when it isn't needed. Being induced is evil and beyond painful. You NEED an epidural faster because you are  immediately in the thick of huge contractions. Your body doesn't have time to warm up. And sometimes the epidural can slow down the contractions, so more induction drugs are given, so the epidural needs to be turned up, and on and on and on. That didn't happen with me. T came quickly, but my body was not warmed up and I tore horribly even after having an episiotomy. But, I had preeclampsia. My blood pressure was worrisomely high. My doctor waited as long as she felt was safe before inducing, and I made it to 39 weeks, which was pretty good. She was not inducing for convenience, but for my health and safety. Yes, I have big problems with her and how I was treated, but they have nothing to do with her decision to induce. And yet, I made it clear to my current doctor that I'd like to avoid it at all costs this time around.

Part of the medical intervention crap was being hooked up to an IV drip. I wanted to avoid that (until epidural time), and I wanted to avoid antibiotics. I had tons of IV antibiotics with T because I was Strep Positive and because of the D&C to remove the left behind placenta 5 days after his birth. And in my humble opinion that is why we got a nasty and painful case of thrush. Um yeah, I really don't want to go there again.

But here is what my doctor told me about Group B Strep that changed my mind. He said about 25% of all woman carry it in their "natural flora" (Z loved that turn of phrase and has been using it nonstop since). He said it wasn't weird, it wasn't bad, it just was part of some ladies. He also said it comes and goes. If you've tested positive in the past you will always be a carrier. And if you test negative at 36 weeks there is no guarantee you won't be positive when you give birth. That said, the risk to the baby is low unless your water broke ages before you deliver or you go into labor before you're full term. But if the baby gets it, well there is a good chance he'll get really sick. Or die. And the antibiotics make that low risk much much smaller.

I'm not a big risk gal. Suddenly the thrush thing didn't seem like a big deal. He said if I tested negative they would only give me the antibiotics if I asked. I told him to tell me when to ask and I'd do it. I trust him completely. Turns out it's a moot point. I'm positive so I'll be getting the drugs. The sucky thing is you need to stay in the hospital for 48 hours after the baby is born so they can make sure he doesn't have it. But, whatever, I can deal. And now I know if we go for a third that I'm a carrier. And I'll probably request the antibiotics during the delivery no matter what.

Yes, I know antibiotics are massively overprescribed in this country. I try to avoid them at all costs under normal circumstances. I also try to only buy meat and dairy for my family that is free from antibiotics. I know that a lot of people will find my doctor's recommendation suspect. If it's a pretty low risk why bother with antibiotics? But minimizing a real risk to my son during childbirth is worth it to me. Also, having a doctor who takes the time to explain his reasoning makes a huge difference. My doc the first time around explained nothing about the positive test (among many other things). And I was too intimidated to ask her.

The difference I feel with this pregnancy, the way my doctor will take all the time in the world to explain my smallest question, has changed my expectations when it comes to medical professionals permanently. I trust him, I am grateful for his wisdom, when he tells me stuff that makes sense I'll basically follow him to the end of the world. And now that I've experienced someone like him I'll always expect that level of excellence.
Purple sheets! Boba Fett Lamp! 

Cuddling with Daddy.

Hard to see what is going on here, but he was so unbelievably excited during the fight at Jabba's place on Tatooine in Return of the Jedi.


  1. I tested positive with all 3 of mine. I got antibiotics the first two times. England was totally different. I had to fight to get antibiotics, they do not give them to you at all unless you had a baby who actually got sick. Dave and I became the stereotypical Americans and fought them on this one, it wasn't worth the risk to us, so they agreed to antibiotics reluctantly. However, my labors are always really fast (thanks to my mom), so there wasn't time to give me any antibiotics before P was born. So we ended up being in the hospital for 4 days, which sucked. 48 hours of antibiotics for him and 24 hours of observation afterwards to make sure he was good. I would do it all over again though, I couldn't imagine taking an unnecessary risk. My English doctor used the natural flora term too - we thought it was funny too.

  2. Since it was important to you, I'm glad you fought for the antibiotics. We are the same way about risks with the kids. At least you won't have to beg for them in December! Oh, and please shoot for the 18th. I'd love to share a birthday with one of your kids!

  3. T and H have the same birthday, so that is a start!

  4. No way! I love it! Well, Happy Birthday to her from us!