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Pregnancy And Group B Strep Prevention

Frequently Asked Questions

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Updated June 09, 2014

How will I know if I need antibiotics to prevent passing group B strep to my baby?

You should get a screening test late in pregnancy to see if you carry group B strep. If your test comes back positive, you should get antibiotics through the vein (IV) during labor.

If you had a previous baby who got sick with group B strep disease, or if you had a urinary tract infection (bladder infection) during this pregnancy caused by group B strep, you also need to get antibiotics through the vein (IV) when your labor starts.

How do you find out if you carry group B strep during pregnancy?

CDC’s revised guidelines recommend that a pregnant woman be tested for group B strep in her vagina and rectum when she is 35 to 37 weeks pregnant. The test is simple and does not hurt. A sterile swab (“Q-tip”) is used to collect a sample from the vagina and the rectum. This is sent to a laboratory for testing.

What happens if my pregnancy screening test is positive for group B strep?

To prevent group B strep bacteria from being passed to the newborn, pregnant women who carry group B strep should be given antibiotics through the vein (IV) at the time of labor or when their water breaks.

Are there any symptoms if you are a group B strep carrier?

Most pregnant women have no symptoms when they are carriers for group B strep bacteria.

Sometimes, group B strep can cause bladder infections during pregnancy, or infections in the womb during labor or after delivery.Being a carrier (testing positive for group B strep, but having no symptoms) is quite common. Around 25% of women may carry the bacteria at any time. This doesn’t mean that they have group B strep disease, but it does mean that they are at higher risk for giving their baby a group B strep infection during birth.

What if I don’t know whether or not I am group B strep positive when my labor starts?

Talk to your doctor about your group B strep status. Pregnant women who do not know whether or not they are group B strep positive when labor starts should be given antibiotics if they have:
  • labor starting at less than 37 weeks (preterm labor)
  • prolonged membrane rupture (water breaking more than 18 hours before labor starts)
  • fever during labor.

Will a C-section prevent group B strep in a newborn?

A C-section should not be used to prevent early-onset group B strep infection in infants. To learn more about C-sections and group B strep prevention, please review this section (Planned Cesarean Delivery) of the revised group B strep guidelines. If you need to have a C-section for other reasons, and you are group B strep positive, you will not need antibiotics for group B strep only, unless you begin labor or your water breaks before the surgery begins.

What should I do if my water breaks early?

If your water breaks before term, get to the hospital right away. If your group B strep test has not been done, or if you don’t know if you have been tested, you should talk with your doctor about group B strep disease prevention. If you have already tested positive for group B strep, remind the doctors and nurses during labor.

Can I breastfeed my baby if I am group B strep positive?

Yes. Women who are group B strep positive can breastfeed safely. There are many benefits for both the mother and child.
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