About this time last year, I discovered I was pregnant. After the incredulity, the joy and the, “Shit! What are we doing now?” loads of questions (to which I didn’t have an immediate answer for), started to populate my mind.
Which hospital should I choose?
What can I eat? I knew that I had to avoid certain foods, but what exactly? What were the risks?
What if I get sick? Could I take medicines?
Would it harm my baby to fly abroad with her?
My level of anxiety decreased as soon as I met my midwife. She answered all of my questions and she introduced me, step by step, to all the routine tests and checks that I had to do. She’d been amazing during the whole pregnancy and was a great help to me and my partner, enabling us to understand what to expect each trimester. Pregnancy is a journey full of joy but, at the same time, it’s very scary. I’ve tried to stay positive the whole time. However, the thought that something could go wrong at any time, never left me. It’s also a journey full of uncertainty and soon enough, I realised there’s at least one thing Google can’t answer: what’s precisely happening (right now) inside my womb? This question was fuelled by the fact that the NHS only offer 2 scans in 9 months – this never seemed right to me.
When I discovered that the Group B Strep test was not offered by the NHS – as a routine test – I was shocked. The reasons for my shock were as follows:
- Up to one in five of all pregnant women will be carriers of Group B Strep in the birth canal and the bacterium can be passed during labour to their baby. One in five newborns who are infected with Group B Strep suffer from serious, life-changing illnesses such as meningitis, septicaemia or pneumonia, which can have life-long effects such as brain damage, hearing loss and sight loss. One in ten babies with the infection will die from it.
- In the UK 70 babies a year die from Group B Strep infection.
- The only way of knowing if a pregnant woman is carrying the bacterium is by having a laboratory test.
In the UK, pregnant women are not routinely offered testing for group B Strep by the NHS unlike in many other developed countries.
I certainly didn’t want to take any risk and I decided to take that laboratory test. My midwife also confirmed that it was ideal to get it done. I got tested with the Strepelle’s home-to-lab kit (£39.99). The test is very easy and the kit provides all the instructions you need. I prepared the samples, as described in the leaflet, and I sent it to the laboratory using the prepaid envelope provided. After only 3 working days, I received an SMS with the laboratory result. I tested negative to the Group B strep bacteria. If the result had been positive, I would’ve received a letter or email for the hospital, in order for them to provide me with antibiotics during labour. Not bad at all. I personally think that there’s no better money spent than the money we spend on our health. And, in this case, I would have done everything possible to prevent potential health risks to my daughter. The test can be bought at http://www.strepelle.com or at independent pharmacies. You can read more about the test kit on Strepelle‘s website and please read more about the Group B strep on the NHS website too. Below are a couple of links:
What are the risks of group B streptococcus (GBS) infection during pregnancy?
Please help me spreading the awareness on this major topic!