Had my first appt today and very happy with it. One thing came up that I am wanting to research is the GBS test. I know a little about it, and I generally refuse all testing, however my mw explained that if we were to transfer to the hospital and I didn't have the test, they would automatically put me on antibiotics and wouldn't release us after the birth until the baby had been observed for 24-48 hrs. I don't want to deal with that in the event of a transfer, so I am looking into more info. It seems that if I had the test and it was negative, I would have a protection from that type of intervention. But, it also seems like a meaningless test since you can test positive one day and then negative another. I did refuse this test in my last pregnancy, but I am not sure the possible consequences were clear to me, or even the same since that was 8 years ago. So, I was hoping to hear some thoughts from other homebirthers while I research this so I can make a good decision. Anybody have any thoughts?
Hi! This is going to be long, I just want to prep you for what hospital experiences can be like if you are GBS(+) or GBS unknown. I was GBS(-) for my first birth-no problem. Then I came up GBS(+) for my second pregnancy (ugh!). My OB (no midwife available in our area) said that to not have antibiotics for 6 hrs in labor would be malpractice in his mind. I traveled to a high risk OB I trusted for a 2nd opinion, who said that "if you are worried about infection, have your baby at home, your baby is more likely to get a hospital acquired infection than GBS from you". (I LOVED that OB, we moved and he delivered my 3rd baby). At that point in time I couldn't switch doctors, felt locked in, so I agreed to get the antibiotics. Fast forward to labor-my first baby had been incredibly long (46 hrs) so for my second, I wasn't in a rush to get to the hospital. Less than two hours after my very first contraction at home, he suddenly descended and was crowning, and then born in two contractions. His face was really purple (from bruising, but we didn't know it at the time) so we went to the hospital in the middle of the night with him. They flipped out, and kept us for 48 hours to give him antibiotic injections in his legs until the blood GBS test they ran on him came back negative, then we were allowed to take him home. In retrospect I wish we had waited for our regular doctor and skipped the hospital, but not knowing why his facial color was off we weren't wasting any time. They treated it as a MAJOR risk factor.
For my third pregnancy, again, I tested GBS(+). I decided just to get the antibiotics in labor, because I never wanted to have a baby go through that again and I wanted to get out of the hospital quickly... this time I had a fast labor, and was only on the antibiotic drip for 4 hours before delivery (6 hours is considered completely treated). My OB was fabulous, but the only person who could release the baby to go home was a pediatrician on call, and he was a creep. He literally shouted at us for declining the Hepatitis B newborn vaccination, and kept our baby for 48 hours running blood tests for GBS. The tests came back negative. He still refused to release us, saying he wanted the baby to stay 48 more hours "for observation" (like I said, he had something against us for refusing the vaccination). I asked what the observation entailed, and he replied "taking the baby's temperature twice a day to monitor for fever". I told him I could take the baby's temp at home every 2 hours if he wanted, this was my third child and I was fully prepared to care for it, and he still refused to dismiss our son. We left the hospital after signing A.M.A. forms, and since that involved leaving with a child, a social worker met us in our room as we were preparing to walk out. The nurses were FABULOUS. They told the CPS worker that there was absolutely no reason for us to be kept in the hospital, the baby was fine and needed to go home. The case worker seemed really confused as to why she had been called if it was such a no brainer, but apparently any time you leave with a child AMA they automatically call a case worker.
Side note-in that (my third) pregnancy, I did do 2 GBS tests at the end. I tried to change my status from (+) to (-) by upping vitamin C and taking garlic, but not diligently. I still tested positive at the second test.
In my 4th pregnancy, midwife still wasn't an option, my doctor I loved had moved to another state, and so I was back at square one with a new OB. Upon discussing GBS with him, he said he only uses the last test (at around 36 wks) to determine status upon delivery. This time I wanted to make sure if at all possible that the test wouldn't be positive, I didn't want to deal with the antibiotic and having to stay for blood testing. A doula friend of mine who is training to be a midwife (and former Bradley teacher) gave me a protocol used by midwives for eliminating GBS in the body. I did it diligently for 4 weeks prior to the test. I'm happy to share it, it included taking lots of garlic, vitamin C, and echinacea. The morning of my appointment, I bathed with Hibiclens. My swab came back negative, and I plan on repeating the regimen this time. Just a heads up, they can swab your vagina AND your anus when they test, so no wonder so many positives come up, because it generally colonizes the digestive tract.
My advice would be to try to eliminate it from your body with whatever regimen you are comfortable with prior to the test, and I think bathing in hibiclens helped. Having a known negative test eliminates so much later stress if you have to transfer. I'm hoping to homebirth this time (finally have a midwife in our area, and she's awesome-wooooooohooooooo!)