How Do You Get Strep B During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women can get the streptococcus B (Strep B) bacterium, which can cause serious health problems for the mother and her unborn baby. It is one of the most common infections that can occur during pregnancy, with up to one in four pregnant women infected in the UK. Here’s what you need to know about Strep B and how to avoid it:
What is Strep B?
Strep B is a type of bacteria that is found in the vagina, rectum and skin around the genitals. It’s estimated that around a quarter of women carry it without knowing. In most cases, it doesn’t cause any problems, but if it gets into the uterus or bloodstream it can be dangerous for a baby before or during birth.
Symptoms of Strep B
It is possible to be infected with Strep B without showing any symptoms. However, if there are symptoms, they can include:
- Pain: Pain in the lower abdomen and back.
- Fever: A high temperature of over 38 degrees centigrade.
- Vaginal discharge: Thick or discoloured discharge.
- Urinary tract infection: Burning pain when urinating, needing to urinate more often, or cloudy, dark or smelly urine.
- Nausea and vomiting: Feeling or being sick.
Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms should see a doctor immediately.
Your midwife or doctor will take a swab test to detect the presence of Strep B. This is done in two parts: a swab from the vagina and rectum to detect the bacteria, and a swab from the birth canal to check for any signs of infection.
If you test positive for Strep B, your doctor may recommend a range of treatments depending on the severity of the infection and how far along you are in the pregnancy. These may include antibiotics during labour, a course of oral antibiotics and/or intravenous antibiotics.
The best way to prevent Strep B is to be aware of the risks and get tested as soon as possible if you show any symptoms. It is also important to practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.
- Avoid close contact with other people who may have an infection.
- Always wash your hands after going to the toilet, before preparing and eating food, or handling animals.
- Clean and disinfect any surfaces, toys and objects that may be contaminated with Strep B.
- Avoid douching or using perfumed products in the genital area during pregnancy.
- Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated to keep your immune system strong.
- If you’re experiencing any symptoms, see a doctor immediately.
Strep B is a common infection that can occur during pregnancy and can be dangerous for both the mother and the unborn baby. It’s important to be aware of the risks, practise good hygiene and seek medical advice if you experience any symptoms. By following these guidelines and getting tested as soon as possible, you can prevent any serious health problems related to Strep B.
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