Have you heard of Strep B? It is not something I had ever heard of and I hadn’t been told anything about it by my midwife or doctors during my pregnancy either.
What is Group B Strep?
Group B Strep is a common, natural bacteria carried by around 1 in 4 women, usually unknowingly and without any symptoms. It can also come and go rather than being present all the time, and can be passed to your baby during the birth. The consequences of contracting an infection can be quite serious; one in ten babies will die from this infection, and one in five babies infected will develop serious illnesses such as meningitis, septicaemia, or pneumonia. However, rest assured it can be easily tested for during late pregnancy and if a positive result is found, antibiotics can be administered during labour to treat any potential infection. It’s something which is entirely treatable, and a test that other European countries test for as routine during pregnancy, however in the UK the NHS do not currently offer antenatal testing for Group B Strep as standard. I do feel this should change.
Doing the test at home
A few weeks back I tested for Group B Strep using a Strepelle home testing kit. The kit contains two swabs, instructions and a pre-paid envelope, and once received by the lab results are sent back as quickly as three working days by text, email, post, or all three if you choose that option. The kit is very simple to use; you just follow the instructions to take a vaginal swab and then a rectal swab, pop the swabs in the special tubes provided, put them in the pre-paid envelope along with your form, but keeping the top part for your reference and post it back. Then, you just have to wait.
The test only cost £39.99 and can be purchased from their website but it is a small price to pay either for reassurance or to get the treatment that might save your baby’s life. I was just over 37 weeks pregnant when I took the test, but you can take it from 35 weeks. I am glad that I have and would advise others to do the same.
You are advised to send the samples back off between Monday-Thursday, to prevent the samples sitting in the postal system over the weekend as this may make your result inconclusive if left too long. I sent mine off on a Monday 19th June.
I have to admit that I was getting a bit anxious about my result when I’d still not heard anything by the Friday so I just dropped the women an email, but then first thing on the Monday Morning I received and email and on the Tuesday morning I received a text message with my result. I was really pleased to say that my result was negative, which means that I will be fine to deliver in the hospital as planned. But had my result come back positive, I’d still have been relieved to have found that out, so that I could get the treatment to prevent passing the infection to my baby. It’s such a small price to pay for a test that might make all the difference.
* I was sent this test for the purpose of this review. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.