Tag Archives: group b strep

37 Weeks and getting the PMA back.

I’ve been feeling kind of like an asshole. You see in every pregnancy I’ve had to fight for the birth that i wanted. I’m not naturally a bolshy person, not by any means at all. I’m more the type to silently fume about something or to get upset or to feel like I’m just causing a fuss, but I had such a poor experience with my first birth which I truly believe contributed to the severe postnatal depression that I suffered after. It’s taken a long, long time to heal those wounds (and the scars are still there) and I’m admittedly scared of it happening again. So i start off from a frightened and defensive position.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised, nay shocked, to see the apparent sea-change in attitudes that has come about in maternity services in the last few years. I got the GBS result and I assumed, based on previous experiences, that I was going to be told I HAD to go to labour ward and that I would HAVE to have my labour augmented and HAVE to undergo continuous monitoring as standard. I expected to encounter unhelpful, patronising, scornful and paternalistic attitudes because I have before (it’s very important to note that it hadn’t been my experience with every HCP I encountered in pregnancy, but it did make up a fair proportion and naturally sticks out in my mind as the most upsetting experiences). I was very shocked when the community midwife called me and suggested that I meet again with my consultant to discuss my options. That threw me, i have options??? So I agreed and went long to meet with the consultant.

Wow. Mind blown.

She went through the stats on group b strep, on how low the incidence is, on how low the actual risk is, though it is important to note that for the tiny, tiny proportion of infants who do become infected with it, it’s a very serious disease. She said she actually regretted ordering the swab in the first place, as since little A hadn’t suffered from an actual GBS infection there was no indication to swab me, but she had and we had got back the result that we don’t and unfortunately she couldn’t pretend like she wasn’t aware of that piece of information. My choices were, i could go to the labour ward (with GBS status alone is not an indication for continuous monitoring!) written in very large letters across my notes and the thorough endorsement of Dr X to invoke her name in turning down any intervention that I wasn’t comfortable with, or I could have my home birth but the midwives hands are tied by Trust policy so I wouldn’t be able to receive antibiotics.

I thought long and hard about it. The only reason I received antibiotics within the four hour time frame with little A was because my waters broke before contractions started. If it had been based solely on the amount of time I was actually in labour (1hr and 50 mins) I wouldn’t have gotten them. Squishy’s labour was even shorter at 50 minutes. What are the chances that I’d even get them on time? I may well be barely through the door of the place before I’m delivering (and it’s a looooooong walk from the carpark to the maternity ward). So we decided to go ahead and book the home birth, at least that way my options stayed open with regards to changing my mind and going to hospital if I felt at the time that was the right thing to do.

I called the midwives on Friday morning to inform them of our decision and I think they freaked out a little, as suddenly I was offered the use of the midwifery led unit (with birth pools!!!!) that I had been categorically told was a NO the day before. The MLU is a very, very happy compromise for me, it’s none of the medicalisation of the labour ward but I’d get the antibiotics. I was pleased to accept, i just want it in writing because I’m paranoid of arriving at the hospital and them claiming not to have heard of me and admitting me to the MLU is against protocol etc etc etc. That makes me feel like kind of a suspicious asshole but i’ve been burnt before, and then I feel bad about all my ranting and wailing about how awful they all are because they have been so supportive, respectful and accommodating when all I was expecting was a massive argument and a struggle against a power trip.

I suppose we shall see how it all pans out, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

In other news I appear to be gestating Godzilla. I had a scan on Thursday and Dr X is estimating baby’s weight at 8lbs 3oz already. OMG that’s bigger than Squishy (my biggest by far) was at practically term. I think I may have to take the gorgeous little newborn sized onesies out of my bag and repack it with something in the 0-3 month range. Baby Loki does feel long (well he is a frost giant), as I am frequently simultaneously headbutted in the cervix and kicked in the ribs. I’m terrified of what size he will be, and I know it’s all my fault for eating far too many buns.

I am so ready to give birth now. I went to Ikea with my sister yesterday to get the last few bits and pieces that we need. I sort of hoped long drive plus long walk might equal some baby action but all it left me with were a lot of Braxton Hicks and crippling new levels of SPD pain. My poor sister also suffers horrendously from endometriosis, so by the time we were in the Ikea warehouse we were both hobbling and groaning like some kind person should really come along and put us both out of our misery. On the plus side though I got a baby bath for a bargainous £6. I also got a new cot mattress for when we get around to re-rigging the co-sleeper. I’m just waiting on the new car seat I ordered to arrive and the replacement axle for our iCandy pram and we should be good to go more or less, though I’d quite happily go right now while I’m definitely in the less camp because oh my god the last weeks of pregnancy are beyond tedious and uncomfortable. I just want to have a working pelvis back. Chronic pain is zero fun. i know that i am incredibly lucky that i will escape this chronic pain within a few weeks, i’m just impatient for it to happen.

Generally though i’m feeling much more positive, if not very impatient.


My sister just called me with the results of the second swab, oh irony of ironies, it’s actually come back worse than the first one. Now we have heavy growth. I had a few days there of fantasising about my options, thinking that I actually had some and it’s all just been ripped away from me. I’m just sitting here in tears at the thought that I have to go back to that horrible labour ward.

I am absolutely gutted.

In which we discover you can’t buy a douche in this town….

Yesterday was a pretty busy day. I was running about picking the kids up from school (they all helpfully have different finishing times), doing an emergency “mum! my reservoir of insulin is running low I need more!” run, picking the husband up from work, taking my sister in law to hospital etc. I was exhausted when I finally got back to the house, only to discover there was a midwife sitting waiting for me. It turns out that they had the wrong due date written down for me (they thought it was the 5th) and they hadn’t got the results of the GBS swab so didn’t know if we were go for a home birth or not (and based on the wrong date they had they’d need to have everything in place by tomorrow).

So… we discussed options a little. I told her about the result of the swab and that I had been waiting to see my GP before I went back to them. I wanted to see if she (my GP) would agree in principle to prescribing the antibiotics if I was to labour to home, apparently this will only work if she’ll willing to administer them as well as the midwives aren’t allowed to. Well that’s not going to happen, my GP is lovely and accommodating, but she’s also award winning and exceptionally busy. Who knows what time of the day or night my labour could start? I’m not even willing to put her in the awkward position of having to say no to me and it’s just unfair. The next option we discussed was retaking the swab, since technically I was swabbed early at 34 weeks instead of 36. Well they seem open to that and they’d like me to come in on Friday morning for a repeat swab.

This has opened a window of opportunity for me (I didn’t discuss this bit with the midwife). I could theoretically try a chlorhexidine (hibiscrub/hibicleanse) rinse before the swab. This could result in a negative result freeing me up for a home birth that I so desperately want.

Update – so I went this morning to see the midwife and get the repeat swab done. In the end I did decide to try the hibiscrub regime, so last night and this morning I douched with 4 fl oz a mixture of 2 tbsps of 4% hibiscrub to 20fl oz of cooled boiled water. I will find out the result of the swab on Monday or Tuesday. I have really agonised about this decision, it’s probably not something I would have went for if I’d had GBS present in my urine or if the initial swab had shown anything more than scanty growth. I guess to be on the safe side I should probably douche again with the hibiscrub when labour begins, though that opens up a whole other can of worms about disrupting the normal flora of the vaginal canal and potentially depriving the baby of a once in a lifetime opportunity to be seeded with a good micobiome and opening us both up to yeast infections. I intend to go buy a good probiotic later. I’m sure there are people out there who will disagree with my decision but I am taking this very seriously and will happily go for antibiotics if there are any developments to suggest that I need them.

On a side note it was impossible to find either a douche, a large bulb syringe or even an enema kit that would do the job in this town. I had multiple embarrassing experiences yesterday going into pharmacies and asking for them. Then I thought…. well maybe I’ll try a turkey baster. I couldn’t even find one of those! What I ended up getting was this

silicone easy squeezeIt’s a silicone easy squeeze icing pen, you know… for decorating cakes, not for squirting chlorhexidine up your lady parts… but needs must and all that. It did the job (after a trip in the microwave steriliser). Let me reassure you right now that this piece of equipment will never go near a cake.



35 weeks and group b strep

So I have found out I have group b strep again. I’m pretty devastated to be honest because I cannot imagine any scenario going forth where I won’t have to fight and stand my ground in the face of immense pressure/resistance from HCPs.

When I went into hospital to have little A, I genuinely went with an open mind. I thought things must have moved on in the last ten years, it doesn’t have to be some horribly medicalised birth where they will strip me of my autonomy and treat me only from the neck down. I was wrong, the minute I stepped through that door they were insisting on continuous monitoring, refusing to believe me when I told them I was contracting (because as it turns out their machine was broken, and why would you ever listen to a person over a machine?) And they were putting me under immense pressure to get on a synto drip to speed things up. I had a literal succession of doctors and midwives parade through the room for two hours to tell me how wrong I was, and how I was putting my baby at risk and that I needed to make a decision now. Let me tell you, it had NOTHING to do with what was right or best for me and my baby. It had everything to do with the fact the wards were bursting at the seams and they wanted to get me through as quickly as possible. I have zero faith in the staff on that ward. I don’t expect them to be honest with me and I don’t expect them to respect me. What I do expect is a patronising, paternalistic attitude and an argument.

So what are my options?

Well… what they will tell me is my only option is to go to hospital at the onset of labour to get IV antibiotics. This will involve continuous monitoring (so restricted movement) and if my waters break before contractions begin they will push me to have my labour augmented. After the birth they will require the two of us to stay in hospital for 24 hours for monitoring, and if I happen to give birth at night they will chuck the husband out as soon as they want to move me to the postnatal ward. Sounds f**king horrid right? If I don’t want to submit to all of this I will need to fight them over it, and split my attention and energies at  time when I really should be focusing at the task in hand. 

Alternatively I can go in there and tell them I intend to have a home birth regardless, they will no doubt tell me that I can’t, that they can’t provide antibiotics at home, that no one will be wiling to cover it, that there are staff shortages etc. I can argue with them about it, I can start a letter writing campaign right now, contact the Supervisor of Midwives, the director of women and children’s services for the trust, my local MLA etc. 

I absolutely resent that in my first birth when I meekly went along with everything they told me that I must, I ended up genuinely feeling like I had been sexually assaulted, totally disempowered and humiliated and I honestly believe this contributed to the severe postnatal depression I experienced afterwards. In each subsequent birth I have literally had to fight to get the births that I wanted and to keep my sense of personal autonomy intact. It is utter bullshit that it has had to be this way. I have never felt supported or respected for my right to exercise decisions over my own body. I feel completely sick at the thought of having to speak to another midwife, never mind submit to their way of doing things. 

I couldn’t sleep last night because it just kept tumbling over in my mind the stress and the arguments that are to come. I don’t want to fight anymore, but I’m too damn stubborn to just give up and let them take my birth from me. 

This isn’t about me putting the birth experience before the baby. I’m okay with taking the antibiotics, despite the latest Cochrane review concluding that prophylactic antibiotic treatment of GBS is not evidence based and does not have a statistically significant effect on outcomes. I am okay with intermittent monitoring. I’m okay with most things if there is a medical need for them. What I am not okay with it is doing things a certain way because “that’s how it’s done” or because it suits the institution rather than it having the least bit of connection to what is best for me or my baby. 

Of course the other option is to disengage from services completely, which I’ll admit I am very tempted to do. I’ve already cancelled the midwife appointment I had booked for next week, in theory it is to give me time to think, but I’m not sure I can bring myself to book it again and put myself through this level of stress. Is it really too much to ask for to have the last month of pregnancy not to be a stressy mess? 

I really don’t know what to do, but I’m heartbroken to be sat here having to contemplate all of this. 

All Booked In

I had my booking appointment this morning. It was all the usual stuff – medical history, height, weight (their scales weighed me 4lbs later than my scales at home, yay! I like their scales), blood pressure, urine test (trace of ketones, boo) and blood tests. I had a very nice student midwife who is weeks away from qualifying. She told me she’s the oldest child of 9 and loves it when mums come in who have large families like mine. It is really lovely to see the progress being made in maternity care, for one thing they immediately gave me the number for contacting the Supervisor of Midwives should I have any problems. I remember in a previous pregnancy having to argue to get the number (though it was completely my right to have it and speak to her). They’ve provisionally booked me for a home delivery so let’s hope that baby plays ball this time and we have no issues with him staying breech. I also hope that Group B Strep doesn’t rear it’s ugly head again. They said they will do a vaginal swab at 36 weeks to check for it. I’m going to spend the next 26 weeks fervently crossing my fingers for the all clear. I would dearly love to finish my pregnancy journey at home as the boy and the Squishy one’s births were such lovely positive experiences. All that remains now is to await my appointment in the post for my official dating scan.

I took a big step today and asked about Down Syndrome screening. As it stands in Northern Ireland you are only offered the screening tests if you are above 35. In other parts of the UK, woman are routinely offered the triple blood test and a nuchal translucency scan at 13 weeks. At 32 (almost 33) I suppose I am probably still fairly low risk but a friend of mine (who is the same age as me) living in England recently had the NT scan and triple test and came back as high risk. She’s since gone on to privately have a Nifty test (it’s a blood test that tests circulating fetal DNA in the maternal bloodstream) and is waiting for her results. I suppose it is all playing on my mind now, especially as I have such a large family already and I find handling the eldest’s additional needs with her diabetes to be quite straining at times. I’ve been told I can ask at the dating scan about the triple test, but I don’t know if they will consent to that or perform a NT scan and my understanding is that the two are best looked at together. Our other option is to go privately for it at a cost of around £200. All of this could potentially open another can of worms as it seems like the available of Harmony or Nifty tests are very limited in Ireland (and cost around £600) so the only other option is amniocentesis or CVS, both of which carry a high miscarriage risk. There is every possibility that you could get a high risk result on an NT scan/triple test and everything could be fine. It’s hard weighing up what is the best thing to do, and it’s a very uncomfortable conversation to have probably because it’s still such an alien concept to screen for it in this neck of the woods. I have a little time yet to make the decision though.

One thing I need to start doing now is taking bump pictures, though I’m starting out about 15lbs heavier than I was in my last pregnancy and my stomach/bump is waaay bigger. I’ve been forced into some maternity clothes too which definitely accentuates things. Finally, I am pleased to report that the cyclizine is definitely helping. I feel horribly nauseous for about an hour in between doses but generally it’s taking the edge off and helping me to feel much more human. I’ll start experimenting soon with seeing if I can live without it as hopefully things will calm down as I head into the second trimester.

We did it!

I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling quite emotional. My hips were aching, I’d been contracting on and off and I felt thoroughly fed up. I decided to ring the midwives and ask if they would consider doing a stretch and sweep, only to be told they wouldn’t consider it before 40 weeks (I’d been told 39 the week before). I hung up the phone and burst into tears before finally pulling myself together and deciding that I needed to get out of the house for a while. I rang my friend’s hair salon and made an appointment to go in and get a long over-due chop and to get my crazy eyebrows tamed at the first time. Good timing too because when I got home I started to have contractions again. I kept an eye on them for a few hours, but they were still fairly irregular. When I had an hour of them coming five minutes apart I decided to ring Fetal Assessment to get checked out. The husband and I headed up and the minute I set foot inside the place everything stopped, the midwife examined me and the conclusion was I had a UTI so all I could do was go home.

On Wednesday, the husband and I went for dinner as I was figuring it could be our last chance to do something before we became a family of six.

I felt very niggly that evening and certain that something was going to happen. I woke up several times in the night convinced my water had broken was about to break just to discover that, no, of course it hadn’t.

On Thursday morning I looked around my bare kitchen (I hadn’t managed to go grocery shopping the previous weekend so we were running on the dregs). I decided what I needed to do was a big shop and lots of batch cooking so the family would be well taken care of when I did eventually go into labour. I text my brother at about 2.30 to ask him if he could watch the little ones while I went to Tesco and I was sitting on the sofa waiting for his reply when I felt an almighty pop and a gush.

I’d been told to go to hospital straight away if my waters broke because of the GBS so I rang the husband to tell him he needed to come home from work. I started to panic a bit because I’d gotten behind on the laundry and the only trousers I had that were dry were the ones I was wearing when my waters went! The Squishy one was following me around while I was making phone calls and heard me telling the husband that my waters had broke and I was going to phone my mum, she looked at me all earnestly and asked “are you going to phone Granny so she can fix your waters?”

My waters have always gone in labour before so I couldn’t believe how much there was! I left a trail from the kitchen, all down the hall and a huge puddle in the bathroom (Squishy at this point was following me with a mop!)

Once the husband and my mum got home, I managed to find a dry pair of leggings. I put on three pads to try and contain the never-ending fluid, and we headed up to fetal assessment. They examined me and said I was about 4cm. Contractions hadn’t started yet so they wanted to take me to the labour ward and start me on the drip. I was just gobsmacked, everything I had read had led me to believe I could have a totally normal labour with the gbs, the only difference was I would need the antibiotics but now they wanted to stick me on the ctg for constant monitoring and were pushing for me to take syntocinon. I started to panic a bit, I had such a bad experience getting induced with my first, that drip is a hateful invention and I could just see the situation spiralling out of control. I said to them I wanted the chance for contractions to start on their own, and for the next two hours I had a parade of doctors and midwives coming in telling me how I was putting the baby at risk and it would probably turn transverse if I didn’t start the drip and I needed to make a decision right now. They also left a student midwife in the room constantly so I could get bugger all privacy to discuss the options with the husband or my mum. I finally started to have contractions on my own but the machine wasn’t really picking them up so the midwife was very dismissive that anything was happening at all, it probably took her an hour to believe me.  They moved me to a different room and at that point they started to accept that I had gone into labour on my own and stopped hassling me about the drip. Being on the ctg was a total pain in the arse though, my movement was restricted and they kept shifting me around to pick up the heartbeat, in the end the put a clip on the baby’s scalp. When the contractions did start they came thick and fast and I was holding on to the gas and air for dear life. I was sitting on the ball, holding the tubing and I found it really helpful at the height of a contraction to lift my head up. The entonox made me a little giggly, I got this image in my head that I must have looked and sounded like a trumpeting elephant every time I lifted my head up into the air.

It didn’t seem like long before I started to shake and I said to the husband “I think I’m in transition”, then I totally lost it. I had been kneeling over the back of the bed but suddenly I flipped myself over (apparently I almost fell out of the bed, it was just the judicious pressing of the husband’s knee into the small of my back that stopped me hitting the floor). It took about two pushes that I had no control over and she was born with me letting out an almighty roar. I was just shaking repeating thank god that’s over thank god that’s over. I got the major shakes again and it took me about 20 minutes to calm down and stop shaking and gibbering.

Arya Beibhinn made her debut appearance at 9.20 pm on the 28th of June, weighing 7lbs exactly, after a recorded labour of 1hr 45 mins. She started feeding straight away and it seemed like not long passed before they moved me to the postnatal ward and chucked the husband out. I didn’t sleep a wink on Thursday night even though Arya slept well, but I was just too wired and it was too noisy.

We are home now and settling in nicely. She’s a little bit jaundiced so we are having some issues with her being quite sleepy and difficult to feed, but I feel so blessed to have her here.

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The Good and The Bad

I have started to write this post a number of times and then deleted what I’ve written or just plain clicked off the tab in frustration.

Firstly, I suppose I should report that the ECV was successful. It wasn’t terribly painful and it didn’t take too long. I went home feeling quite positive, if a little spaced-out from the muscle relaxant. The husband and I were chatting about ways to start encouraging the baby out (before it decides to flip around again) when the phone rang. It was my GP with the very bad news that the swab they had taken in the hospital last week had come back positive for group b strep.

Goodbye home birth.

Goodbye birth in the midwife led unit.

Goodbye water birth.

Goodbye staying at home for as long as possible.

Goodbye six hour discharge.

Goodbye to the possibility of getting a membrane sweep to help moves things along.

Goodbye any modicum of control I had over this process.

I am absolutely gutted. I can just see this birth turning into everything that I don’t want it to be. I’m tired from days and days of erratic pains. I’m frustrated, I’m fed up and I just want it over and done with. I had a midwife appointment today and I asked if she would do a sweep and she said no. I keep thinking the longer this goes on the longer I have to get worked and annoyed about it. The one hospital birth I had was awful, I don’t want to go there again. Plus I feel like I’m getting a whole heap of guilt piled on top of me because my mother has been present at all my previous births but the hospital has a 1 birth companion policy so I have to choose between her and my husband. I love my husband but I’m not sure how great he’s going to be at supporting me through this on his own, but I can’t deny him being there at the birth of his child.

I had a feeling from the start that I just wasn’t going to get a home birth but I didn’t anticipate it turning out this way.