Have you ever heard of Group B Streptococcus (Group B Strep or GBS)? Whilst I had briefly seen it mentioned in a magazine once during my first pregnancy, I didn't really know much about it. I've never been told about it by my midwives or consultants, yet up to 1 in 4 of all pregnant women are carriers of Group B Strep.
The Group B Strep bacterium can be passed from mother to baby via the birth canal during labour and it can have very serious consequences. One in five newborn babies who are infected with it suffer with life-changing illnesses like meningitis, septicaemia or pneumonia, and these can have life-long effects like brain damage, hearing loss and sight loss. Sadly one in ten babies with the infection die from it. In the UK, 70 babies a year die from Group B Strep.
Reading those statistics shocked me, yet talking to my wonderful Facebook group of pregnant mummies, not many of us knew anything about Group B Strep. The only way of knowing if a pregnant woman is carrying the bacterium is with a laboratory test and if it is detected antibiotics can be given during labour to protect the baby. But this isn't something that is routinely tested for here in the UK, which I imagine is because our beloved NHS is just so stretched. And because it's not even mentioned by our caregivers I had never realised how serious it is or known that I could choose to test for GBS privately.
Strepelle is a highly-accurate yet simple home-to-laborotary test that can be used from 35 weeks of pregnancy onwards to check for the Group B Strep bacterium. It was created in partnership with midwives and has the potential to save babies' lives by detecting the bacterium so that mums can receive the treatment they need.
I recently tested for Group B Strep using a Strepelle 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, letter, or all three if you want. The kit is very simple to use; you follow the instructions to take a vaginal swab and then a rectal swab, pop the swabs in the special tubes, put them in the pre-paid envelope along with your form and post it back. Then, you just wait.
I posted my swabs on 9th March and I received a text and an email on 16th March, so my results took five working days which isn't a long wait. Although it felt much longer, as after reading all of the information about Group B Strep I had made myself a little worried! My results came back as negative, meaning I won't need to have any antibiotics during labour. If the results had been positive, I would have received a letter to take to my GP.
The cost of the Strepelle testing kit is £39.99 and can be ordered here. Strepelle sent me one of their tests so that I could try it, share the experience with you, and help raise awareness, but I would gladly pay the money to buy one if I were to ever have another baby. It's a simple test that could make all the difference and that, to me, is priceless.