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What is Group B Strep (GBS)?

Group B Strep is a bacteria commonly found in the vagina and rectum of healthy women. About 1 in 4 women in the U.S. carry GBS. This type of bacteria can come and go naturally in the body.

What does it mean if I test positive for GBS?

If you test positive for GBS, you do not have an infection.  Testing positive simply means that GBS lives in your body. GBS does not spread through sex, food, water, or contact with people or objects. Although GBS is not dangerous to you personally, you can pass GBS to your baby during birth. It is important to get tested and treat GBS.

Why do I need to get tested for GBS?

If you test positive for GBS, you can pass the bacteria to your baby during birth. Although GBS is not dangerous to you, GBS can cause severe illness and even death if the bacteria is passed to your baby. All pregnant women should get tested for GBS when they are 35-37 weeks pregnant. You need to get tested for GBS each time you are pregnant, because GBS can come and go naturally in the body.

How do I get tested for GBS?

If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about getting tested for GBS. They will test for Group B Strep by swabbing the vagina and rectum.  The test is usually painless. There are no risks to you or your baby by being tested for GBS.

What happens if I test positive for GBS?

If you test positive for GBS, your doctor will give you an antibiotic, usually Penicillin, through an IV during childbirth, which can help the bacteria from spreading to your baby. If you are allergic to Penicillin, other antibiotics are available to help treat you. If you are having a C-section or believe you may give birth early, talk to your doctor to make a GBS-prevention plan.

What should I do when my water breaks?

If you did not test positive for GBS, you do not need to do anything more. If you did test positive for GBS:

  • Tell the hospital staff that you tested positive for GBS.
  • Tell the hospital staff if you are allergic to Penicillin.
  • Expect to get an IV with preventative antibiotics.

If you did not get tested for GBS by the time labor starts, tell the hospital staff that you do not know your GBS status.

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