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There are very legitimate needs for pharmaceutical antibiotics. Severe bacterial infections can be dangerous if left untreated, even deadly. This post is not to discredit the need for antibiotics at all.
But let’s face it – they suck to take. I use antibiotics as an absolute last resort because they make me so sick. Headaches, digestive issues, the works. Antibiotics definitely “kick you while you’re down,” as my husband likes to say. Not only this, but antibiotics have a slue of other negative side effects and possible adverse reactions ranging from short term to long term. If I can avoid taking them safely, I will, especially when the need for them is mild to non-existent.
What is GBS?
With my first baby, I was not really given a clear explanation on what GBS is, other than it was common in pregnancy and nothing to worry about. Which begged the question: if it was nothing to worry about why would I need antibiotics for it if I tested positive? (Which I did test positive for it, and the antibiotics did indeed make me sick… during labor.)
Group B Streptococcus, or GBS, is a strain of bacteria that women can develop during pregnancy in their rectum and/or vagina. As your belly inflates and your downstairs opens up, it becomes more difficult to properly clean after using the potty. This can cultivate bacteria, including GBS in women who are carriers. Most women who have GBS do not know it as there can be no symptoms.
Why is it considered dangerous?
If a baby is born premature or with a compromised immune system, exposure to GBS could lead to severe infection and even death. In rare cases GBS can get into a baby’s blood stream and cause sepsis. It can also cause meningitis or pneumonia.
Other than a premature birth or an uncommonly weak immune system, GBS poses virtually no threat to a baby who is properly cleaned after birth (I mean getting all the nasty stuff off, but leaving the vernix). If a healthy baby does develop GBS it can be treated quickly and efficiently.
I am not sure about the specific rules across country, but in the state I live in I would not be allowed to give birth at home with my midwife if I tested positive for GBS yet refused antibiotics. Many hospitals will tell you antibiotics are mandatory if you have tested positive while strongly encouraging the antibiotics if you go into premature labor regardless of your GBS status. This seems a little foolish, as the dangers of penicillin, the most commonly used drug for GBS, are very real and more likely to occur than those that could be caused by GBS.
Why would I want to cheat the GBS test?
Okay, so GBS can be pretty serious for babies with rare circumstances. My top priority when pregnant, as I am sure yours is too, is to have a healthy baby. So why would I want to cheat the results?
- GBS is not tested for until well into the third trimester when the mother is almost full term or later. If she had a baby premature, chances are she would not have the GBS test done in time to find out if it posed a threat to her child. Since GBS poses no threat to a healthy, on-time baby, there is very little need for the GBS testing when it is done.
- Just because a woman tests positive for GBS does not mean she will still have GBS at the time of her birth. Likewise, just because she tests negative for it doesn’t mean at the time of birth she will not have GBS. The culture swab is not even always accurate at the time it is given.
- Pharmaceutical antibiotics should only be used in extreme necessary conditions as they have several harmful short term and long term possible side effects and reactions. If the test for GBS is useless as my condition could change by the time of birth, and the chances of my baby actually being affected by GBS are slim to none, why would I put both myself and my baby (the antibiotics are administered during labor) in harms way from the much more likely negative effects of the drugs?
So how can you cheat the test?
This bacteria is cultivated when waste particles stay on your privates, so it can easily be cured through cleansing and proper cleaning. My midwife recommended using Hibiclens
, which worked like a charm. Hibiclens is a heavy-duty antibacterial soap commonly used in hospitals. Using Hibiclens to treat and prevent GBS is a common practice in Europe.
Because it is very potent, you do NOT want to put this directly on your lady parts.
- Using a peri bottle filled mostly with water, squirt a little Hibiclens in to turn the water a light pink, then shake and squirt. I would say no more than half an ounce of Hibiclens for every seven and a half ounces of water.
- Make sure you get both your vaginal area and your rectum.
- Rinse off with water (I just used the now-empty peri bottle and water from the sink).
I did this a couple of times right before I went in to take my test (it is easiest to remember with the Hibiclens and peri bottle within reach from the toilet seat). If you are really worried about the test, you can do this every time you use the restroom the day before and the day of your test. I wouldn’t recommend doing it any more than that though, as this antibacterial soap is incredibly powerful and can irritate the skin.
I suppose this doesn’t really count as ‘cheating’ the test, since you are actually cleansing your body of any possible GBS rather than just hiding it, but I like pretending I am a rebel. If you are still worried about GBS at the time of your birth, I would recommend doing a quick cleanse during the first signs of contractions.
Do you have a different way to cleanse GBS, or any thoughts on this article? Be sure to comment and thank you for reading!
Some extra sources:
Dekker, Rebecca. “Evidence on Group B Strep in Pregnancy.” Evidence Based Birth, 15 Jan. 2018.
“What Are the Risks of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Infection during Pregnancy?” NHS Choices, National Heath Services UK, 12 July 2015.