Around this time, your spouse’s obstetrician will require her to take a group B streptococcus test. Group B streptococcus (GBS) is the name of a bacteria generally found inside the vaginal or rectal areas. Though harmless to adults, the bacteria can cause a serious, though rare, infection in a newborn baby.
If the mother tests positive for GBS, it means that she carries the bacteria. In such an event:
- Her doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics for her to take during the pregnancy. However, these are not always enough to prevent an infection in the newborn baby. Nevertheless, they will treat any urinary tract infection caused by the GBS.
- Her obstetrician will start her on intravenous antibiotics as soon as her labor starts, or once her water breaks, if that happens first.
- It is important that the intravenous antibiotics be given at least four hours before delivery. However, this may not be possible if labor progresses rapidly. If your spouse was started on the intravenous antibiotics less than four hours before delivery, the doctor will monitor your newborn baby for possible signs of an infection up to at least 48 hours following birth. However, the risk of GBS infection in babies is usually very low; so do not worry.