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Group B Strep (GBS) and Homebirth

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

Group B Strep (GBS)

25% of women are thought to carry GBS.

The incidence of early onset GBS (less than 7 days old) is 0.5/1000 births (1:2000)

Advice is often to offer all women known to carry GBS prophylactic antibiotics in labour.

Use of the acronym B.R.A.I.N can help with decision making on many issues affecting your pregnancy:=20

B     Benefits

R     Risks

A     Alternatives

I       Intuition

N     Nothing




Some women with GBS infection choose to only have antibiotics if they also have one of the clinical factors noted below. This results in 15% of women who know they carry the GBS bacteria having antibiotics and reduces the incidence of GBS by 51%. 1

The risk of passing GBS infection to your baby is increased if you have any of the following clinical factors. Having more than one clinical risk factor is thought to increase the risk of transmission. The need to treat (NTT) with antibiotics rate to prevent one case of GBS infection in one baby is given in brackets, where available.

1.   Previous baby infected with GBS

2.   GBS found in your urine as this increases the chance of your baby becoming infected to around 8%. If you have not had your urine tested please ask your midwife to do so.

3.   Premature labour less than 35 week (NTT 357 women to prevent one baby having GBS infection1)

4.   premature labour, between 35-37 weeks (NTT 500 women to prevent one baby having GBS infection1)

5.   baby's waters have gone for more than 18 hours before the birth (NTT 595 women to prevent one baby having GBS infection1)

6.   raised temperature in labour (NTT 208 women in labour to prevent one baby having GBS infection1)

Having your baby at home means you cannot have antibiotics in labour but in low risk women has the following advantages2:

1.   reduced incidence of medical interventions

2.   reduced incidence of low apgar scores

3.   reduced newborn breathing problems

4.   reduced birth trauma for babies


What is your gut feeling? What do you think is best for you and your baby? Where do you think is the best place for you to labour? Only the pregnant mum can answer these questions.


There may not be a period of four hours recommended from some risk factors appearing (eg a temperature in labour), administering antibiotics and the birth of your baby. For a pregnancy with no additional risk factors for GBS you could have your baby at home or in hospital with no antibiotics in labour accepting that it is thought you need to give antibiotics to at least 70001 GBS carrying women to prevent one baby from dying from GBS.

References obtained from:

1. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist (2003) 'Prevention of Early onset Neonatal Group B Streptococcal Disease' Guideline number 36.

2. Enkin et al (2000) 'A guide to effective care in pregnancy and childbirth' Oxford University Press

This Web page is referenced from another page containing related information about Group B Strep (GBS) aka Beta Strep


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