When it comes to Miss L’s birthday I’m always a little melancholy. I love celebrating her birthday and seeing her joy, but I also get horrific flashbacks to giving birth to her and the aftermath. I probably should get some help, but it always feels to me like I’m being bit of a drama queen about it, stiff upper lip and all that.
So I’m hoping that writing about it his year will make it go away a bit? So forgive me for whittering on, this will be a long post. I’ll fast forward through the labour 27 hours, 2 bottles of gas and air, 3 epidural’s, an emergency c-section and a bleed out and onto the worst bit.
My beautiful little girl was infected with a Group B Strep infection.
She wasn’t feeding that well and was making a weird snorting noise, to be honest being a first time mum I was more than a little clueless. I’d seen a baby once from a distance, but that was about the extent of my experience. I mentioned it to the nursing staff but they said it was ok, newborns feeding badly isn’t exactly unusual so I left it. However by the time she was 30 hours old I needed some sleep, I’d been awake for 3 days at that point and close to utter collapse. Thanks goodness I did, they took her from me and for the first time noticed something was wrong when they tried to feed her and she was rushed to the Special Care Baby Unit.
I’m forever thankful that as I’d had the labour from hell and was still in the hospital, if we’d gone home I think she’d have died because it was such a quick decline. It turns out that if you have your waters broken and then are left in labour for over 24 hours, the baby can contract it. The other way to get it is if you are a carrier as one in four women are and there is a test for it, but under the NHS it’s a bit hit or miss if you get it. Ironically I’d actually had the test and tested negative the midwife told me later!
However I didn’t have a clue what Group B Strep was when I was woken in the middle of the night, by a doctor telling me that my baby needed a spinal tap as she had Group B and possibly meningitis, and did I have anyone who could be with me ‘in case of the worst’. By the time I arrived in Special Care Unit (as quickly as I could shuffle down the corridor) I was welcomed by a really lovely nurse who sat me down and gave me a Polaroid picture of my daughter wired up to every conceivable piece of medical equipment. When I asked why she explained they took pictures to give the mother something to ‘remember their child by’….at this point it sank in, my baby was probably going to die. We’d already lost one baby through miscarriage and I refused to lose another who’d been perfectly healthy at birth and had caught an infection, you can imagine how I felt when I found out it was from me.
Thank God she’s a great little fighter, and she had excellent care by a very experienced group of medics and she pulled through to be the sassy little bright button she is today. But it was needless, it shouldn’t have happened. In the UK 700 babies are affected a year of whom 75 don’t make it and about 40 have serious long term problems such as blindness, deafness, brain damage and long term learning difficulties. In the US that goes up to 8,000 babies a year and nearly 400 die. I think that this is totally unacceptable, and that women should be educated about the dangers. It wasn’t in any of the pre-birth courses I did and not really mentioned in any pregnancy magazines.
Here are some resources, please, please tell your pregnant friends I’d hate for anyone to go through what we did.
For more information go to
Sign the Petition on the Number 10 website (closes 11th March) asking for pregnant women to be screened
International Readers – Group B site
We were lucky, but I realise it was more down to chance and still being in the hospital than anything else, it could have all ended differently and every day I’m thankful it wasn’t.
Thanks for listening, I’m feeling a bit better for getting it out of my system x