We have thankfully been blessed in that we’ve been very lucky and not had any terrible illnesses such as cancer in our family. So my story is about Miss L’s birth, which I’ve blogged about before but it’s been a long time since I shared her story.
I had a horrible labour with her, it started in hospital as I was being checked out as I was a tiny bit over due. Labour started as 1 contraction every 3 minutes, we were all excited thinking we were all systems go because that’s what you’re told from the moment you start the ante-natal lessons. A very matter of fact midwife was called, checked my dilation and this what was now a classic conversation in our house:
Midwife: ‘Yes you’re contractions are every three minutes, but you’re 2cm dilated. Come back when you’re 6cm’
Me: ‘How will I know? I’ve not seen my feet for 3 months?’
Midwife: ‘Just come back later’
With that she swept out of the room and we were kicked out in tears, not knowing what to do.
Long story short, I phoned my Midwife from the car on the way home and she came out and spent 5 hours with us helping me labour at home, then she sent me back to give birth in the hospital – another 45 minute journey back still having a contraction every 3 minutes. 27 hours later my beautiful baby girl was born by emergency c-section.
I was exhausted, my body was in shock from the labour and emergency c-section so it wasn’t a surprise when she wasn’t feeding that well. But she was also 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 so I could rest and for the first time noticed something was wrong when they tried to feed her. She was rushed instantly to the Special Care Baby Unit, with a Group B Strep infection.
I’m forever thankful that as I’d had the labour from hell and an emergency c-section 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 Group B Strep even if the mother has tested negative for it – which I had.
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’. 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.
Thankfully she’s a great little fighter and survivor, and she had 10 days of 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. I showed signs of maternal temperature in labour, the length of labour and the fact my waters were broken I should have been given antibiotics in labour and then she wouldn’t have been infected.
To quote the GBSS Website:
“intravenous antibiotics (in the mother), during labour. When given from the start of labour or waters breaking (and ideally 4 hours before delivery), prophylaxis of this kind has proven to be very effective at preventing GBS infection in the baby. Sadly, waiting to give antibiotics to the baby after delivery will sometimes be too late.”
In the UK
1 in every 1,000 babies born in the UK. Each year, based on 700,000 babies born annually in the UK, approximately:
- 230,000 babies are born to mothers who carry GBS; 88,000 babies (1 in 8) become colonised with GBS; 700 babies develop GBS infections, usually within 24 hours of birth; and
- 75 babies (11% of infected babies) die.
I was hoping that nine years later, women are now being informed of the dangers and can be prepared/tested/aware of Group B Strep and there are more little survivors like my girl but it seems the numbers are staying static. If you’d like to know more, pop over and visit http://www.gbss.org.uk/