What’s GBS? Here’s What You Need to Know…

What is GBS (Group B Strep)? Here's what you need to know...

Admittedly, I knew basically nothing about Group B Step until I as pregnant- wait, you too? Ok, good. I think this is one of those thing that catches every woman by surprise, unless you’ve worked in the medical field or had someone you know talk to you about it. Basically, Group B Strep is a colony of bacteria that lies dormant in the bodies of many mothers- often in the vagina or rectum. It won’t make mom sick, but, if passed to the infant, can be life-threatening in it’s seriousness. Thankfully, less than 1% of infants born to GBS- positive moms will contract the illness, and of those, 10% will die.

This risk is a serious one- serious enough that the medical field has built in certain safeguards. To keep GBS in check, mothers are routinely checked (by means of vaginal swabbing and culture) towards the end of their pregnancy to see whether or not they are carrying GBS- usually around 36 weeks. You can refuse the test, but there is very little risk to taking the test itself, and it’s good information to have going into your birth- for you, and for your birth team.

Once a mother tests positive for GBS, they are always considered positive, for the remainder of that pregnancy. If they are, they are then STRONGLY encouraged to be given IV antibiotics every 4 hours during labor to support the babe’s immune system and keep them from getting infected. However, many mothers, in an attempt to make the best decision for their babies in regards to meds during labor, will ‘treat’ their GBS naturally and asked to be retested- and often will end up testing negative before the birth. While your healthcare practitioner will still treat you as if you are positive, you can have the peace of mind to know that you are negative.

Here are some ways that mothers combat a positive GBS test (or prevent a positive one in the first place:
-ACV baths
-Fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi

The problem is this- what if mom, who tested positive and will therefore be considered positive no matter what, doesn’t want to have the antibiotics? There are risks to any kind of IV medication, and antibiotics come with their own slew of problems, particularly for such a tiny, fragile baby with an underdeveloped gut! If you have a retest and know that you are now not carrying GBS, you can use that as a leg up to make the decision to deny meds.

If you test positive, should you deny the antibiotics? That is a very personal decision that should be taken very seriously and talked over with your care provider. But, hopefully, you will feel equipped to discuss the illness, your options, and take preventative measures at home!

Why Your Due Date Doesn’t Matter

Why your Due Date Doesn't Matter!

Today is January 3rd.

To most of you, it’s just any other day. To a lucky few, today is a snow day (yay northeast!) or perhaps it’s a birthday or an anniversary. But for most people, it’s just January 3rd.

But this January 3rd is different for me. Today is MY DUE DATE.

I joked on Twitter yesterday about how someone asked me when I was due and when I told them ‘tomorrow’ they backed away slowly, as if I was going to projectile birth the baby or spew amniotic fluid everywhere. While that may have been an exaggeration, I think general attitude towards the ‘due date’ in modern society is probably worth addressing, and no better day to do it than today!

So, here’s the thing about this whole ’40 week gestation’ deal: it’s an average. Meaning that just as many babies (if they were all left to their own devices, which Lord knows is another blog post) would be born at 38 weeks as are born at 42. Now, our modern medical system has all but eliminated the 42-weeker, what with it’s 1,001 reasons to be induced, so it feels a lot more foreign to think about a lady going a week or two late. But it’s just like I said- if babies were left to come out when they are ready, we’d have just as many 38s as 42s- or pretty darn close.

In addition, we have to look at what goes into figuring out a due date for many women. Yes, doctors have that fun little spinny-wheel thing in their offices that tell you exactly when your due date is, which is great if you’ve been keeping track of your cycle and know exactly what’s going on with your body. But for many women, they are left guessing when their last cycle started, or going off of an ultrasound measurement, which is notoriously inaccurate- up to a week off even in the beginning of pregnancy, and up to three weeks off at the end.

In my case, I had recently had surgery to remove one of my ovaries and fallopian tubes, and found myself pregnant less than a month later, with a totally screwed up cycle and no real clue how it happened (ok, I had a little clue how it happened). Dates of things didn’t seem to line up at all, and my midwife and I were left guessing as to when my due date might be- educated guesses, but still estimates. Thankfully, the dates we came up with have matched ultrasound results and fundal height measurements throughout my pregnancy, so I am pretty confident in this date of January 3rd, but you can see why I’m not holding my breath!

That being said, the number of women who actually go into labor on their due dates is extremely low- less than 5%! So if you see me out and about today, have no fear, I’ll be just fine- though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a change of clothes with me or at least in the car, just in case!

When will she come? Whenever she’s ready. But for now, we’ll wait patiently and know that really, today is just January 3rd- any other day of my pregnancy. 🙂

Happy New Year! Reflections & A Challenge

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” -Jon Acuff

As 2013 draws to a close, and I become less and less active as I wait for baby girl to arrive, I have been spending a lot of time reflecting over this past year and meditating on what I want 2014 to look like. 2013 was a really strange year for me- my pregnancy absorbed 3/4 of it, with the preceding few months being wrapped up in grieving the loss of our first baby and taking care of unexpected medical issues. The year has truly flown by, especially as so many experiences were new and unanticipated!

The one thing that I regret about 2013 is my lack of grace with myself, and my tendency to allow the demon of comparison to have a stronghold in my life. I can’t begin to tell you how many nights I agonized over my family’s financial state and wondered how I would ever provide my daughter with the life I wanted to give her- all the while, my heart focused on superficial things, and distracted by the trappings of someone else’s life. I failed to trust that the Lord’s timing was perfect for my family, and that He would provide for our every need. Truly, He has- the past year has been punctuated by story after story of the Lord graciously pouring out blessings on us- some prayed for, others unexpected. It has been incredibly humbling.

And yet, when I look back on my walk with the Lord, I see this overarching negative theme- I have allowed myself to be constantly plagued by this demon of comparison. Sometimes it has been about how I look, other times it has been the lifestyle I can afford to live, still other times it has been relationships- friendships, family dynamics, even marriages. But each of these times I was selling short the very core of the Lord’s heart for me- who I am, what He has planned. My doubt and my impatience would get the best of me.

Friends, do you struggle with this demon of comparison, too? Do you need to bathe yourself in grace as we enter this new year? Do you feel the weight of the trappings of others on your shoulders? Do you struggle to turn your own blessings back into praise when you see what others have? I know that I need to remind myself everyday of the Image I was created in, and for Whom I am living. I am especially guilty of not trusting Him to provide for my family, and trying to take things into my own hands.

This year, I am resolving to have my life- and my thoughts- be defined by GRACE. For when I fail, for when I feel that I don’t measure up, for when I see others who have the ‘life I want’ or the ‘things I desire’- I will refuse to succumb to the darkness of jealousy, anxiety, and doubt. Instead, I will choose to trust in the Lord and His plans for my family and I. I will take delight in the creation that I am- flaws and all- and seek to become more like Him in my daily life. I will not compare the perfect plan that the Lord has for me to His perfect plan for someone else. I will deny the enemy every foothold as I seek to show grace to myself and to those around me.

If you’re struggling with similar thought patterns, and want to make real change going into the New Year, I encourage you to find a community of people (even one or two) that can hold you accountable, encourage you, and pray for you. This support system is imperative for seeing spiritual development, growth, and healing.

If you’re looking for a structured way to meet your goals for the New Year (whether they are concrete, like budgeting or weight loss, or more abstract like mine), I encourage you to consider signing up for Modern Alternative Mama’s 31 Days to Better Health and Wellness Challenge. The resources that Kate and her team have put together are an incredible value, both in information and support! I will be participating and blogging along with my involvement in the challenge as I begin motherhood and seek to be defined by grace. I’d love to have some of you join me!