When a birth plan doesn’t quite go to plan….Raising awareness for group B strep…

Laura has kindly shared her birth story with us, sometimes birth doesn’t always go to plan and Laura would like to spread awareness about something very close to her.

When I finished work for maternity leave, I don’t think it had still sunk in that I was going to be having a baby. I’d had the most amazing, textbook pregnancy… plenty of nausea but no sickness, cravings for mini eggs (oh the hardship) a cute little bump… I had LOVED being pregnant. I had been doing hypnobirthing; I was planning on a home water birth with as few drugs as possible and I was so incredibly excited about it all. I felt really relaxed, and looking forward to giving birth. I had a birth plan, it didn’t even cross my mind that my birth would be anything other than what I had written down on that oh so black and white piece of paper.

I was convinced I was going to be early, I had the 19th June cemented in my mind, so on the morning of the 19th, when I started getting proper contractions, I KNEW he was coming! I was nearly 2 weeks early, and I’d been having light contractions for a couple of days so to be sure that I was actually in labour, I popped myself up to the hospital for them to check. They confirmed I was in active labour and 4cm dilated, so (very excited but also very calm and relaxed) I took myself home to make sure everything was ready for little mans arrival.

I called the husband and told him things had started but that he didn’t need to rush home, and I spent the rest of the day pottering about while still having contractions. By the time Matt got home from work, things had really progressed, and a couple of hours later we called the midwife. When she arrived, she told me that things were progressing really nicely, all was going well, I was still 4cm dilated but she was pretty sure we would have a baby by the morning. A few hours later I got in the pool… and a few hours later I was still there. After a while I got out and decided it wasn’t really doing all that much for me, it seemed to be slowing down and I was starting to get tired (I’d had no sleep since the Saturday!)

On the Tuesday afternoon, I was still in labour at home (two midwife shift changes later!) when we had a call from the hospital – I’d had some swabs done when I was there and they were back… I had Group B Strep. Because I was in active labour, I needed IV antibiotics every 4 hours; we decided the sensible thing to do was to move to the birthing unit in Jessops Hospital, so we packed up all the bits we would need for a brief hospital stint (I’d already got an emergency bag just in case, as I knew things might not go to plan!) and set off on our way.

I was put in a birthing room, given my first load of antibiotics and had all sorts of bloods taken. By Wednesday morning, I was still only 5cm dilated… nothing had progressed.

By late Wednesday evening, I had another visit, this time from a consultant who told me my bloods had come back and I had severe labour on-set pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure had shot through the roof, and my kidneys and liver were failing. I was told I would have to be admitted to the consultant led ward so they could monitor me, they were going to have to break my waters and induce my labour as it still wasn’t progressing; my body was shutting down, and baby was getting grumpy.

My relaxed, drug free hypnobirthing plan promptly flew out the window, I was advised to have an epidural to bring my blood pressure down and get some rest – which I did, desperate to avoid the ever looming threat of a c-section. I have to say though (probably thanks to hypnobirthing) I was still really calm and relaxed.

After 84 hours in active labour, at 1.43pm on Thursday the 22nd June, I finally got to meet my beautiful little boy Frank, having very narrowly missed a caesarean.

We were on cloud 9, it hadn’t been quite the straightforward labour I was expecting, but I still enjoyed every minute of it, and it had all been worth it.

After that glorious first hour, a paediatrician came into the room to look at Frank as they were concerned about his breathing. Next thing I knew, my husband was going one way with Frank to be “monitored” and I was going the other way to the high dependency unit, where they wanted to keep me until my kidneys and liver showed some signs of functioning normally after the pre-eclampsia. I declined the monitoring, all I was bothered about was going to find Frank.

I thought he was going for monitoring, so I wasn’t even a little bit prepared for walking into intensive care to see my little boy in an incubator. The next few hours passed in a blur. I woke up the next morning at 5am, my 30th birthday and I was alone in a hospital bed without my little boy, surrounded by wards of women who had just given birth and had their babies with them. I had a little (big) cry, then pulled myself together. What was the point in feeling sorry for myself, when I could go down to see Frank, sit by his incubator, and maybe be allowed to hold him for just a short while. I managed to track down the consultant covering the room he was in, who told me Frank actually had pneumonia which has been caused by the GBS I had been carrying.

The next few days were all a bit of a haze, spent mostly just sitting in intensive care by his incubator, holding him when we could and trying to avoid all the machines he was hooked up to.

It seemed like forever, but he was only actually in there for 4 days before being moved into special care on day 5, and then the day after he was allowed to come up to the ward with me until I was given the all clear and we were both discharged. My blood pressure still wasn’t normal, there was something wrong with my platelets, and my kidney or liver (I forget!?) wasn’t quite back in working order, but I didn’t care, I was going HOME.

The first few days/ weeks were all a bit of a blur (you can read all about them on my blog – https://www.wingingitinstyle.com/blog/my-intro-to-motherhood – if you want!)

For those wanting some more information about Group B Strep. It is carried by around 25% of women, and the bacteria can be passed from the mother to the baby as they pass through the birth canal. There is a lot of information about GBS here –https://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/about/newborns-pregnant.html – which is worth a read. The UK is one of few countries in Europe that does not screen for GBS routinely during pregnancy, and a woman who is carrying the bacteria usually has no symptoms at all so is completely unaware she has it.

There are a number of reasons that are given by the NHS for not testing as standard, I am not sure whether I agree with them or not… but I DO want to share this story in the hope of raising awareness. The NHS might not do the tests, but you can buy them online. They are available here – https://www.groupbstreptest.co.uk/ and at only £35 (the test is free, the lab fee is £35) they are worth every penny if you are expecting, if only for peace of mind.

We were some so lucky… if they hadn’t have found out about the GBS I probably wouldn’t have gone up to the hospital, or found out about the pre-eclampsia… we would never have realised “grumbling” in a new born baby was a sign of breathing problems, had it not been for the fact the staff were aware I was carrying GBS our story could have been completely different.

I will forever be grateful to the NHS and the amazing midwives, consultants and nurses in the maternity wards and neonatal unit in Jessops for their incredible work. I can’t thank them enough for the wonderful care they gave to me and Frank during that first week, and I will never forget how lucky we are to have our beautiful little boy.

You can find laura on Instagram at winging.it.in.style

Her page also links to her blog

Pop over and say Hi!

Thankyou laura!!!

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