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Counties Manukau Health Birthing and Assessment (B & A)

Public Service Maternity Maternity/Birthing Facilities

Group B Streptococcus

This is the name of a bacterium which is often found on swabs from the vagina.  If it is there you would not know – you get no symptoms. If it is in your urine you may have the signs of a urine infection.

If we find it on swabs in pregnancy we will not treat you. It comes and goes and treating it does not stop it from coming back. But there are two main times when it is important that you get antibiotics:

  • if it is found on swabs after 34 weeks of pregnancy – because during birth the infection can pass to baby
  • if it is found in urine – all urine infections need to be treated as they can make you really ill and they can lead to premature birth. This will be treated with antibiotic tablets.

Why does it not pass to baby in pregnancy?

This bacteria does not move upwards. It is baby moving downwards or vaginal examinations which cause the risk. That is why we give you antibiotics into a vein every 4 hours when you go into labour.

If your baby does become infected he/she can be very sick.

Are there any other reasons to give the antibiotics in labour?

Yes, we give them if:

  • your membranes rupture before labour and you are more than 37 weeks; Read more
  • you are in preterm labour and your membranes have ruptured Read More
  • the bacterium has been found in your urine at any time in this pregnancy
  • you have had a baby before who has been infected with this bacteria.

We may want to keep you and baby in hospital or the birthing unit longer than you planned. This is to make sure your baby does not show signs of infection. This will all depend on how much of the antibiotic you had before he/she was born.

Pamphlet - Group B Streptococcus

This page was last updated at 11:57AM on October 6, 2020.