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Know your Natural Pregnancy and Childbirth Options! What to do about G

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by | 1 views
By Jen Aliano, Natural Baby Pros.
The information in this article was provided in an interview with Gerri Ryan, L.M., C.P.M., FACCE, Co-Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer of the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery. Gerri is a licensed and certified professional midwife, is certified as a doula, and is a nationally recognized doula trainer. She has co-chaired several national health conferences and was one of the first doulas for the Hearts and Hands program at the University of California at San Diego. Gerri currently teaches midwifery students, supervises academic faculty and clinical instructors, and has the primary responsibility for marketing, recruitment, and human resources management for the Nizhoni Institute.
To ask Gerri questions regarding this article, or if you have any other questions relating to pregnancy, birth, or the use of a doula or midwife, visit the Natural Pregnancy and Natural Childbirth sections of our Forum, where Gerri is available as our expert midwife to respond to your questions and concerns.

There are many issues that can arise during pregnancy, but these issues do not always need to become a problem. Often times, when symptoms or other problems come up during pregnancy, it is our body’s way of communicating with us that something is out of balance and needs to be addressed. One very common issue that affects millions of mothers is Group B Strep infection, or GBS. It is so common that doctors routinely screen for this bacteria during pregnancy at around the 36th or 37th week of pregnancy.

What is Group B Strep?

GBS is a common, naturally occurring bacteria normally found in the intestinal tract. Approximately 40% of the population carry this bacterium and most are unaware because it is generally asymptomatic.
In normally healthy individuals who do have GBS, the good, beneficial bacteria in their intestines keeps the GBS at bay and prevent it from overgrowing and spreading. However, when a person lacks the high numbers of healthy bacteria in the gut, and the concentration of GBS in the intestinal tract is allowed to flourish, then GBS can colonize outside of the intestines and travel to and affect the vagina, bladder and occasionally the uterus. It is in this situation that a pregnant mother would test positive for GBS.

How do you Test for and Treat GBS?

Currently in the United States, the standard protocol is to test all pregnant women at 36 or 37 weeks for GBS by swabbing first the vaginal canal and then the anus using the same swab. If she tests positive she will receive IV antibiotic treatment every four hours during labor. The reason that testing and treating GBS is so important is because if the baby is exposed to and infected by GBS, the situation can become life threatening. About one in every 2000 babies born every year is infected with GBS, and a very small percentage of these babies develop a significant illness or die from it if left untreated. Babies that are at a higher risk of being infected and developing complications from GBS include pre-term and low birth-weight babies, and babies whose mothers experienced prolonged labor. Other risk factors for GBS infection include mothers who previously had a child infected with GBS, those whose bag of waters were ruptured for more than 12 hours before the birth of the baby, gestational diabetes, and an increased number of vaginal exams during labor.

There is concern regarding such widespread use of antibiotics for GBS in labor. According to one Cochrane Review study, “antibiotics can have harmful effects such as severe maternal allergic reactions, increase in drug-resistant organisms and exposure of newborn infants to resistant bacteria, and postnatal maternal and neonatal yeast infections.” The threat of drug-resistant organisms itself is of tremendous concern; if every mother who tests positive to GBS is given the same antibiotic treatment during labor, and this practice is carried on from generation to generation, the possibility of GBS developing a resistance to these antibiotics is very likely. We have seen this happen already with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), whose prevalence and deadly consequences has already made an impact on the overuse of antibiotics for every day colds and coughs. On top of all this, IV antibiotic treatment severely reduces the number of healthy bacteria in the body and gut which can be extremely difficult for mom and baby to re-colonize. This is the underlying reason why both mother and baby are then highly susceptible to developing yeast infections and thrush after undergoing the standard antibiotic treatment for GBS, which can lead to multiple problems with breastfeeding and overall immune health in the baby. The baby relies on the mother’s supply of healthy bacteria to seed its own healthy floral colonies, and if the mother’s has been wiped out, then the baby is left with little or no good bacteria to keep out the bad. For these reasons, supplementing both mother and baby with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, after antibiotic use in labor is highly recommended.

What Can be Done Naturally?

There are other, more beneficial and natural ways to approach the treatment of Group B Strep in pregnancy.They are not currently accepted by the medical community and no testing of efficacy has been done.

1. Look for evidence of GBS earlier on in pregnancy.

Specific signs to look for earlier on in pregnancy can point to a possible overgrowth of GBS and lead to early diagnosis, which also creates the option of using more natural treatments. When found earlier, there is more time for a woman to incorporate lifestyle and diet changes to promote an overabundance of healthy flora which will decrease or eliminate her concentrations of GBS and other harmful bacteria.

Extensive urinary screenings throughout pregnancy can be used to detect overgrowth of GBS and other harmful bacteria such as E Coli. It is important to keep in mind as well that if a woman experiences any urinary tract infections during her pregnancy, GBS could be the culprit. A urinalysis with culture and sensitivity can determine whether or not a woman has a GBS related UTI. If it is positive, that woman knows that she may have a problem with GBS come birth time, and she can begin to implement other methods to decrease her concentrations of GBS and create a healthier balance within her system.

2. Eat foods that increase the amounts of good bacteria in your body and gut (prebiotics) as well as foods high in good bacteria (probiotics).

Prebiotics are foods that trigger the growth and increase the amount of good bacteria in the intestines. As mentioned before, the more beneficial bacteria a person has, the harder it is for the bad bacteria to flourish and take over. Dietary fibers found in most fruits and vegetables are great prebiotics; asparagus, garlic, leek, onion, artichoke are just a few with high prebiotic power. Fermented foods such as yogurt, miso, kefir, and sauerkraut are great sources of probiotics, and consuming them regularly can help replenish the healthy flora in the gut.
Also, an alkalinizing diet produces a better environment for healthy bacteria to grow, and inhibits the growth of invading bacteria. Therefore, eating foods that produce more acidity in the body, such as sugar, starchy carbs, and alcohol, should be avoided.

If you have more questions regarding nutrition during pregnancy, visit our Forum and post your questions to our Nutrition experts.

3. Take a multi-strain probiotic supplement.

Be sure that the supplement you choose contains several different strains of healthy bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Natren is a well-known brand and a favorite among practitioners, and they also have probiotics specifically for babies, and some that are diary and soy free for those with allergies. Jarrow is a less expensive brand that can be found in most health food stores.

For women who have already been diagnosed with GBS, or who might be dealing with current or chronic yeast infections, a probiotic suppository for the vagina might also be a good idea. Feme Cleanse is one brand that is available in health food stores. Apple Cider Vinegar flushes or Tea Tree Oil can also be used in these cases.

3. Try Homeopathy, Herbs, and other natural therapies.

Certain Herbs and Homeopathic remedies can help in the treatment of GBS and other infections caused by an imbalance of the body’s natural flora. The homeopathic remedy Streptococcinium is used specifically for GBS.

For more information on Homeopathy and Herbology in general, click on the corresponding links, or if you have questions, visit our forum to ask our homeopathy and herbology experts.

4. Manage your stress.

Stress and other emotional factors can also create a more acidic and welcoming environment for the overgrowth of bad bacteria and GBS. Find the causes of your stress and other negative emotions, and make the time to properly address them. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can be a great way to get to the root cause of and to correct the patterns of a person’s stress. Other ways to cope or help with stress include Acupuncture, Hypnotherapy, and Yoga.

5. Treat your partner.

If you have done everything you can to manage your GBS, but nothing seems to help, consider treating your partner. There is a chance that he is also infected and can re-introduce the bacteria into your system.

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