Previous GBS experience: In September 2012, I gave birth to a stillborn daughter after 38 weeks of pregnancy. The autopsy showed my placenta was infected with GBS, which caused the umbilical cord to swell and cut off the blood flow to the baby. My daughter basically drowned in my womb 😓 My waters were still intact at the time she died, which is very uncommon. I was scheduled to receive antibiotics during labour because I had tested positive for GBS, but it was already too late.
How long did you wait before conceiving again? We waited 15 months.
Emotional state during pregnancy: I was very anxious and had difficulty bonding with the baby. I put myself on probiotics to try and keep the GBS from spreading to the baby. And I would cry whenever the doctor told me everything was fine. I kept waiting for something to go wrong.
How did your provider address any emotional concerns about losing another baby? My family doctor had transferred me to the hospital's high risk pregnancy unit for a pre-pregnancy consultation and we had established a protocol for a subsequent pregnancy. So when I did get pregnant, I was being followed by an amazing team of doctors who took all my concerns very seriously. I was also followed by a psychologist throughout the pregnancy.
How did your provider address any medical concerns about losing another baby? Since GBS was the probable cause of death, I had urine tests done every month during the pregnancy. If any traces of GBS showed in my urine samples, I immediately received antibiotics. I was also to receive antibiotics during labour.
Pregnancy/birth plan: The plan was to induce labour before the time at which the previous baby had died, which I estimated to be at 37 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy. So I was induced at 37 weeks and 4 days.
Medical plan after birth: After birth, the doctors were to test the baby for GBS and monitor him closely for the first 48 hours. It was also necessary to monitor him after birth because I took antidepressant medication throughout the pregnancy.
What did you do personally to help alleviate stress, anxiety, etc. during this pregnancy? I took lots of baths in my therapeutic bath tub. And was also part of a support group of mothers who were pregnant again after losing a baby. And I had a good friend to talk to who had already gone though a pregnancy after losing a baby.
What did you do personally to help alleviate stress, anxiety, etc. after this baby was born? I tried to rest and sleep as much as I could, but it didn't work. I suffered from post-traumatic stress after my daughter's death and the symptoms came back in full force following the birth of my son. Six months after his birth, I was also diagnosed with post-partum depression. So I sought psychological treatment again to deal with the PTSD and the depression.
Additional information you would like to share about your story: I live in Canada where all pregnant women are tested for GBS at 36 weeks of pregnancy. However, doctors don't tell their patients about the real risks of GBS infection and actually downplay the seriousness of testing positive for GBS. Also, I wish that all pregnant women were more informed about the importance of monitoring their baby's movements so that less babies die in the womb when they could have been saved outside of it.
How do you share GBS information with others? I told everyone I know about GBS having caused my daughter's death. I also share posts about GBS awareness on my Facebook page.
If you would like, please leave encouragement for parents having another baby: Having another baby will be the most stressful and courageous thing you will do after loosing a baby. You need to be well prepared, but the reward of having a beautiful and healthy baby you can watch grow is well worth all the stress. So I wish for you to find all the courage you will need.