Group B Strep is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, and the charity Group B Strep Support is very close to my heart. I found out I carried group B Strep after my daughter was sadly stillborn at full term plus 9 days.
My precious daughter, Faith, was stillborn on 23rd October 2015. Within an hour of arriving at the hospital excited to have our fourth and last child to complete our family, I was holding my dead baby in my arms. My pregnancy with Faith had been normal and healthy, and I have three perfectly healthy children. Tests showed I was heavily colonised with group B Strep, as was my urine, placenta, and Faith’s swabs. While we will never know definitively if this infection was the cause of her death – I believe it was – but had I been tested for group B Strep, Faith might be here today. The fact remains that I will be treated for GBS in future pregnancies, but had to wait for my baby to die to even find out about GBS.
Following Faith’s death I did a huge amount of research, as my doctors did not have much information. I discovered that group B Strep is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies. Group B Strep causes sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia, but most of these infections can be easily prevented by testing pregnant women and, if necessary, offering them antibiotics in labour.
On average in the UK, one newborn baby a day develops GBS, one baby a week dies from GBS and one baby a fortnight who survives the infection is left with life-long disability.
After finding all this information out I felt very passionate about finding out what I can do help bring about change and create more awareness of group B Strep. I contacted GBSS and they informed me of various things I could do, one of which was to join a local Maternity Services Liaison Committee (MSLC). MSLC aim to ensure parents to be and new parents receive the care that they want and need, and that their views are taken account of by the health professionals who look after them.
I immediately googled my local Maternity Services Liaison Committee and emailed them about my concerns regarding the lack of information available to pregnant women about GBS. I received a prompt reply and was asked if I wished to attend their meeting in May. Prior to that meeting I had absolutely no idea these meetings existed and what they involved. I learnt at that meeting that becoming part of the MSLC means your concerns and voice can be listened to by many health care professionals, from midwives to consultants to health care visitors. The Chair of the Committee shared my experience (with Faith) and my concerns about the lack of GBS information available to pregnant women and asked if GBSS leaflets could be included in part of the booking in packs given to women when they meet with their midwife. I personally found the meeting very hard, just to hear the word “baby” said so many times and to be among midwives, and back in the same building where Faith was born, was all very challenging and emotional for me. However, I put myself through it because I will do anything I can to prevent our loss becoming another’s.
Life after loss is very difficult, there are constant reminders everywhere you go and I find I never stop thinking about my baby and that terrible day. But I know I am doing something to bring about change, and that gives me a little hope that although Faith’s life was very short, it has made an impact. I would encourage anyone who is able to join the MSLC to contact their local committee, to make their voice heard and to help bring about change. I am yet to hear at our next meeting in July what our local health care professionals are able to do with regards to creating more awareness of GBS. It is my hope that they will display posters and leaflets in the hospitals in our region and to give a leaflet to all pregnant women at an antenatal appointment. Until the NHS offer sensitive testing to GBS I believe every women should have a choice to be tested privately.
Please see our website www.thefaithcause.com for more information on our various awareness & fundraising events we are doing in aid of GBSS and in memory of our precious daughter Faith.
“becoming part of the MSLC means your concerns and voice can be listened to by many health care professionals, from midwives to consultants to health care visitors”