Cooper is our 2nd son and is now 3 years old. I only briefly heard about GBS from another mother in a postnatal group following the birth of our 1st son, Oakley, and never thought much about it.
With Cooper I was lucky enough to give birth in a wonderful midwifery led unit. I remember he slept a lot in the first 12 hours and didn’t feed for long, however I had heard the pethidine injection I had could make babies a bit drowsy. Before being discharged the midwife was concerned he hadn’t fed long enough, but after our conversation he did wake up, have one big feed before falling back to sleep and I advised the midwife I was happy to go home.
The first couple of days at home were wonderful and I was amazed at how well I adapted to having a 19 month and newborn at home. At our day 3 midwife appointment I commented that I was a little concerned about his umbilical cord. The midwife took a swab and removed the cord clamp as it was so close to his skin and was rubbing and making him sore. She advised she thought he would need antibiotics but my GP surgery would confirm in a couple of days. On day 5 I had taken both boys to visit a friend and left hubby at home doing some DIY. He called me to say the hospital had rung, Cooper did have an infection and we needed to go to the special care baby unit (SCBU). I was a little confused as I thought the GP surgery would ring, but assumed that maybe because he was only a few days old they would check him over before giving us the antibiotics.
When we got to the hospital they advised that Cooper had GBS and would need to stay in, they explained that this infection can become extremely serious and we would need IV antibiotics, blood cultures and observations to ensure that this infection didn’t become septicaemia or meningitis. My hubby took our 19 month old home to get myself and Cooper clothes and supplies, and we both did the one thing you shouldn’t do, we googled GBS in babies. To read 1 in 10 babies die, and 1 in 5 are left with a disability was absolutely the worst thing I could see.
Cooper was allowed to stay with me in the parent room and we spent 4 nights there in total. My hubby was with our 19 month old so visits were short and my parents were unable to visit as they had colds. The TV didn’t work and the phone signal was terrible unless I was in a very specific spot in the ward kitchen by a window, it was definitely the worst few days of my life.
The nurses and doctors were wonderful and within a day I understood that Cooper would be fine, it had been caught early and he was getting the treatment needed. Looking back now I realise how ‘easy’ Cooper had seemed those first few days, he was easier to feed in comparison to his brother at that age, he slept well and didn’t cry that much. I now realise that these were possibly symptoms of the GBS infection. I think the difficulty is expecting parents to recognise some of these symptoms when they aren’t that extreme. Not many parents know what ‘normal’ feeding should be, or assume a baby is ‘irritable’ because they are just new to the world. I would have loved for a bit more information in Bounty packs or a leaflet to be given out just to prompt parents to look for these symptoms. I would have loved to have an information pamphlet in SCBU giving me details (but also hope) about GBS so I didn’t have to turn to google.
Cooper was very lucky, I’m grateful he needed that swab which picked up the GBS infection much sooner, and we thank our stars every day that he was one of the 7 in 10 that completely recovered. I wish the outlook was this positive for many more parents.
I found the GBSS website after I had gone home from hospital and was just trying to understand a little more about the condition. I am now completing an access to midwifery course and have come across GBSS again and the valuable work they do.