Caesarean sections are not recommended as a means of preventing group B Strep infection in babies since they don’t eliminate the risk (though they do reduce it) and they pose their own risks for mothers and their babies.
All women having a Caesarean section should receive broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotics at the time of the operation – these are effective against a wide range of bacteria, including group B Strep. The risk of the baby developing group B Strep infection when a Caesarean takes place before waters break or labour starts is so low that additional antibiotics specifically against GBS infection in the baby are not recommended, regardless of the mother’s GBS carriage status.
If the waters break or labour starts and the baby is at raised risk of developing GBS infection, the mother should be offered the intravenous antibiotics as soon as possible as for vaginal births, until/if an emergency Caesarean section becomes necessary, when she should be delivered immediately.
Our Medical Advisory Panel’s recommendations with regard to GBS and Caesarean sections are as follows:
Elective or Planned Caesareans If a baby is at higher risk of developing GBS infection and the mother is having an elective Caesarean AND is not in labour AND her waters have not broken, antibiotics in addition to those given to all women having Caesareans are not recommended. If she IS in labour OR her waters have broken, the mother should be offered the intravenous antibiotics as for vaginal births as soon as possible. The baby would only need intravenous antibiotics after birth against GBS infection if born preterm or if there are signs of possible infection in either the mother or the baby
Emergency Caesareans If a woman carries GBS or has previously had a baby infected with GBS and needs an emergency Caesarean, she should be treated as for an elective Caesarean – no intravenous antibiotics are indicated against GBS unless she is in labour or her waters are broken. If she is in labour, she should be treated as for vaginal births up until the time when an emergency Caesarean section becomes necessary, when she should be delivered immediately.
Every pregnancy is different. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your consultant and explain your concerns, so you can work together on a plan that you’re all happy with.
We at GBSS can only provide general information, we can’t give medical advice.