Grace Banham writes:
I really hope my story catches your eye and brings some awareness of how important testing for group B Strep is, how deadly it can be in newborns and how the NHS NEED to start routinely testing.
October 2017, nearly 9 months ago our firstborn Violet Esme was stillborn she was the most incredible, beautiful little girl I have ever set eyes on, she was beautiful and she stole our hearts from the day she was born. No one prepared us for this kind of news, experience and heartache we were about to receive. I didn’t even realise this could or would happen at such a late stage in pregnancy especially during labour. I know stillbirths do happen but I never realised how common it is especially in late pregnancies.
The day of labour finally arrived. We were so excited, nervous and apprehensive – we hadn’t done any of this before! For us our labour didn’t go how we had planned. It went totally the opposite on a day that we will never ever forget. I’ll never forget the moment she picked up the Doppler and placed it on my bump ‘has she moved position’ to check our baby’s heartbeat she placed the Doppler on again, she couldn’t find it, it had gone.
To everyone’s surprise Violet’s heartbeat had stopped just like within minutes. Our hearts were shattered. The whole room went silent you could see the sadness wave over everyone’s faces, it’s the most heart-shattering thing me and my husband have ever had to go through. I then became very ill, it had come to light that I had an infection which had turned into Sepsis. Little Violet had suffered with this too which stopped her heart from beating. We stayed in the bereavement suite which was situated in our birthing centre where we had given birth. We stayed here as a family of 3 spending quality time together and the only time we had. I couldn’t believe what was happening, our daughter wouldn’t be coming home with us and that would be something we now have to live with.
Once all my results had come back they had told me I carried group B Strep. I had never heard of this or been told about it by anyone. I was furious that no one had ever mentioned it and the reason our daughter had died was because of this particular bacteria they don’t test for. I left the hospital. I was determined to get to the bottom of what exactly was going on, what this infection was, how on earth had I caught it and most importantly start raising awareness to others.
I researched who could help this is where I came across Group B Strep Support, I couldn’t believe it was the only charity to raise awareness, provide support and information on this deadly infection. Not only that I also couldn’t believe the NHS don’t routinely test for it. I researched what the bacteria was, how you get it, if it is contagious and how to help prevent newborns from contracting GBS infections. Other countries test for GBS in late pregnancy but why not the UK? This is now something I am determined to help change!
I hope my story continues to reach pregnant women who are not aware of what group B Strep is or how deadly it can be if passed on to your newborn and if you are please please ask your midwife or buy the test which can be bought independently.
Remember, why guess when you can test?
Help save a baby’s life.