Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Herbs that Worked for GBS

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacterial infection that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum. This bacteria is normally found in the vagina and/or lower intestine of 15% to 40% of all healthy, adult women.

Those women who test positive for GBS are said to be colonized. A mother can pass GBS to her baby during delivery. GBS is responsible for affecting about 1 in every 2,000 babies in the United States. Not every baby who is born to a mother who tests positive for GBS will become ill.

Although GBS is rare in pregnant women, the outcome can be severe, and therefore physicians include testing as a routine part of prenatal care.

I tested positive for GBS at 36 weeks and was feeling really torn over the idea of having antibiotics administered intravenously during labor every 8 hours for half an hour. Although it didn't feel like the end of the world, I was concerned about the possibility of me and the baby having thrush after the birth. Thrush is an overgrowth of candida for the breasts and babies mouth, and makes breastfeeding really painful. Yeast infections and thrush are more likely after antibiotic use since it kills off all the healthy bacterial flora in your body, leaving a vacant space for less friendly ones to take over. I was also a little concerned about how antibiotics during birth would affect Jasper's brand new immune system. I don't really know a lot about that interplay, but it didn't seem ideal.

Many women opt out of being tested for GBS if they know they would be automatically opposed to antibiotic use during labor. This requires that you be a bit more vigilant about the new baby for developing any signs of sickness, because the infection is rare but really damaging with a high mortality rate.

When I tested positive I started doing a whole bunch of herbal remedies for a little less than two weeks. When I re-tested I came back negative. I hear that GBS comes in 5 week cycles, so I can't say it was for sure the herbal remedies, but my feeling is that they were helpful. I am going to continue to do some of them up until delivery.

- I took a sitz bath everyday with calendula, thyme, rosemary, salt, yarrow and oregan grape root.

- I either drank oregon grape root tea 3x a day or took a full dropper of oregon grape root tincture as well as two full droppers of usnea tincture 3x a day. The oregan grape is a bitter and since I was already having some nausea in the mornings, I was throwing up my first cup of tea. I seemed to be able to handle it fine later in the day.

- I used whole garlic cloves as a vaginal suppository. I also tried a remedy my midwife recommended of chopping up garlic and mixing it with marshmallow root and using that as a suppository. I am not really sure how much more effective that is... I do know that if applied when it hasn't dried yet it will burn!

-I made goldenseal suppositories by encapsulating the powder. This makes for a lot of yellow grainy discharge, but I think it was worth it.

-I took an echinacea tincture (1 dropper full 1x a day) and occasionally drank burdock tea.

- I took Grapefruit seed extract in the evening and Femdophilus (a probiotic for healthy vaginal flora) in the mornings.

- I took 30 mg of zinc daily to strengthen my water membranes, becuase it sucks for your water to break first when you are GBS positive. You start receiving antibiotics when you are in active labor OR your water breaks. There is also more concern about infection the longer your membranes have ruptured, especially if you are GBS positive. And time constraints are really stressful.

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