GBS is a bacteria that is commonly found in our gut. In the last decade it has been discovered that many of the sick babies in the NICU are sick from a GBS infection. It has become a common medical practice to test every pregnant woman for GBS at the end of pregnancy and if found, treat it with prophylactic antibiotics.
That may sound all well and good to many western practitioners concerned about keeping babies healthy, however, I believe the presence of GBS in the vagina is a sign that the body’s immune system is out of alignment. Our healthy immune system begins in the gut. Sometimes this is imbalance is from the use of antibiotics, whether taken for medical reasons or eaten in our foods (much of the overuse of antibiotics comes from the antibiotics given to cows and other animal sources of food). Other sources that lower the good bacteria in our gut include: chlorinated water, antibacterial soap, lawn and farm chemicals and pollution. GBS is an opportunistic bacteria that will thrive if weaker bacteria is killed off by weaker antibiotics. Anything less than penicillin will not kill GBS and therefore gives GBS the opportunity to become the predominate bacteria in the body. It can also come from chronic stress.
One of the ways to help restore the balance of bacteria in the body is to focus on improving the health of your digestive flora starting at the beginning of the pregnancy, if not earlier. I believe that increasing the numbers of Lactobacillus in the body may lead to lower levels of group B streptococcus living in the GI and reproductive tracts and all of current research supports this. Most modern Americans have been exposed to antibiotics and eat a sterilized food supply. We have moved away from the fermented foods that were so prominent in the diets of our grandparents: sauerkraut, live pickles, kim chee, kefir, beet kvaas, kombucha, yogurt, etc. All over the world, lacto-fermented foods have sustained our species for millennia. These foods re-inoculated our bodies with friendly Lactobacilli. Today, yogurt is the only lacto-fermented food most Americans eat with any regularity, most often sugary yogurt made from the pasteurized milk of cows raised on a diet of antibiotics and hormones. The best yogurt to eat is plain organic yogurt and you can add your own sugar or honey to the yogurt…honey actually activates the bacteria in the yogurt, making it a far healthier food to eat. You could also drink raw milk.
Please consider taking a probiotic supplements and/or begin to regularly eat fermented foods throughout pregnancy to encourage healthy gut flora. Kim chee, pickles and sauerkraut are made from cabbage, carrots and other cheap vegetables. A week's worth of homemade kim chee costs less than $1.00.
Taking probiotics and eating fermented food also helps you loose weight after the baby is born, prevent eczema in your child, prevent colic, optimize your baby’s weight, lessen your child’s chance of allergies and prevent premature labor.
One of my favorite ways to eat fermented foods is to make pickled onions. Thinly slice one red onion and cover with ume vinegar and they are ready to eat in 24 hours. They are delicious on sandwiches, in salads, in eggs and stir fries. Even children will love the taste of these onions since the vinegar takes out the strong taste of the onion and the vinegar has a very mild, salty taste.
Other things that can help your gut function more efficiently are enzymes. You could also think about taking adaptogen herbs. These include Tulsi, tumeric, rhodiola and ashwaganda. For more ideas on fermented foods, please consider buying the cookbook, “Nourishing Traditions."
To read a well-researched article on GBS, go to Evidence Based Birth.
Peaceful birthing to you all....