Alternative GBS Treatments

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Welcome to Part 2 in our GBS Series all about Alternative GBS Treatments. 

**If you haven't already, click on over to read Part 1- What is GBS?**

So you've tested positive for GBS, now what?  Well, CDC protocol recommends you receive IV antibiotics (penicillin or ampicillin) at least 4 hours prior to delivery with a repeat dose every 4 hours that you're in labor.  But, what if you don't want to receive antibiotics?


First, let's take a quick look at the evidence.

  • If a mother who carries GBS is not treated with antibiotics during labor, the baby’s risk of becoming colonized with GBS is approximately 50% and the risk of the baby developing a serious, life-threatening GBS infection is 1 to 2% (Boyer & Gotoff 1985; CDC 2010).
  • If a woman with GBS is treated with antibiotics during labor, the risk of her infant developing an early GBS infection drops by 80%. 

Essentially, the evidence tells us that the baby's risk of getting a life-threatening infection from a GBS+ mother drops from 1% to 0.2% when the mother receives antibiotics during labor.


What about alternative treatments?

Garlic to treat GBS
  • Risk Based Approach- With this approach, the laboring woman receives antibiotics only if she has a fever in labor or if her water has been broken for longer than 18 hours (Fun Fact: this is the routine procedure in UK, no GBS testing is done during pregnancy).
  • Chlorhexidine (aka Hibiclens) Rinses- Hibiclens is a topical disinfectant that kills bacteria on contact.  In the vagina, the anti-GBS effects last anywhere from 3-6 hours.  Although chlorhexidine does reduce the risk of a newborn being colonized with GBS, it has not been proven to decrease the risk of actual GBS infections in newborns.
  • Garlic- has natural antibacterial properties, and some websites recommend putting garlic in the vagina to eliminate GBS before the test. However, there is very little good quality evidence to back up the treatment.
  • Pre & Probiotics- a small study showed that lactobacilli inhibited GBS growth but more study and evidence needs to be done.   Extra: Click on over to read more about the human microbiome and birth.

Bottom line?  Only YOU can decide what decision is best for you and your family and at Fort Worth Doula Associates, we wholeheartedly support whatever decision you make.  It's what we do- compassionate, judgement-free support.