Just a quick little "Tip of the Day" regarding Group Beta Strep and the use of penicillin during labor and delivery.
I was recently supporting a woman in labor whose GBS test (a swab taken week 37 of your pregnancy) came back positive. She was told by her obstetrician that during labor, she would have to be administered Penicillin every four hours via an IV to protect her newborn. Mom and her husband were perfectly ok with this, and were aware that she would have an IV fairly soon after being admitted to Labor and Delivery. They were also told that if her membranes ruptured at home, the penicillin would be started right away.
Mom's labor began in th wee hours of a wednesday morning. She labored at home for most of Wednesday, and by early evening wednesday night, her labor had progressed and she decided it was time to go to the hospital.
9:30 pm: We arrived at the hospital. Mom went through the hospital protocol and was admitted. She was 6-7 cm dilated, we were thrilled!
11:00 pm: She was laboring beautifully, out of the bed, able to move, we massaged her back, whispered in her ear, swayed to gentle music.
11:30 pm: The nurse cam in with an IV pole and two bags, one of saline solution, and one of Penicillin (for the GBS). She waited patiently for mom to be ready for her IV. Everything went smoothly, but as she started the infusion, I looked at mom's face, and she was wide eyed and looking very upset. She then told us her arm was on fire, it seems as though the substance in the IV was creating this very strong burning sensation. She was not allergic to Penicillin, but the burning was as she put it :"way worse than my contractions are, I can't stand this". We asked the nurse whether we could stop the IV and not receive the Penicillin. She said she would check mom's OB. She came back moments later and said that the Penicillin was a must. Mom was crying, she was stressed, and could not cope anymore. We tried soothing her, caressing her tear stained face, we placed a cold washcloth on her arm covering the IV. Nothing helped.
The nurse was very concerned, and told us that the infusion would take about 25-30 minutes. Then all of a sudden, her face lit up, and she mentioned that maybe she could slow the infusion, the Penicillin would take longer to infuse, but maybe that way, mom would be able to cope better. By the time the infusion had slowed a little, probably 15 minutes into it, mom was feeling a little better. The burning sensation had abated somewhat, and she was able to focus better on her labor, and calm down.
4:00 am: Mom was still laboring, the effect of the first dose of Penicillin had worn off, but the nurse came in with bag #2. This time, she strated the infusion much more slowly, and it didn't feel as painful. The burning sensation was still there, but it was much less painful.
In conclusion, if your GBS test comes back positive, check with your caregiver and find out if he/she is ok with slowing the infusion to lessen the effect of the substance in the IV.