August 28, 2013
Volume 15, Issue 18
Midwifery Today E-News
“Group B Streptococcus (GBS)”
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In This Week’s Issue

Learn about waterbirth with Cornelia Enning

Belgium conferenceWaterbirth is a way for a woman to give birth undisturbed and in dignity. It also has medical advantages for mother and child and can be helpful in the case of breech, OP or twin births. In this class, Cornelia Enning will explore the many benefits and ways of using water in birth and will discuss its unique psychological and physical properties. [photo by Cornelia Enning]

Learn more about the Belgium conference.

Share your passion and joy for midwifery!

Harrisburg conferenceCome to our conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, next April. You’ll meet midwives from around the world while attending classes with teachers such as Gail Tully, Sister MorningStar, Elaine Stillerman, Jeanne Ohm and Carol Gautschi. To receive a printed program by mail when it becomes available, please e-mail with your name and postal address.

Learn more about the Harrisburg conference.

Quote of the Week

When faced with bullying, I advise women to say: “Excuse me, but I do not have to do anything. This is my body and my baby and I am the one who decides what I will do. I am paying you to give me the benefit of your advice; whether or not I take it is entirely up to me.”

Beverley Beech

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The Art of Midwifery

I handle group B streptococcus by giving women information on it regarding the risks, treatment, etc., and leave it up to them whether to culture or not. If they choose to culture, I do it at about 35 weeks. If the culture is positive, I give them the choice of herbal protocol and reculturing in two weeks to make sure the herbs worked. Or they can take antibiotics orally when labor starts.

Betty Idarius, LM, excerpted from “Herbal Protocol for Group B Strep,” Birth Wisdom: Tricks of the Trade, Vol. III, a Midwifery Today book
View table of contents / Order the book

ALL BIRTH PRACTITIONERS: The techniques you’ve perfected over months and years of practice are valuable lessons for others to learn! Share them with E-News readers by sending them to

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Jan’s Corner

Lawyers on Our Side

Midwifery is often at an unfair disadvantage with the law. What I mean is that there are times when, in spite of any birth professional’s best effort, applied skills and care, a baby dies. If that happens at a homebirth, the midwife is often blamed, and punitive legal proceedings unfold. Doctors in hospitals do not face comparable scrutiny following a bad outcome, even though babies and mothers regularly die in the hospital from iatrogenic causes. (See the next issue of Midwifery Today magazine for a scathing account by Ina May Gaskin of the misuse of Cytotec.) The overuse and unnecessary use of Cytotec, inductions, augmentation and other generally inappropriate uses of medical technology cause many problems to mothers and babies. Mothers and midwives are caught in a web of harmful obstetric practices and unjust legal treatment.

We now have help. The joint Midwifery Today/Human Rights in Childbirth conference of April 2, 2013, convened an international coalition of lawyers working for justice in maternity care. The lawyers present at that event included members of Human Rights in Childbirth International, members of the US think tank Legal Advocates for Birth Options and Rights (LABOR), BirthrightsUK, National Advocates for Pregnant Women and individual attorneys who are dedicated to human rights in childbirth.

Since the conference in April, the work of Human Rights in Childbirth (HRiC) network has crystallized. HRiC is a Hague-based organization working to connect and facilitate political activism and legal advocacy for human rights in maternity care the world over, directed by Hermine Hayes-Klein, a US-based lawyer. The US Legal Advocacy Network for Human Rights in Childbirth is a partner organization providing US-based advocacy in matters ranging from the criminal defense of midwives to the lack of informed consent given to women for their birth choices and is directed by Indra Lusero. HRiC Legal Advocacy Networks are also coming into shape in the UK, Ireland, EU and Australia; more are underway.

HRiC is again partnering with Midwifery Today for a one-day summit in Blankenberge, Belgium, on November 4, 2013, the day after the conclusion of our annual conference there. This event will continue to grow the HRiC Legal Advocacy Network by convening the lawyers, mothers and midwives across Europe who are involved in legal actions advocating for the human rights of birthing women.

The persecution of midwives has been going on for decades, if not centuries. For the first time, we have the help of dedicated lawyers on our side. Hermine and the lawyers working with HRiC declare that all birthing women share fundamental human rights to autonomy and authority in childbirth, including the right to choose the circumstances in which they give birth. This fact is one that we acknowledged in the wording of the Human Rights Declaration of the Global Midwifery Council written in Russia in 2010: “The most basic human right for every woman is the right to choose her place of birth and who will attend her.”

The battles waged for control of the maternity care market often have legal significance. Those of us who seek to ensure that birthing women have real options in childbirth need legal advocates who understand the issues and are ready to stand up against perverse market forces and entrenched systems. You can join Midwifery Today in supporting the efforts of HRiC to provide such advocacy by registering for our joint conference on November 4. You can also support HRiC directly at Human Rights in Childbirth and on Facebook at

Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today

Jan Tritten is the founder, editor-in-chief and mother of Midwifery Today magazine. She became a midwife in 1977 after the amazing homebirth of her second daughter. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world, or join her online, as she works to transform birth practices around the world.

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Featured Article

GBS, Pregnancy and Garlic: Be Part of the Solution

Group B streptococcus (GBS) has not always been the household name it is today. GBS was proven to be the cause of serious newborn infection only 35 years ago. In 1996 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) came out with its first protocols to lower the rate of GBS infection in newborns. In 2002 those protocols were changed, as more research has shown that half the 1996 protocols were wrong. In another five years, the field of GBS may change again. In any case, intrapartum antibiotic use is a temporary strategy until a vaccine is tested and proven to work.

The CDC protocols are intended to decrease the incidence of early onset GBS disease. Early onset means that the baby gets GBS infection during the first week of life. Recent data show that in over 90% of infants who get early GBS infections, symptoms occur within the first 24 hours of life. Use of IV antibiotics in labor has resulted in a decrease in early onset GBS disease, but it has not and most likely will not prevent GBS-stillbirths, prematurity or late onset neonatal infections.

Insufficient research exists to suggest a course of management for preterm labor, i.e., labor starting before completion of 37 weeks (three weeks before the due date). Current management of premature labor is based not on research but largely on “expert opinions” of individual physicians or institutions.(1) It is usually suggested that if a GBS culture has not been done in the current pregnancy and there is a considerable probability of preterm delivery, antibiotics should be given to lower the risk of GBS infection until culture results are returned from the lab. If a negative culture result within the previous four weeks is on record, or if the clinician determines that labor can be successfully arrested and preterm delivery averted, antibiotics for GBS prophylaxis should not be initiated. Recent clinical trials suggest that antibiotic administration during pregnancy may be associated with adverse neonatal outcomes, such as necrotizing enterocolitis (a serious infectious disease caused by bacteria, marked by fever and ulcerative inflammation of the large and small intestines) and fetal death.(1) Antibiotics should be reserved for instances in which labor is likely to lead to delivery.

No research has been done yet that can recommend a specific dosage or duration of antibiotics for GBS-positive women with threatened preterm delivery. With no data, management is left up to the discretion of the individual provider. It has been established that recto-vaginal cultures for GBS are only predictive if the cultures are collected within four to five weeks of delivery. Therefore, if the woman is screened for GBS because of threatened preterm delivery but does not deliver within four weeks, she should be cultured again for GBS every four to five weeks and managed according to the last culture.

At the time of the 1996 CDC recommendations it was thought that if a woman cultured positive for GBS, she would always culture positive and should be treated thus. This has now been disproven by research. A culture from a previous pregnancy is not applicable to the next or any other pregnancy. The culture is only accurate for a few weeks. GBS comes and goes, depending on the microbiological conditions, such as availability of nutrients and competition from other families of bacteria. All women should be cultured as close to delivery as possible.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2002, Aug 16. Prevention of Perinatal Group B Streptococcal Disease. MMWR 51(RR-11).

Judy Slome Cohain
Excerpted from “GBS, Pregnancy and Garlic: Be Part of the Solution,” Midwifery Today, Issue 72
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Featured Products

See how touch can be used during labor and birth
Nurturing Touch for Birth DVDWhen you watch Nurturing Touch for Birth you’ll see the integrated use of touch during two home and two hospital births. The powerful imagery, evocative music, and inspiring narration all illustrate vividly the importance and power of touch. This DVD is perfect for childbirth education classes and doula trainings, and will also be an inspiration to midwives, nurses, and pregnant mothers and their birth companions. Buy the DVD.

Are you a student midwife attending school or on a self-study course?
Birthsong Midwifery WorkbookIf you are, the Birthsong Midwifery Workbook is just what you need! Are you an experienced midwife preparing for an exam? Use this book as a refresher guide to help you study. The sixth edition has 13 chapters that cover the basics of normal birth and midwifery. To Order

Read about the third stage of labor!
Third Stage e-book cover

The Third Stage of Labor e-book is packed with information about the umbilical cord, the placenta and natural approaches to this phase of birth. This collection of 15 articles from past issues of Midwifery Today magazine includes “Placenta Accreta by Marion Toepke McLean, “Cord Burning” by Kelly Dunn, “On Meconium at Home and Delayed Cord-cutting” by Naolí Vinaver, “Placenta Rituals and Folklore from Around the World” by Sarah J. Buckley and “The Problem Is Induction, Not Meconium” by Gail Hart. Buy your copy and have it with you at the next birth you attend!

Available on Amazon or on Smashwords in a variety of formats.

Learn from the Eugene 2011 conference teachers!

Order this selection of classes on a portable USB drive, then load them onto your computer or into your MP3 player to have them handy whenever you have time to listen. Classes include First and Second Stage Difficulties with Gail Hart and Vicki Penwell, Shoulder Dystocia with Ina May Gaskin and Elizabeth Davis, Third Stage Difficulties with Marion Toepke McLean and Supporting Trauma and Abuse Survivors through Pregnancy and Postpartum with Maryl Smith. To order


Celebrate the Power of Birthing Women!
Epic Women DVD Slide ShowThe Epic Women DVD Slide Show by Harriette Hartigan is a powerful affirmation of woman’s ability to give birth naturally. Choreographed to Bette Midler singing "The Rose," the 31 still photographs give witness to the strength and grace of women as they work to bring their babies into the world. Order the DVD.

What is Midwifery Today magazine?
A 72-page quarterly print publication filled with in-depth articles, birth stories from around the world, stunning birth photography, news, reviews and more. Subscribe. Midwifery Today Magazine

Website Update

Read this article excerpt from Midwifery Today magazine recently posted to our website:

  • The Newborn Imprint—by Sister MorningStar

    Excerpt: Every baby born deserves uninterrupted, undisturbed contact with her mother in the environment the mother has nested by her own instinctual nature to create. Any movement we make to enter that inner and external womb must be acknowledged as disturbing and violating to what nature is protecting.

Birth Q&A

Q: What are your experiences with GBS or your ideas about it?

— Midwifery Today

A: I can tell you that, as a midwife working in an illegal state, GBS is one of the most difficult issues to deal with.

— Amy Miceli

A: Here in Italy, GBS is a big issue. The hospitals screen for it, but at home we give the possibility to follow UK guidelines: no tampons and look for risk factors. Even though homebirths are legal, it is difficult to find a doctor who allows midwives to use antibiotics during labour.

— Maria Dalle Pezze

A: As midwives, we need to bring awareness to prevention! Have our ladies eat foods high in probiotics, especially in the last trimester. The colon needs to be saturated with flora that prevents this bacteria’s proliferation. Kefir has more and different probiotics than yogurt, but both are good to use.

— Carol Gautschi

A: I have my mamas eating fermented foods. Since I have been doing this, I have a much, much lower rate of GBS. There is a great cook book that just came out with fantastic recipes for fermented foods. Many of my families are using this book: The Essential Book of Fermentation by Jeff Cox.

— Susanna Napierala

[Editor’s note: Look for more of the answers to this question in Issue 108 of Midwifery Today magazine this winter.]

Learn about midwifery education!

Are you an aspiring midwife who’s looking for the right school? Are you a practicing midwife who would like to learn more? Visit our Education Opportunities page to discover ways to start or continue your education.

Conference Chatter

Book Your Room for Belgium!

The Blankenberge, Belgium, conference is now only a couple of months away! We’re getting excited for it and we hope you are, too. If you’re planning on going, have you booked your hotel yet? Well, this is just a reminder that now is the time!

The lovely Duinse Polders, the site of our conference in Belgium, is holding a block of rooms for attendees, but only until August 31. After that, the rooms in this sought-after vacation spot right by the Belgium coast will go like hot cakes! Be sure to book now to ensure you’ll have a wonderful, cozy place to stay while you attend the conference. And remember, delicious gourmet meals are included in the price, so it’s a great deal.

You’ll find more information on booking a hotel room here.

Please check out our website for more general information about our upcoming conferences in Belgium and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

If you have any questions about this conference or any conference, past or future, please feel free to drop me a note at and I’ll be happy to assist you.

— Andrea Goldman, conference coordinator

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I was a doula for a momma once whose gown kept slipping off her shoulders—it was irritating the heck out of her. I said, “You can take that thing off, ya know.” So she peeled it off and was using the squat bar totally naked when the doc walked in and he said, “Oh! I’ve never seen that before!” (What?! He’s an OB for cryin’ out loud!)

— Jane Crouch

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