The month’s main goal is to generate even more healthy baby success stories. We adore hearing accounts of what we consider to be ideal; Mum took a group B Strep specific (ECM) test, developed an appropriate plan of action with her health professionals based on her carriage status and delivered a happy, healthy baby.
We just recently received the following birth announcement via Facebook,
“Just wanted to say 'Thanks' for your page and raising the profile of group B Strep in pregnancy. After reading about it, I had myself checked and was diagnosed at 32 weeks as a carrier. On Monday my waters broke and rather than staying at home I knew it was important for me to get straight to hospital to have the IV antibiotics so my child would be born safely. Thankfully later that day my daughter was born (two weeks early) at 6lb 8oz, and it's thanks to your page I was aware of the infection."
THIS is the kind of email that makes the whole office cheer in delight! THIS is why we do what we do. THIS is why we’re asking all our supporters and social media followers to get involved all month long.
As we recently learned from the Bounty ‘Word of Mum’ Research Panel1, only 47% of the 4,673 of new and expectant mums who took part had heard of group B Strep. And only 34% of them knew about it from their midwives, GPs or antenatal classes. This goes beyond not good enough, this is unacceptable. Another story that recently came through our inboxes was of a first time mum who learned she was a GBS carrier from a swab to investigate thrush symptoms. She never received the leaflet she was promised and was fobbed off at every appointment when she asked for more clarification about group B Strep and what to expect. All she was told was that she would receive intravenous antibiotics in labour. She trusted the knowledge of her health professionals and because they didn’t seem concerned enough to discuss it she did not investigate further. Despite this being her first, she laboured extremely quickly and even though her health professionals knew she was a GBS carrier they told her to wait. As she explains,
“…but then I began to feel my baby’s head coming. We rushed to the hospital. My waters broke in the hospital car park and I gave birth in A&E!! My partner told the A&E staff I had GBS but because my baby came so quickly there was no time to administer any antibiotics. My daughter took an infection… I would like to stress that I was aware I had GBS and so was the hospital, but the lack of knowledge and information/advice given was so poor. I wish I had of been better informed.”
Her advice to other expectant mums who are group B Strep carriers and think they are in labour,
“Do not take ‘No’ for an answer. Demand to be checked out. Go straight to hospital.”
Luckily though, from Bounty’s research we also learned that 66% of those who knew about group B Strep had heard about it from a friend, magazine, and/or pregnancy book. This shows the power behind word of mouth; whether that comes from parents chatting in mum and baby groups, sharing their personal group B Strep experiences with local media, fundraising, or just re-tweeting and sharing Facebook posts.
This July. there are so many ways you can get involved and raise awareness. Not everyone has the time or energy to organise an event and we understand that, so here are some of the easiest ‘pledges’ you can make:
•Tell as many people as you can about group B Strep; Circulate an email to your friends, family, and work colleagues with a brief description of group B Strep (and/or your experience) including our website and contact details.
•Shop online through Give as you Live - raise donations for Group B Strep Support for free when you shop at over 4,000 stores of your favourite retailers like Amazon, M&S, Argos, Waitrose and more.
•Change your social media profile and cover pictures to Group B Strep Awareness Month imagery.
•Share the Group B Strep Fact-a-day & Group B Strep Challenge-a-day that we’re posting throughout July, as much as you can through your own social media channels.
•Update your Facebook or other social media status to say, “Group B Strep is the most common cause of severe infection in newborn babies, and of meningitis in babies up to 3 months. Most GBS infections in newborns are preventable #GBSaware”
•Update your Twitter or other social media status to say, “Group B Strep is commonest cause of severe infection in newborns & meningitis in babies <3 mo. Most GBS infection in newborns is preventable”
•Post on Facebook, Twitter and other social media using these hashtags: #GBSaware #GBSsupport #InformedChoice #WhyGuess
•Donate by texting: Text GBSS02 - £amount – to 70070
If you are able to do a bit more, these are also hugely helpful (and fun!):
•Come run (or walk) with GBSS CE Jane Plumb the British 10K on Sunday 12 July. We have 16 spaces left. Wouldn't it be brilliant if we could get them all filled, everyone wearing a new GBSS t-shirt?
•Take a group B Strep information pack to your local GP surgery or the maternity unit in your local hospital, or Mum and toddler group, cafe, supermarket, nursery or sports centre – ask if you can PIN A GBS POSTER.
•Organise a group B Strep coffee morning – let us know when and where and we can send you group B Strep information packs and promotional materials or you can download them for free. Get in touch at email@example.com.
•Give a talk to your local Mum & baby group or lunch club – We can provide you with a short presentation to help as well as information materials.
•Invite your friends over for dinner via Dinner4Good
oDon’t want to cook? - Then organise a ‘pot luck’ dinner – everyone brings a different dish to your dinner and makes a donation, a great way to see friends and raise money too!
•Do you own a business or shop? – Add a group B Strep poster onto your notice boards, put leaflets in the reception areas and a collecting tin on the counter.
•Tell your story to the media – If you have been affected by group B Strep, talk to your local press and TV. Tell them what happened and let them know you are doing this to create much greater awareness of group B Strep and July’s Group B Strep Awareness Month. Need help? Download a press release template here.
•If you are a health professional – you can download free information materials – or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org – we can send out larger supplies.
These are still just a few of the many ideas you can use to make a significant difference this month and increase that 47%! For more ideas and inspiration, please visit the ‘Get Involved’ tab on our website as well as our July Group B Strep Awareness Month Pinterest board.
1 Bounty Media Survey Results 2015 – comparing results from their 2010, 2013 and 2015 Surveys – Awareness and Perception of group B Strep – conducted between 16-31 March 2015. Base survey 4,673 interviews, women in early stages of pregnancy and youngest child 12 months.