Ouch! There’s nothing worse than being sick with a sore throat when you’re pregnant and already feeling crummy. If you suspect you might have strep throat during pregnancy, the first rule of thumb is to take care of yourself, and the second rule is to relax – it should not hurt the baby.
While strep throat (named after the Group A streptococcus bacteria that causes it) most frequently targets young children, adults can get it too. Strep throat is characterized by an extremely sore throat, often accompanied by a fever, swollen neck glands, and sometimes white bumps on the tonsils. Strep throat is treated with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria that are causing the infection.
If you suspect you have strep throat – especially if you are running a fever – you should check in with your doctor. She will most likely give you a “strep test” (a simple throat culture collected by a swab to the tonsils) to determine if it is in fact a strep infection. (Sometimes you can have a viral infection that causes a sore throat and is accompanied by sneezing, running nose, etc., but this is different than strep throat, which is a bacterial infection.) If the doctor determines that you have strep throat, you should get treatment, preferably antibiotics, as soon as possible. And of course, you should get plenty of rest so that your body is able to heal properly.
Strep throat can sound alarming to pregnant women because it is sometimes confused with a different and unrelated bacteria known as Group B streptococcus. Group B streptococcus is a type of infection found in the vaginal or rectal area that the mother can pass along to her baby during delivery. Most women are screened between the 35th and 37th week for the presence of this infection. (It is not a sexually transmitted disease.) It is a relatively common infection, and even if you have it, you will not necessarily pass it to your child. And again, despite the similarity of the names, Group B streptococcus is not related to the bacteria that causes strep throat.
So if you have a sore throat, particularly if it accompanied by a fever, check in with your doctor so you can get it taken care of quickly. But don’t worry that you will pass it on to your baby. Just take care of yourself so that your body can get all of the energy it needs to keep you and your baby healthy.