IT’S an image Kimberley Wiggins can’t out of her head.
As a first-time mum she had cherished the birth of son Frank.
But a matter of hours later he was rushed away from her and she found herself staring at him through a neonatal ward window.
“We weren’t allowed in and were looking in on this tiny baby, stripped down to his nappy in an incubator,” recalled Kimberley, 23.
“He had an IV drip and a heart rate monitor coming out of him. There was a big X-ray machine over him.
“It was just horrible. I was so scared and I’ll never ever forget that scene.”
Kimberley, from Glasgow, stood there fearing the baby she’d longed for was going to die and wondering how on earth it had come to this.
The deadly danger that little Frank faced was due to group B Strep. It’s the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies and meningitis in babies aged up to three months.
It’s passed from mother to baby during labour and birth.
Kimberley, though, was oblivious to the hazards.
“My husband Frank and I were living in Aberdeen and I got a hospital check at 17 weeks,” she explains.
“I had a swab test to rule out infection and it turned out that had picked up the group B Strep.
“But the community midwife wasn’t informed and I wasn’t told either, so I had no idea anything was wrong.”
Up to 30% of women carry group B Strep, usually without harm. But once those at risk are identified, giving intravenous antibiotics during labour can reduce infection in the baby by up to 90%.
But Kimberley had been in labour for the best part of a day before it was noticed on the hospital records that she had tested positive for group B Strep.
At first all seemed well after the birth but Frank’s temperature shot up then his breathing rate doubled as they were about to be discharged.
He was rushed away from Kimberley for urgent care. Fortunately, after a few awful days, the antibiotics took effect and Frank was brought back from the brink.
Not all babies are so lucky. Jane Plumb founded charity Group B Strep Support after the death of her son Theo.
And Kimberley says she feels incredibly fortunate that Frank, who will turn three in October, survived.
“I’m not religious, but I remember thanking God as I took him home.
“I didn’t sleep for about three weeks, staring at him in case something happened. And I kept thinking that if his symptoms had started after we had left the hospital he wouldn’t be here now as I wouldn’t have known they were so serious.”
Kimberley had a second baby, Archie, who just turned one yesterday.
But despite guidelines saying she should automatically be offered antibiotics, she says she still had to fight for them, hence her backing for the current awareness month.
“I was going in as an expectant mother and had to educate midwives.
“That’s infuriating and needs to change.”
The Group B Strep Support charity’s website is at www.gbss.org.uk