It was only Ame Edmonds' new mum instinct which saved her daughter Lilee, now three, from death.

Ame developed the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection during labour in October 2012 and inadvertently passed it onto Lilee.

An estimated one in five pregnant women have strep B, which is normally harmless but it can be highly dangerous when passed on to a newborn.

And, in Ame’s case, she passed it on in the amniotic fluid.

Within hours of being born Lilee had developed meningitis and septicaemia and was fighting for her life.

But she survived and now Ame – who is fighting to raise awareness of the dangers of strep B – photographs her every day.

Ame, 22, of Bury-St-Edmunds, Suffolk, said: “I knew something was wrong within hours of Lilee being born. 

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“She made a strange cry. It was a horrible, guttural scream that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“I knew it wasn’t a normal newborn’s cry and she looked in agony. “By then, Lilee’s skin had developed a bluish tinge too.

“I might have been a brand new mum, but I just knew something wasn’t right. I needed someone to help my baby before it was too late.”

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Ame pleaded with the doctors for help and at just a few hours old she was given a lumbar puncture and blood tests before being rushed to intensive care.

There, Ame photographed her daughter’s tiny body in her hospital bed – and has not stopped since.
Ame, who works with Group B Strep Support, continued: “I barely left her bedside and felt so guilty I had caused her all this pain.

“From the moment I’d held the positive pregnancy test in my hands, all I’d cared about was being a mum.

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“It wasn’t how I’d hoped my first days with my daughter would be and I took endless photos, at least one a day, marking the miracle of her still being here.

“There is nothing in this world that can help prepare you for the fear and pain of seeing your baby so ill. Her life was in the balance.”

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“Over the next two-and-a-half weeks Lilee stayed in hospital and was pumped full of drugs.

“I hated seeing my baby so weak.”

Heartbroken Ame prepared herself for the worst, but amazingly after two weeks Lilee was allowed to go home.

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“The doctors said it was a miracle that Lilee had pulled through, how lucky she was to be alive and to appear not to have any noticeable disabilities as a result of her illness,” says Ame.

Had she been tested at between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy – as is routine in many developed countries - GBS is very likely to have been detected, a simple course of antibiotics would have been given to Ame in labour which would have minimised the risk of infection in her baby.  Most likely Lilee’s trauma would have been completely avoided.

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“I had never been told about GBS during my pregnancy.  The news that Lilee had contracted this devastating infection from me and it could have been so easily prevented, filled me with guilt," Ame says.

“Lilee has been through so much but has still grown into such a happy, lively little girl who loves Harry Potter.

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“I take her on days out to Alton Towers and the zoo and photograph her all the time.

“She’s my miracle.

"Looking at Lilee from she was born to now she looks so different. I love seeing her progress through the pictures.

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"It's brilliant seeing how far she has come - especially because she was so poorly when she was born. I’ve worked out that since she was born I have taken at least one photograph a day of her each day.

“It’s become a bit like a project. I plan to photograph her every day for the rest of her life.

“Lilee is my best friend and it’s all thanks to mother’s instinct she’s alive today.”


[Sidebar]

About Strep B


Group B Streptococcus is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies in the UK, usually within the first week of life, and yet the NHS does not routinely test pregnant women for this. 
The bacterium is carried by one in four pregnant women in the intestines and/or vagina and babies can become colonised with GBS around labour and birth.  Some of these babies will go on to develop GBS infections, including meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia.

Almost one newborn baby a day in the UK suffers a GBS infection; of these sick babies, one in 10 will die and a further one in 20 will suffer long-term physical or mental disabilities. Infections are up to 90% preventable when antibiotics are given in labour to women found to be carrying GBS.
Group B Strep Support [LINK TO www.gbss.org.uk] is the UK’s only charity dedicated to the prevention of GBS infection in newborn babies and campaigns for better awareness of this devastating infection.