Protect Your Baby from Group B Strep!
Protect your baby from group B strep. If you're 35-37 weeks pregnant, ask your doctor or nurse about a group B strep test.
If you are pregnant, ask your doctor or nurse for a group B strep (GBS) test when you are 35–37 weeks pregnant. The test will let you know if you are carrying group B streptococcal bacteria, which you can pass to your baby during childbirth. If you have GBS, your baby can get very sick and even die if you are not tested and treated.
Preventing Group B Strep
Each time you are pregnant, you need to be tested for GBS. It doesn't matter if you did or did not have this type of bacteria before; each pregnancy is different. The test is an easy swab of the vagina and rectum that should not hurt.
Prevent GBS is a free app available for iOS and Android devices that lets healthcare providers easily access patient-specific group B strep guidance from anywhere and at any time.
If the test shows that you are carrying the bacteria, you will be given medicine during labor to stop GBS from spreading to your baby. The antibiotic (usually penicillin) is given to you through an IV (in the vein) during childbirth. If you are allergic to penicillin, there are other ways to help treat you during labor. If you think you might have a C-section or go into labor early (prematurely), talk with your doctor or nurse about your personal GBS plan.
Antibiotics taken before labor will not protect your baby against GBS. The bacteria can grow back so fast that taking the medicine before you begin labor does not prevent the bacteria from spreading to your baby during childbirth.
Other people in the house, including other children, are not at risk of getting sick from GBS.
What You Can Do Before Labor
- Ask your doctor or nurse for a GBS test when you are 35–37 weeks pregnant.
- If you are allergic to penicillin or other antibiotics, make sure to tell your doctor or nurse about any reactions you have had.
- If your test shows that you carry the bacteria, talk with your doctor or nurse about a plan for labor.
- Continue your regular check-ups, and always call your doctor or nurse if you have any problems.
When Your Water Breaks or When You Go into Labor
If you have not had your GBS test when labor starts, remind the staff that you do not know your GBS status.
If you are a GBS carrier:
- Go to the hospital. The antibiotics work best if you get them for at least 4 hours before you deliver.
- Tell the labor and delivery staff at the hospital that you are a GBS carrier.
- Speak up if you are allergic to penicillin.
- Expect to get IV antibiotics (medicine through the vein) during labor.
And remember, breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby, even if you have tested positive for GBS.
Who Can Be a GBS Carrier?
GBS bacteria are commonly found in healthy women of all races and ethnicities. In fact, about 1 in 4 women in the United States carry these bacteria.
What Does Being a GBS Carrier Mean?
Being a carrier for GBS bacteria does not mean you have an infection. It only means you have these bacteria in your body. You would not feel sick or have any symptoms. These bacteria are usually not harmful to you—only to your baby during childbirth or soon after being born.
Carrying GBS bacteria also does not mean that you are not clean, and it does not mean that you have a sexually transmitted disease. The bacteria are not spread from food, sex, water, or anything that you might have come into contact with. These bacteria can come and go naturally in the body.
- Get a free brochure on GBS
- Download or listen to a podcast
- Send a Health-e-Card
- Healthy Pregnancy Information from CDC
- Preventing Group B Strep
Information for patients, hospital and healthcare providers, laboratory personnel, and state and local health departments about how to prevent GBS
- Page last reviewed: July 14, 2014
- Page last updated: July 14, 2014
- Content source:
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Bacterial Diseases
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs