Protect Your Baby from Group B Strep!
All pregnant women should get a group B strep test when they are 35–37 weeks pregnant. Babies can get very sick and even die if their mothers pass group B strep bacteria to them during childbirth.
If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor or midwife about getting a group B strep (GBS) test. CDC recommends getting it when you are 35–37 weeks pregnant. The test shows if you are carrying group B streptococcal bacteria, which you can pass to your baby during childbirth. If you carry this bacteria, you need an antibiotic during labor to keep your baby from getting sick.
Preventing Group B Strep
Each time you are pregnant, you need to get a GBS test. 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. There are no risks to you or your baby from a GBS test.
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, your doctor or midwife will give you an antibiotic during labor. You will get the antibiotic (usually penicillin) through an IV (in the vein). If you are allergic to penicillin, there are other antibiotics 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 midwife. Together, you can make a personal GBS plan.
Taking antibiotics before you go into labor will not protect your baby because the bacteria can grow back quickly. CDC recommends taking the medicine during labor in order to prevent the bacteria from spreading to your baby during childbirth.
What You Can Do Before Labor
Talk with your doctor or midwife about getting a GBS test when you are 35–37 weeks pregnant.
- If you test negative for GBS, you do not need to do anything more.
- If you test positive for GBS, talk with your doctor or midwife about a plan for labor.
- You will get IV antibiotics during labor. If you are allergic to penicillin or other antibiotics, make sure to tell your doctor or midwife.
Continue your regular check-ups, and always call your doctor or midwife if you have any problems.
When Your Water Breaks or When You Go into Labor
If you have not had the GBS test when labor starts, tell the labor and delivery staff.
If you tested positive for GBS:
- Go to the hospital and expect to get IV antibiotics during labor. 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 tested positive for GBS.
- Tell the labor and delivery staff if you are allergic to penicillin.
Talk with your doctor about a GBS test when you are 35-37 weeks pregnant.
What is GBS?
It is a common type of bacteria. GBS bacteria are often found in the vagina and rectum of healthy women of all races and ethnicities. In fact, about 1 out of 4 women in the United States carry this type of bacteria. These bacteria can come and go naturally in the body.
What Does It Mean to “Test Positive” for GBS?
If you test positive, that 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. GBS are usually not harmful to you. However, GBS can make your newborn sick if you pass these bacteria to your baby during childbirth. Other people that live with you, including other children, are not at risk of getting sick from GBS. Testing positive for GBS does not mean that you are not clean. It also 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.
- Get a free brochure on GBS
- Download or listen to a podcast
- 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 10, 2017
- Page last updated: July 10, 2017
- 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