Treating Group B Strep

Healthcare provider giving woman a pelvic exam.

Testing and treatment of group B strep during your pregnancy can help prevent your baby from becoming infected during delivery. If complications develop, specialized treatments may be needed. Early treatment gives the best chance of a positive outcome.


Testing for the bacteria is a painless process. It is done between weeks 35 and 37 of your pregnancy. For the test, your healthcare provider uses cotton swabs to take samples from your vagina and anus. These samples are sent to the lab. Your healthcare provider will receive your test results about 2 days later. Results show whether you have group B strep.


If you test positive for group B strep, you'll be treated with IV antibiotics. You may also be treated if you have not been tested but you have risk factors. Either way, treatment is not given until labor begins, unless group B strep is diagnosed in the urine. Group B strep can return after treatment, so IV antibiotics are started during labor and also given at the time of delivery. This should not affect the course of labor. After the birth, your baby will be observed in the hospital for 24 hours to 48 hours. This is to make sure that he or she has not been infected. Your baby’s blood may also be tested.


When to call your baby’s healthcare provider

In newborns, most cases of group B strep infection are detected before the mother and baby go home. But in very rare cases, a late-onset infection can happen. Call your baby’s healthcare provider right away if your baby:

  • Has a fever

  • Is refusing to feed

  • Appears stressed or is fussy and can’t be calmed

  • Has breathing difficulties

  • Has a rapid, extremely low, or irregular heart rate