Pregnancy Home > All About Labor Medications


Antibiotics aren't routinely used during labor or delivery, except in a few specific situations. Obviously, if you have a bacterial infection, especially an amniotic fluid infection, you'll need antibiotics right away, even if you haven't delivered yet. If you have "prolonged rupture of membranes" (you still haven't delivered more than 24 hours after your water broke), you'll also probably receive antibiotics to prevent an infection. If you have a fever during labor, you'll probably be given antibiotics.
Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacteria that can live in the vaginal or rectal areas. It can do this without causing illness or problems for a woman, but it can cause serious infections in the newborn. If you are GBS positive (or if your GBS status is unknown), you'll receive antibiotics during labor and delivery to help prevent a dangerous infection in the newborn. Somewhere near the end of pregnancy, your doctor will do a GBS test with a quick and painless swab of the vagina and rectum to check if you have the bacteria or not.
Your baby will also get an antibiotic eye ointment (usually erythromycin) soon after birth to prevent ophthalmia neonatorum, an eye infection that can lead to blindness.

Postpartum Medications

While not exactly labor medications, postpartum medications deserve a mention as well. In the moments or days after delivery, some of the most commonly used types of medications include:
  • Oxytocin, which is given after delivery of the placenta to help the uterus contract and firm up to limit bleeding
  • Medications to stop excessive or dangerous uterine bleeding
  • Nausea medications
  • Pain medications
  • Laxatives and/or stool softeners
  • A numbing spray for your vaginal region
  • Lanolin ointment for sore, cracked nipples
  • Antibiotics, if you develop an infection
  • Sleep medications.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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