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The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria. Infections caused by bacteria include:

Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause the infection. The infection may reoccur after using the antibiotics. If this happens, a repeat course of antibiotics may be necessary. Some people may continue to develop symptoms and complications of the infection even after the bacteria are killed.

Below are examples of antibiotics used to treat infections in pregnancy.

  • Amoxicillin (Amoxil, Polymox, Trimox, Wymox)—This is a type of penicillin antibiotic. It comes as a capsule, a tablet, a chewable tablet, and a suspension (liquid).
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin)—If you are taking the liquid form of clindamycin, use a specially marked measuring spoon to measure each dose correctly. The average household teaspoon may not hold the right amount of liquid.
  • Ceftriaxone (Rocephin), Cephalexin ( Keflex ), Cefazolin (Ancef)—These are cephalosporin antibiotics. Some are given in a pill form and others are injected.
  • Azithromycin (Zithromax), Erythromycin (Erythro, Erythrocin, Ilosone)—These drugs are called macrolides. They are used for a variety of bacterial infections.

Possible side effects of all antibiotics include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Allergic reaction, including skin rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing

If you have been in close contact with someone who has chickenpox, you may get an injection of a medication called varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG). When you get VZIG within 72 hours after exposure to chickenpox, it can help prevent chickenpox or make the infection less severe. This treatment is safe for you and your developing baby.

Infection with herpes virus is treated with acyclovir. This medication can also be used to prevent an outbreak during pregnancy. Women who are infected with HIV should talk to their doctor about which antiviral medications are appropriate.

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take your medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share them.
  • Know what the results and side effects may be. Report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medication and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.

Talk with your doctor before using over-the-counter medications to treat an infection. There are some over-the-counter medications that are not safe to use during pregnancy.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is generally safe to use during pregnancy. It may ease symptoms of an infection. Other pain relievers, such as ibuprofen , naproxen , aspirin , should be avoided during pregnancy unless under medical supervision. These medications especially need to be avoided late in pregnancy.


Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/bacterialvaginosis-2.html. Updated May 2005. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Chorioamnionitis. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/3800/3857.asp?index=12309. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and congenital CMV infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cmv/index.html. Updated July 28, 2010. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Group B Strep (GBS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/index.html. Updated May 23, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Listeria and pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/listeria.html. Updated June 2011. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Nielsen GL, Sorensen HT, et al. Risk of adverse birth outcome and miscarriage in pregnant users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: population based observation study and case-control study. BMJ. 2001;322:266-270.

Pregnancy and HBV: FAQ. Hepatitis B Foundation website. Available at: http://www.hepb.org/patients/pregnant_women.htm. Updated October 18, 2013. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Pregnancy and fifth disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parvovirusB19/pregnancy.html. Updated February 14, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2013.

STDs and pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/default.htm. Updated July 10, 2013, Accessed July 29, 2013.

Toxoplasmosis. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/toxoplasmosis.html. Updated January 2011. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Urinary tract infection during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/utiduringpreg.html. Updated April 2006. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Varicella. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated April 13, 2013. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Last reviewed July 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD; Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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