Chorioamnionitis is a bacterial infection. It occurs in the membranes that surround the fetus. These membranes are called the chorion and the amnion. It is also an infection of the amniotic fluid. This fluid surrounds the fetus and protects it.

This can be a very serious condition. It requires special care from your doctor. A pregnant woman will need to deliver her baby immediately. This is for the welfare of both the mother and the baby.

Birthing Complications: Intrauterine (Uterine) Infection

© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


Bacterial infections causes this condition. Infection may begin in the mother’s genital tract. Bacteria then moves up to the fetal membranes. It then moves into the amniotic sac and its fluid. There it can then pass to the fetus. Many types of bacteria may cause this infection.

Risk Factors

The following factors increase your chance of developing chorioamnionitis:


Some symptoms include the following:

  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate in both the mother and the fetus
  • A tender uterus
  • Smelly discharge from the vagina
  • Maternal leukocytosis—an increased number of white blood cells in the mother’s blood
  • Bacteria, white cells and low amounts of glucose in amniotic fluid (determined by amniocentesis)


The infection is diagnosed by the symptoms. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may also include the following:

  • Blood tests from the mother. These are done to check her blood cell count and to check for infection.
  • Amniocentesis —a needle is inserted through the mother’s abdomen. A sample of the amniotic fluid is drawn out. The fluid is examined for bacteria, inflammatory cells and glucose levels.


Antibiotics should begin as soon as an infection is found. It may be held off if the mother is about to deliver her baby.


The baby will need to be delivered. A cesarean section (c-section) may be needed if:

  • A vaginal delivery would take too long.
  • If the mother shows signs of becoming more ill.
  • The baby shows signs of distress.


For the Mother

The antibiotics will be given. They will be delivered directly into a vein by IV. Antibiotics may include a combination of:

Antibiotics will be continued until the mother is without a fever for 48 hours.

For the Baby

After delivery, the baby will be watched for infection. They will be looked after by specialists. A neonatologists only works with newborns. The baby may receive antibiotics. The baby will also be observed for 48 hours.


To help reduce your chances of developing chorioamnionitis, take the following steps:

  • Attend regular prenatal check-ups:
    • Contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Get tested for GBS infection:
    • This is done during your 35th-37th week.
    • If you have GBS, you will need to receive antibiotics during labor and delivery.
    • Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any antibiotics.
  • Prevent bacterial vaginosis (BV):
    • Don’t have sex.
    • Limit the number of sexual partners.
    • Do not douche. Douching is also associated with BV.