Medicine For Babies: 3 Medications Given To Newborn Babies After Delivery

It’s almost time. You are probably deep in the throes of nesting, packing hospital bags, finalizing birth plans, and taking hospital tours. There are so many tasks, appointments, and decisions as you near the end of your pregnancy. Some decisions and topics to consider are breast versus bottle feeding, what medicine for babies will be administered at the hospital, and labor pain control options.

Although you cannot be 100% ready for your baby’s delivery, preparing and educating yourself may help you defend against the anxiety that can creep in at this time. To better prepare for your delivery and postpartum experience, here is information about medicine for babies and what is typically administered to your baby post-delivery. Along with education try to squeeze in some last-minute pampering as well!

Medicine For Babies: Erythromycin Drops

Medicine For Babies: 3 Medications Given To Newborn Babies After Delivery

You may have noticed that newborn babies look like they have been crying. You go to snuggle them and their eyes appear wet with tears. Actually, babies at this age produce very few tears, if any at all. The clear, wet substance is probably erythromycin ointment. Erythromycin ointment is an antibiotic medication that is used for the baby’s eyes after making their grand entrance into the world. Erythromycin is given to babies in their eyes prophylactically (before an infection occurs) to help fight the bacteria their eyes may have been exposed to in the birth canal. Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and other viruses and bacteria can cause your baby problems if not treated with this medicine for babies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause conjunctivitis in newborns. The Mayo Clinic states that exposure to bacteria in the birth canal can lead to a serious form of conjunctivitis known as ophthalmia neonatorum or neonatal conjunctivitis. This condition can lead to blindness. Although many women that have had prenatal care often know if they have STIs (sexually transmitted infections), such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, these can also be asymptomatic (exist with no symptoms) or can be acquired after testing is performed during their pregnancy. In addition, other viruses and bacteria can lead to newborn conjunctivitis according to the CDC.

Medicine For Babies: 3 Medications Given To Newborn Babies After Delivery

Erythromycin, or similar antibiotic medication, is typically administered in the baby’s eyes within the first hour after delivery. By law, many states require this medication for babies. The administration of erythromycin ointment is used to prevent irreversible damage to the eyes. And heaven knows we love those precious little eyes. The CDC makes us aware that this medication for babies can sometimes cause swelling and irritation of their eyes called chemical conjunctivitis. Chemical conjunctivitis from erythromycin eye ointment does not need treatment and typically resolves in 24-36 hours. Don’t fret. Chemical conjunctivitis does not cause long term problems for your little’s eyes.

Read More: ABC’s Of Safe Sleep For Infants

Medicine For Babies: Vitamin K

Medicine For Babies: 3 Medications Given To Newborn Babies After Delivery

Another medicine for babies that is administered post-delivery is a vitamin K injection. Although vitamin K is not technically considered a medication, it is administered as if it is one in the hospital. Vitamin K is given to babies in their muscle to help with clotting. states that vitamin K is a nutrient that everyone gets from the food they eat or from their intestinal flora (good bacteria that lives in your gut). As you know, your baby has not had any food to acquire vitamin K. According to the CDC, due to not having actual food intake in utero, their bellies were not able to develop intestinal flora. Unfortunately, they do not receive enough vitamin K through breastmilk to aid in clotting.

You may have given your sweet little one your blue eyes or blond hair, but you did not give them all the vitamin K that they need to help with clotting. That’s ok! The solution to this is the administration of a medicine for babies called a vitamin K injection. A shot of vitamin K is given shortly after birth and gives babies what they need to clot and stop bleeding in dangerous places, such as, their brain and other organs. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, if babies do not receive the vitamin K injection they are 80 times more likely to experience bleeding that can result in long term disability or death.

Read More: How Long To Breastfeed Your New Baby

Medicine For Babies: Hepatitis B

Medicine For Babies: 3 Medications Given To Newborn Babies After Delivery

The third routine medicine for babies given prior to going home from the hospital is the hepatitis B vaccine. This medication is probably familiar to you. This is the first of a three or four-shot series. states that hepatitis b is a virus that can cause fever, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, liver damage/cancer, and possibly death. The hepatitis B vaccine is an important medicine for babies. The CDC suggests that babies get the hepatitis B vaccine shots at birth, 1-2 months of age, and 6-18 months of age. If your baby does not receive the hepatitis B vaccine prior to leaving the hospital, the CDC recommends that it is given as soon as possible.

Read More: 6 Simple Tips To Prepare For Postpartum Care

Congratulations on your upcoming addition and joining the mom club. As always, medical decisions should be discussed with your health care provider. There are exceptions to the general recommendations. Educating yourself about medicine for babies can stimulate conversations with health care providers and can help you make informed decisions for you and your baby.


Don’t get caught with your pants not in the bag. Here are Hospital Bag Necessities.

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Medicine For Babies: 3 Medications Given To Newborn Babies After Delivery

Sources:,,, University of Rochester Medical Center

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Amanda Armstrong
Amanda Armstrong
Amanda resides in Raleigh, NC with her husband and two children. She has taken a break from being a pediatric/NICU nurse to be a stay-at-home mom and personal chauffeur to her rambunctious daughter and playful son. Amanda enjoys learning photography, antiquing, trout fishing, and decorating.