Herpes and Pregnancy

Herpes and Pregnancy

We are all adults here and while the word ‘herpes’ may cause shame and embarrassment, the truth is it more common than you think. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the reality is that as many as two thirds of the population is likely infected with some form of herpes.

What is it?

Essentially, herpes is a virus that lies dormant in your body until you are under stress or turmoil, or your immune system is compromised. For most people afflicted with herpes who receive medical attention, controlling the spread of the disease and managing the disease become a part of daily life. These people can live long, healthy and sexually-active lives without much backlash.

Will it harm my baby?

For women living with herpes who are pregnant, the biggest risk is passing the virus to their baby. This occurs if you are newly infected during the third trimester of pregnancy, or if you are having an outbreak when you go into labor. According to the CDC, women who have herpes under control, and who are not having an active infection during labor and delivery have less than a 1% chance of passing the virus to their baby. On the flip side, if the virus is ‘shedding’ or otherwise active during labor – many doctors will suggest that you have a cesarean birth to avoid infecting your baby. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends all women 36 weeks pregnant with a history of herpes take an oral anti-viral medication during the last month of pregnancy to lessen any chances that you will have an active infection when labor starts. This medication is considered safe for pregnant women, with no known side effects to your developing baby.

What can I do if I have herpes?

The biggest thing is for you to be honest with your practitioner during your pregnancy. While you may feel embarrassed, your doctor has likely dealt with a large number of pregnant women who have herpes. So if you have it – even if you haven’t had an infection for years – tell your doctor. This way when you have your exams, your provider can check for active lesions and you can be armed with the information you need to protect your baby.

The good news is that after your initial herpes infection, your body develops anti-bodies to the virus. These antibodies are passed onto your baby in the placenta, which is why experts believe your risk of passing the virus to your baby is low. Still, erring on the side of caution is your best defense. If you are having a difficult pregnancy that leaves you with fatigue or weakens your immune system, remember that an outbreak is highly possible. If you get an infection during pregnancy, call your physician for guidance. Above all, take strides to take care of yourself during pregnancy.

Written By Stef, Mom of 4 @Momspirational

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.