Just because you contracted genital herpes at one point or another does not mean you have to abstain from having a baby for the rest of your life. As long as you take the proper precautions, you can have a safe and natural delivery with no complications. Of course, you should make sure your doctor and obstetrician are well aware of the fact that you have genital herpes when you conceive so that they can help you have a healthy birth.

When you have genital herpes, you will go through phases of outbreaks. When you have an outbreak, it is considered a “shedding virus,” and it is contagious only during that time. Unless you actually contract the infection while you are pregnant and transmit it through the placenta, there is almost no chance that you will transmit herpes to your baby while you are not having an outbreak. However, if you are experiencing an outbreak and it’s time to give birth, you’ll need to have a cesarean section.

If you give birth vaginally during a herpes outbreak your baby could suffer from serious complications. He or she could get sores and blisters all over the body, and in some cases the herpes might attack the nervous system and put your baby’s life in danger. He or she will have seizures, a fever, lethargy, and a lack of interest in eating. Unfortunately, many of these babies die before they reach one year of age. Even if the infection does not prove to be fatal, the blisters and skin lesions will be painful for your baby and you’ll need to administer medication in hope that the infection will go away for good. Studies show that in many cases, the infection becomes recurrent for children born to mothers who were having a herpes outbreak.

If you know that you have genital herpes when you become pregnant, keep track of your outbreaks. When it’s time to go into labor, you should have your doctor make sure that you are not in an infection period. Sometimes, you might not even have symptoms but still be contagious. Sometimes, it is safer for you to have a cesarean just in case the outbreak is going undetected.

Source: Elena Anzivino et al: Herpes Simplex Virus Infection In Pregnancy And In Neonate: Status Of Art Of Epidemiology, Diagnosis, Therapy And Prevention. Virology Journal Volume 6 Issue 40 2009

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