Genital Herpes and Pregnancy
Oral Herpes and Pregnancy
If you have an outbreak of oral herpes while you are pregnant, don't worry. It shouldn't harm your pregnancy. However, after birth, if you have a cold sore, don't kiss your baby until it has healed completely to prevent giving the baby the infection.
Low risk during pregnancy if you have genital Herpes
If you get genital herpes for the first time during your first three months of pregnancy, there’s a small risk of miscarriage.
High risk during pregnancy if you have genital Herpes
If you get genital herpes for the first time later in your pregnancy, particularly within six weeks of giving birth, there won’t be enough time for your immune system to protect your baby. You’ll be offered a caesarean section for the birth, so that your baby doesn't come into contact with any active sores. With a vaginal birth, the risk of passing on a newly caught infection to the baby is about 4 in 10 (40%). If a baby becomes infected at birth, the condition is called neonatal herpes. In the UK, this condition is very rare, affecting 1-2 in every 100,000 babies born. Neonatal herpes can cause infection in the baby’s skin, eyes, brain and other organs.
How does herpes affect the process of getting pregnant? I have herpes before pregnancy.
If you get genital herpes for the first time before you become pregnant, you’ll have antibodies to the virus. You’re unlikely to need a caesarean section, even if you get more attacks while you’re pregnant, because the antibodies will protect your unborn baby. The risk of passing an infection to your baby during a vaginal birth is very low, estimated to be around 1-3%. However, if you have active sores when your labour starts, your doctor or midwife will discuss the birth with you, so you can decide how you want your baby to be born.
Genital Herpes Treatment During Pregnancy
Women taking antiviral drugs for herpes -- either daily suppressive therapy or occasional therapy for outbreaks -- should consult their doctor about whether to take the drugs during pregnancy. The answer is not set in stone: You and your doctor have to discuss the risks and benefits to decide what's right for you.
Herpes infection in a newborn is also serious. Do not allow anyone with a cold sore on the mouth to kiss the baby. If you have a cold sore, don't kiss the baby, and wash hands with soap and water before touching the baby.