While herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, it can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her unborn child. Transmission of herpes through mother to child is usually very rare, so if you have herpes, it is unlikely that your child will necessarily have it too. The most difficult situation would be if you get infected with the virus during the later months of your pregnancy. When an unborn baby catches herpes from its mother, the condition is known as neonatal herpes. With some extra care, you can make sure that both you and your baby remain fine through the pregnancy.
When is Your Baby Likely to Be Affected?
If you were infected before you became pregnant, your baby is most likely to be fine. This is because during the time that you were infected, your body would have made antibodies, and these would fight off the virus before it can harm your baby. Even if you have an outbreak during late pregnancy, or if you are having an outbreak when you give birth, your baby is still likely to be safe. If you contract herpes during the first trimester, it can have a negative effect on your unborn baby. Most women who have just contracted the disease would most likely have a miscarriage. If you get infected during the first trimester, immediately see your doctor, who will then refer you to specialist care. You will be given proper antiviral medications to improve your symptoms and prevent shedding of the virus. The worst case scenario is if you get infected in late pregnancy. This is a real cause for worry because your baby may catch the virus from you. The likelihood of transmission increases if you have a vaginal delivery, in which case the baby may catch the virus from an open sore.
How Can Your Baby Be Affected?
If your baby contracts the infection from you, there are two ways the infection could manifest. Some babies are born with sores or rashes on their skin, mouth or eyes. These types of infections are easy to treat and can be easily treated using antiviral medication. If the infection is more serious, it could affect the baby’s central nervous system. There is some treatment available for such infections, but even though the treatment may be successful, your baby may still sustain some nerve damage.
Prevention and Precautions
If you have been diagnosed with herpes, this could be really helpful because you can prepare for your pregnancy accordingly. You should keep visiting your doctor regularly and look out for signs of infection. If you want, you can ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist, who can give you antiviral medications to prevent transmission of the infection. If you have lesions during the last trimester, schedule a c-section with your doctor. A c-section ensures that your baby would not get infected through your open sores at the time of birth. If you do not have any lesions at the time of birth, you can easily have a vaginal delivery without any worries.
If you have a partner with genital herpes, it is important to avoid any sexual contact during your pregnancy. Since the danger to your unborn baby is most when if the transmission occurs during pregnancy, it is best to take all possible precautions by consulting with a doctor.