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What soon-to-be mums need to know about herpes

Posted in Sexual Health 20 Jan, 2012

As a mum you’ll want to do everything in your power to protect the health of you and your newborn. There might be questions bothering you, for which answers are hard to find. Your concerns regarding the health of your baby are understandable, especially if you have herpes, but with the full information at-hand you can clear your mind and consider ways to sidestep any previous worries.

Risk of herpes to the unborn baby

If truth be told, it is very important to carefully manage genital herpes during pregnancy for the health of the foetus. However, there is no need to be overly worried about it. Research has found that if a woman had genital herpes before getting pregnant, the chance that her baby will be infected is less than 1%. Same is the case when a woman is infected early in pregnancy.

On the contrary, if a woman is infected by the virus late on in her pregnancy then the risk of infecting the baby increases to about 30% to 50%. If you catch herpes in the last six weeks of pregnancy, chances are high that your baby can catch the virus, during a normal birth. Herpes in infants, billed as neonatal herpes, is rare, infecting one or two babies in every 100,000 in the UK.

A natural birth or caesarean?

It’s the most common question that rises in the mind of mums-to-be with genital herpes. If it is not your first herpes infection then you should be able to have a vaginal birth, but if it is your first attack during your pregnancy then you will be advised to have caesarean section. Women, who were infected with genital herpes before they became pregnant, can go for vaginal birth without any worry.

Planned caesarean delivery is generally advised to women, who develop genital herpes for the first time in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy. It is essential to let your doctor know about your herpes infection before going into labour, so that they can help you decide how to give birth.

Ways to avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy

If you don’t have a history of genital herpes then take special precautions to stay infection-free, particularly in the last trimester. In case your partner has herpes, avoid intercourse and oral-genital contact in the third trimester. Health experts advise all pregnant women to be tested for herpes, especially if their partners have herpes. Hence, it is important to ask your doctor, whether you need to be tested or not.

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