Having herpes during pregnancy could be a very precarious issue for the expecting mother as she is constantly struggling through the labyrinth of keeping their kids safe from the herpes outbreak. Well, the good news is: It’s not as bad as you may have been told. There are a few of different scenarios that can alter the risk of your baby contracting the infection.
In this post, we will be answering a few different FAQs that expecting mothers with herpes are usually looking for.
1. I have genital herpes – how is it going to affect my baby?
Herpes can show up in newborns in a few different ways:
- Skin, eye, and mouth infections (SEM)
A baby with SEM at the time of delivery could experience sores as much as up to six weeks later. However, the symptoms usually become visible within the first or second week.
With SEM, your baby can have blisters anywhere on their body. However, they are more common around baby’s skin with minor bruise or injury (like the area under the hospital wristband). If your newborn has SEM, don’t worry, because there aren’t any developmental problems associated with it as long as it's treated right away with an intravenous acyclovir.
- Central Nervous system (CNS) disease
This a slightly more serious case as CNS disease could cause fever, irritability, poor feeding, lethargy and even seizures in the baby. Around one-third of newborns contract herpes that affects CNS; the symptoms, however, could take around one to two weeks to show up and sometimes, even more.
- Disseminated disease
The chances of your baby contracting the Disseminated disease from herpes is around 25 percent. Disseminated disease is life threatening as it affects body's vital organs like the liver and lungs. The symptoms usually show up in the first week but it’s quite tricky to diagnose them because the sores necessarily don't develop by that time.
2. Can I have a vaginal delivery if I have herpes?
Well, it depends on when you contracted the infection. Women who contract the infection before their third trimester or those before pregnancy develop antibodies against the infection which are transferred to the baby through the placenta. Also, if no signs of herpes show up when your water breaks or your labor starts, then your doctor will have an examination to check if it’s safe for you to have a vaginal delivery. Moreover, the risk of your baby contracting the disease is just around 1 percent in this case.
Alternatively, if your body is showing the symptoms of the outbreak, then you are more likely to have a cesarean delivery. The usual signs of the outbreak include sores on the vagina, cervix or other painful symptoms like burning and tingling.
If your delivery is going to take place during the first outbreak of herpes, your risk of transmitting the disease to your newborn rise up to 50 percent.