Genital herpes in pregnancy

Genital herpes is an infection that occurs in the genital and anal area. It is a sexually transmitted infection. For women, it occurs around the vagina, the urethra and the anus. It may also occur around the mouth, nose and fingers. Pregnant women having genital herpes need to be careful but not worried about the infection being passed to the baby as the risk of it being transferred is small. The chances of risk are also related to when genital herpes has occurred to the mother, that is, before getting pregnant, during the initial term or the final term of pregnancy. It can be effectively handled but one needs to ensure that the infection is not passed to the baby else it may turn out to be fatal.

Effect of Genital herpes infection on the baby –

  • Deafness
  • Seizures
  • Damage to organ
  • Sores on the skin and genital areas

Symptoms of Genital Herpes

Some do not have any symptoms, for some it may be just a few blisters that are not very painful. For a few others it may be very painful, be sick or unwell and have watery blisters. One may also experience a burning or itching sensation around the area where the blisters can soon occur.

If you had genital herpes before getting pregnant

It will not be of any issue to the baby as the mother’s body already has enough antibodies which will protect the baby and they will also be passed to the baby through the placenta. If there are frequent flare-ups during pregnancy you may be given antiviral medicines.

When genital herpes occurs for the first time during pregnancy –

It can be treated during pregnancy. The medicines given during this time will be safe to take when pregnant or breastfeeding. If this has occurred in the initial three months of pregnancy it will not have any effect on the baby. You can have a normal delivery.

But if it has occurred in the final six weeks of pregnancy there is a risk of the infection being transmitted to the baby during labor (vaginal delivery) as enough antibodies may have not been created during this time to protect the baby. In some cases, the doctor may also suggest c-sec to help reduce the chance that the baby may get herpes. This can prevent the baby from getting in contact with the virus in the birth canal.

For a woman who has a history of genital herpes, the doctor will examine before giving birth and if they notice any signs of the outbreak they will suggest a csec. A cesarean cannot completely prevent the transmission but can help to decrease the chances of it.

If your partner has HSV avoid skin-to-skin contact between the affected areas. It would be best to avoid intercourse during the last term of pregnancy.

Things to keep in mind after delivery

After delivery, keep a watch on the baby for three weeks to ensure that the virus has not been transferred. If the baby has skin rash accompanied by fever and loss of appetite, make sure to consult with the pediatrician. Also, make sure to wash your hands every time before holding the baby and avoid anyone who has a cold sore around the mouth from kissing the baby.

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