Having HSV-1 or HSV-2 increases the risk of having a miscarriage during pregnancy, having premature labor and it also increases the possibility that your baby could have serious complications if exposed the virus. Between 20 and 25% of all pregnant women may have herpes, but of those, only about 0.01% will experience complications dring the pregnancy itself.
If you get herpes during the first trimester of pregnancy, it's unlikely you will have any serious problems. Your body will produce antibodies to the HSV-2 and those antibodies will get passed on to the baby and provide some protection. If you already have HSV2, then as soon as you get pregnant you would also hand off antibodies to your as yet unborn child. If you have HSV-1, the antibodies are not thought to offer as much protection.
If you get herpes in the last trimester or very late in pregnancy then you and the baby will have the highest risk of complications mostly because there is not enough time for you to develop and pass on the antibodies. And the biggest risk to the baby is during the actual birthing process. If you have an outbreak of herpes and have active lesions as the baby is beginning to pass through the vaginal birthing canal, the newborn will more than likely become infected with the herpes virus. Unfortunately it is not considered safe to take any of the anti-viral medications during pregnancy - these drugs are considered Class B drugs, which means that they can cause complications to the unborn baby. A C-section delivery is probably your best option, though some experts feel that if there is no sign of an active recurrence, you can have a vaginal delivery. This is a discussion that you would have with your obstetrician.
Published On: August 17, 2008