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I’m 36 weeks pregnant and just got a herpes outbreak! Will my baby be OK?
I’ve had genital herpes for three years with few outbreaks. Now I’m 36-weeks pregnant and have an outbreak for the first time in more than a year! Is it possible to have a safe pregnancy and delivery?
Terri Warren, MS, RN, ANP on August 25, 2011
I can certainly understand your concern for your baby, and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.
The good news is that you’ve probably developed a strong immune response to the herpes virus. You mentioned that you've had genital herpes for three years...that’s plenty of time to develop a great immune response that gets passed on to your baby and will help protect it from getting a herpes infection.
That said, I would encourage you to talk to your doctor right away about herpes medication for the last part of your pregnancy. A common plan for pregnant women with herpes is to put them on daily antiviral therapy from around the time they’re at 34-36 weeks until their baby is born.
This therapy reduces the risk of having a herpes outbreak at the time of delivery, and also reduces the amount of virus that might be present in the genital area (even if there is no outbreak).
With these precautions, it’s generally safe to have a vaginal delivery if there is no outbreak at the time of labor. If there is an outbreak, then a C-section is done to protect the baby.
Bottom line? It’s absolutely possible and probable that you will have a safe pregnancy and delivery. However, it's really important that your obstetrician know your herpes status so they can prescribe the medicine correctly and also look very carefully for outbreaks at the time of delivery. To learn more about herpes treatment, visit our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2.
Thanks again for sharing your concern, and I wish you a safe and healthy delivery.
Warren is a Nurse Practitioner and owner of Westover Heights Clinic in Oregon. She is a renown expert and author in the field of genital herpes research, diagnosis and treatment. Warren was educated at Oregon Health and Sciences University and the University of Portland.