There are many expectant mothers who are afraid of having their unborn babies be infected with herpes. It is mostly because of the fatal effects that this infection can do to the baby. It is just right that they should be careful about passing herpes to their unborn child, but they don’t have to be overly worried about it. Let us first take a look at genital herpes, and what is the relationship between pregnancy and herpes?
There are two types of herpes simplex virus; this is the virus that causes genital herpes infection. The first on is the HSV-1 or Type 1, this is the usual cause of oral herpes. The lips and mouth of a person infected with HSV-1 develops fever blisters or cold sores. The second type is the HSV-2 or type 2; this is the one responsible for genital herpes.
The herpes virus, specifically the HSV-2, thrives in the nerves. An active infection is when the virus goes to the surface of the infected area either the skin or mucous membranes and creates copies of itself. This stage is called the shedding phase because this is the time that the virus is more infectious and can easily be transferred to another person. After this phase, the virus goes back down to the nerve tissue and lies dormant for some time.
The baby can be infected fatally with genital herpes by the mother. However there’s only a chance of less than 1% for the baby to be infected if the mother already had genital herpes before she got pregnant, or if she was just infected during the early stage of her pregnancy. The risk of infection on the other hand increases to as high as 30% to 50% when the mother is already in the late stages of her pregnancy when she was infected with herpes. This is because the immune system of the mother hasn’t developed its immunity against the virus. Whereas, the body of a woman with older herpes have already developed antibodies against the virus, that can help protect the babies and herpes infection can be prevented.
A cesarean section or C-section is the preferred method of delivery if signs and symptoms of herpes like lesions or sores are found in the vaginal area at the time of delivery. So it is important that you tell your doctor right away if you’re pregnant with herpes virus infection. You can prevent being infected with herpes by being careful about sex during the third trimester or late stages of pregnancy. You can also have yourself and your partner be tested for herpes to rule out any possible infection while expecting for your baby to be born.