Herpes and Pregnancy

It is important to tell the doctor caring for you in pregnancy if you have had herpes. Herpes can infect a newborn child if the birth canal has an active herpes infection at the time of the delivery of the baby. A caesarean section may be recommended by obstetricians to prevent the virus passing from the mother’s skin to the baby’s skin. This is rarely needed however and is more likely to happen when herpes is caught for the first time late in the pregnancy.

If the mother has herpes but the infection is not active, there is no virus in the birth canal to infect the baby. If a woman gets herpes for the first time during pregnancy there can be severe complications for her unborn baby. Women who have had herpes before the pregnancy have protective antibodies which are passed to the baby. This makes it very unlikely that the baby will be infected.