Becoming pregnant is a major concern for every woman who has herpes because it is possible to transmit herpes to the newborn infant causing neonatal herpes and when a child contracts herpes in the womb there is a high rate of mortality. Baby can die.
The good news is that transmitting herpes from mother to baby with HSV-2 prior to birth is extremely rare for mothers who contracted herpes before they conceived. Percentages increase when herpes is contracted during pregnancy, due to first breakouts usually being so much more severely than consecutive breakouts. The most common worry is that baby will contract herpes during the birthing process while passing through lesions, visible or not, which is why most mothers opt for a caesarean birth.
There does seem to be more risk if a mother contracts herpes for the first time during the last trimester of pregnancy. If the mother continues to have recurrent infections throughout the pregnancy then doctors may prescribe antiviral medications, such as Acyclovir, which is ruled safe for baby during pregnancy. However, I question this.
Say, mom does not have HSV, but dad does. During the pregnancy, just to be safe, mom might abstain from sex, use condoms 100% of the time or have dad use anti-viral medications to prevent transmission to mom during the pregnancy.
If you are already living with herpes or contract it while pregnant, please let your doctor know to keep you and baby safe during this sensitive phase.
Speaking of sensitive, some mothers find pregnancy difficult or stressful, which may tend to trigger more frequent breakouts.
Herpes is not transmitted through breast milk. However, there are things to be careful about when it comes to nursing.
Always wash your hands before handling baby.
If there is a sore anywhere on your breast, do not nurse. Use a breast pump and bottle feed baby with your breast milk. If you cannot pump your milk without the pump touching a sore, toss the breast milk into the garbage or down the sink. Do not give it to baby. Keep pumping until your sores heal to keep up your milk supply. Baby can have formula during this period. Once the sores are completely gone you may resume breastfeeding.
If you have cold sores or other HSV sores on your face, do not be tempted to kiss baby or snuggle cheek to cheek (or cheek to head) or the herpes virus can be transmitted to baby.
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