A diagnosis of genital herpes can feel devastating, but once the shock wears off you’ll find that you can continue to do a lot of the same things you could before. You can have a fulfilling love life and sex life. And yes, you can still have kids if you have herpes, too.
Of course, although it’s possible to have kids with herpes, you will need to take extra precautions. You can have a child without giving it herpes, but you and your doctor will need to keep an eye on things. As long as you are not having a herpes outbreak when you go into labor, the baby is unlikely to be infected. If you are having an outbreak, or there is a reason to be concerned, your doctor will perform a C-section.
Will the Baby Get Herpes?
A vaginal delivery is possible if you already had herpes before you got pregnant, or if you contracted herpes before the third trimester. In this scenario, your chances of passing the HSV-2 virus on to your baby is less than 1%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is because your body has had plenty of time to develop antibodies to the virus, which reduce the amount of the virus and reduce the risk of shedding it. These antibodies are also in the placenta and therefore provide the baby with some immunity.
Antiviral Medications and Pregnancy
Experts say it is safe and effective to take antiviral medications prescribed by your doctor in the third trimester up until delivery. This reduces your likelihood of having a herpes outbreak OR shedding the virus without symptoms when you deliver.
If you are having an outbreak or are newly infected during the pregnancy, then the chances of passing on the virus are high. In this case your doctor will need to deliver the baby by a caesarian section.
What about breastfeeding?
Once your baby is born, it is also safe to breastfeed your baby even during an outbreak. Since herpes is contracted through skin-to-skin contact rather than bodily fluids like some other viruses. However, if you have sores on your breasts, then obviously you would not want to breastfeed then.
Talk to Your Doctor
If a baby gets herpes, it can be serious and in some cases it can be fatal to the child. So it’s very important that you tell your doctor if you or your partner has herpes so all the necessary precautions can be taken. As long as you are careful and aware of your body, you can potentially still have a vaginal birth and failing that, you can have a C-section. Overall, rest assured that you can have kids if you have herpes.