Herpes, particularly genital is an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) that are prone to affect your genitals, bottom, and thighs and may give you small painful sores on your skin. The primary cause of genital herpes is something called the simplex virus which can cause either type-1 (HSV-1) that causes cold sores or type-2 (HSV-2).
It is a permanent virus that stays in your body for life once you have been infected. Although amongst pregnant women this kind of herpes may not affect the baby as certain other diseases it is however a good idea to let your mid-wife know whether you or your partner has ever been infected to be on the safer side just in case.
It is very hard to detect genital herpes if you get infected, in fact it may not have any symptoms when you first get infected resulting in a complete unawareness on your part for days or even months. However, there are symptoms that might help you recognize the pattern leading you to realize that you have been affected.
Remember the infection looks more severe during the first attack and may last for two to three weeks. However, if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby you need to certain things in more details about genital herpes. Here is a list of things you should know about the effect of the disease if you are expecting.
If you get infected before your pregnancy then your baby will more likely absolutely fine and healthy. This is because your body gets the time to generate enough antibodies to fend the simplex virus, and this immunity is passed onto your baby while you are still conceiving. However, you would want the doctor and the mid-wife to keep a close watch on your symptoms just to be on the safer side.
First Trimester Infection
If you get infected during your first trimester, then your baby has a chance of being infected too along with you. This unfortunately may even lead to a miscarriage. However rare it may be it is always better to be absolutely cautious to prevent it at any cost. If you do get infected your doctor will usually refer you a genitourinary medicine and you can get specialist care. You may also be prescribed antiviral tablets like acyclovir which is safe to use during pregnancy, but remember they are to be used only when you are really suffering extremely.
Late Pregnancy Infection
If you get infected late during your pregnancy it may be a cause of worry particularly in the last six weeks of your pregnancy. This is because your body has no time to make enough antibodies to fight the virus which means that your baby will not receive any antibodies either. Remember that in such cases if you have vaginal birth your baby is more likely to catch the virus through contact with an open sore.
Effects on Babies
Although it is very unlikely that if you are infected with genital herpes, your baby will be infected too, although it may happen if you get infected for the first time late in your pregnancy. If your baby is infected by it then he or she will suffer from neonatal herpes. It is a serious illness and although very rare it may put your baby’s life at risk.
In such cases it is best to let both your doctor and your mid-wife know about it so that both you and your baby can be taken extra care of. Neonatal herpes varies in its severity and may heal if your baby’s infection is on the skin, in their eyes, or mouth because it is fairly easy to treat. The more severe infection may damage your baby’s nervous system or other organs and may put your baby’s life at considerable risk.
Although there is no foolproof prevention against being infected with herpes you may be prevented considerably if you use protection especially if you have a more than active sex life. Also make sure that after your baby’s birth you keep your baby away from people suffering from cold sores.