Ask the Experts
Herpes and Delivery
I’m pregnant and have herpes. Will I need to have a Cesarean section?
Knowing your herpes simplex virus status makes you better prepared to deal with it. Many cases of neonatal transmission occur with mothers who don’t know they have the virus. Fortunately, while roughly 25 percent to 30 percent of pregnant women have herpes, less than 0.1 percent of babies contract it. Risk is increased if a woman has an outbreak at the time of delivery, because active viral cells present in the vagina can be very dangerous for her baby. The risks are even higher for women who contract herpes late in their pregnancy, as they have not produced antibodies to protect the fetus. Make sure your doctor knows your status so he or she can determine what kind of delivery is best. If you have an outbreak when you go into labor, chances are your baby will be born via C-section.