I’m worried I won’t be able to have a natural birth

Q: I caught genital herpes a few years ago and I’ve heard that I can’t give birth vaginally if I have a flare up. Is this true?

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Midwife Nikki replies:

This is only the case if your waters have been ruptured for more than four hours and there are active lesions on the labia, vagina or cervix. In that case, a Caesarean is recommended, but discuss it with your obstetrician.
Don’t worry too much though, as women who acquire genital herpes before they become pregnant have a lower risk of transmitting the virus to their babies. This is because they produce antibodies, which are then passed to the baby.
Even if the lesions are active in the birth canal during delivery, the antibodies can protect the baby if a vaginal delivery is unavoidable.
The risks to your baby are increased however, if this is the first episode you have had and the flare-up occurs after 28 weeks, as antibodies can take up to 12 weeks to develop.

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