If a woman has her first episode of genital herpes while she is pregnant, she can pass the virus to her unborn child and may deliver a premature baby. Half of the babies infected with herpes either die or suffer from damage to their nerves. A baby born with herpes can develop serious problems that may affect the brain, the skin, or the eyes. If babies born with herpes are treated immediately with acyclovir, their chances of being healthy are increased. Therefore, if you are pregnant and infected with genital herpes, you should stay in close touch with your doctor before, during, and after your baby is born.
If a pregnant woman has an outbreak and it is not the first one, her baby's risk of being infected during delivery is very low.
If a woman is having an outbreak during labor and delivery and there are herpes lesions in or near the birth canal, the doctor will do a cesarean section to protect the baby. Most women with genital herpes, however, do not have signs of active infection with the virus during this time, and can have a normal delivery.
Reprinted from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
More About Sexually Transmitted Diseases