Should I give birth via C-section since I have herpes?

Dear Dr. Amy:

I am 34 years old and I am expecting our first child around 22nd July (currently 32 weeks pregnant). I have suffered from genital herpes for about 12 years. I am on the tail end of an outbreak now – the second one during this pregnancy. I have been given the option of a C-section at 37 weeks to avoid infecting the baby but my doctor is also happy to keep an eye on me and deliver the baby vaginally if no lesions are present. I am an ex-midwife so I have some medical knowledge. I just don’t know what to do and I would never forgive myself if the baby contracted neonatal herpes. Do you have any advice. I would appreciate another opinion.

Dr. Amy’s Response:

Dear Lyn,

My advice is to make a decision based on factual information regarding childbirth and herpes, your personal medical knowledge and experience, a trusted and competent physician’s advice, your partner’s input, and your knowledge of yourself and ability to live with your decision. If you take all these precautions and act in a responsible fashion (not purely emotional) you have done all that is humanly possible. Other people can advise you, but you will have to live with the outcome.

Due to the nature of biology, our offspring are susceptible to our genetics, personality, and heritage whether it is positive or negative. We can’t blame ourselves for our biology nor control every outcome that is the nature of our birth and life experiences. We can only do our best to provide the healthiest physical and emotional environment and example for our children. Having a family has risks, but you will hopefully discover that the rewards and richness of your new family member will bring joy and enhancement to you and your family’s lives. 


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