Hepatitis C is a high-risk viral infection of the liver that spreads by coming into contact with infected blood. Common ways this disease spreads is through the use of contaminated needles as part of injectable drug use or getting tattoos with equipment that hasn’t been properly sterilized. It’s also possible to contract this condition by participating in unprotected sex. While this method of transition is relatively rare, it’s another argument for practicing safe sex. Women who have contracted hepatitis C may be wondering what effect it may have on their pregnancy.
Understanding The Impact of Hepatitis C On Your Pregnancy
It’s unsurprising that you might be concerned about the impact of hepatitis C on your pregnancy. This condition can cause your liver to become damaged, spur the development of liver cancer, or even result in liver failure. It’s possible for mothers carrying the disease to pass it on to their children. If you’re carrying a child or considering becoming pregnant, you should consider the following concerns:
- Can I pass it to my child? – Yes, it’s possible for the condition to pass to your child. While there’s no way to prevent it from passing to your child, it also doesn’t occur very often. The rate of infection is 8-15%, with higher rates occurring in women who also carry HIV. Ensuring that the HIV is undergoing consistent treatment reduces the risk of transferring either.
- Can I be treated for hepatitis C while pregnant? – The standard approach for treating hepatitis C is an antiviral medication. This approach cures approximately 90% of all cases of the virus. While it may seem logical that immediate beginning treatment will help protect the baby, this isn’t recommended. The medication may be harmful to the child, so doctors often suggest using contraception during the treatment period if you’re not already pregnant. Further, this contraceptive use should continue for four months after you test clear of the disease.
- How do I protect my child while pregnant? – There is no medication or vaccine currently in use that can protect your unborn child from hepatitis C. Your best approach is to ensure that you are not at risk of contracting the condition and are not carrying it when you get pregnant.
- Can I breastfeed while carrying hepatitis C? – Current studies suggest that there is no risk of transmission through milk. However, if you’re experienced cracking or bleeding resulting from irritation during breastfeeding, it’s safer not to breastfeed at those times.
If you’re pregnant or considering getting pregnant, consult with your physician. They’ll help advise you of the potential risks and what steps you can take to reduce or avoid the risk entirely.
Some Final Comments On Pregnancy and Hepatitis C
It’s vital to recall that this is a serious infection that has the potential to be spread to your child. If you’re considering getting pregnant, it’s essential that you get tested to ensure you aren’t infected. While the infection can be treated and even cured, it’s safer for your child not to be exposed to it at all. Call today to reach out for a consultation with your provider.