Hep C, My Baby and Me

Posted 16 September, 2020
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If I have hep C, will my baby get hep C?
Women with hep C have a very low risk of passing hep C on to their baby before or during birth. About 95% of babies born to hep C positive mothers WILL NOT get hep C.

Transmission of hep C occurs through blood-toblood contact, most commonly by injecting drug use, non-sterile tattooing or piercing or non-sterile medical procedures overseas or before 1989.

How will my hep C affect my pregnancy?

If you can keep your liver healthy during your pregnancy then hep C should not have any effects on you or your baby. The same things that keep you and your baby healthy, such as eating well and limiting high fat foods, regular moderate exercise, relaxation, and not drinking alcohol or smoking will also keep your liver healthy. Talk to your health professional about your individual health needs.

Can my partner give the baby hep C?

Your baby cannot get hep C from your partner during sex or conception. Be blood aware in the home once baby is born.

When is it safe for me to start hep C treatment?

You cannot have hep C treatment while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or while you are trying to get pregnant. There is limited research about the safety of the direct acting antiviral (DAA) medications during pregnancy, and therefore the treatment of pregnant women is not recommended. Speak to your doctor about starting treatment once you have given birth and have finished breastfeeding.

How will my hep C affect the birth?

The decision about whether to have a vaginal birth or a caesarean section will be made by you and your midwife and/or doctor based on the same factors as a woman without hep C – for example, progression of labour and the baby’s health. Some procedures may be changed or avoided during the birth, but these will be explained to you and you can talk about it with your midwife or doctor about these before you go into labour.

Can I breastfeed if I have hep C?

You are encouraged to breastfeed your baby even if you have hep C. Hep C is passed via blood-toblood contact and not through breast milk. Temporarily stop breastfeeding, or use one breast if you have a cracked or bleeding nipple. Discard any expressed breast milk while your nipple is cracked or bleeding. Once the breast has healed, you can start breastfeeding again. To learn more about breastfeeding positions and techniques that may help to prevent getting cracked or nipples that bleed, consult with a lactation consultant or midwife at a maternity hospital or women’s health centre.

Do I need to worry about blood loss after I give birth?

It’s normal for women to bleed for some time after having a baby. You will be advised to take the same standard precautions around blood and used sanitary products. Bathing with your baby is safe so long as you are not bleeding at the time.

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