Having hep C won’t usually affect your pregnancy. Being pregnant won’t usually affect your hep C.
Can I have a baby if I have hep C?
Hep C usually won’t affect your ability to become pregnant. A very small number of babies might be born with hep C, but half of those will clear hep C in their first year.
But If you have liver cirrhosis, and want to start a family, talk to your Liver Clinic doctor or your specialist before you become pregnant.
Testing for hep C when you are pregnant
When you are pregnant, you will probably be given a lot of tests. As part of this, you will likely be tested for hep C. The first hep C test (antibody test) will tell you if you have ever had hep C. If the first test comes back positive, you will be asked to take another test. The second hep C test (PCR test) will tell you if you have hep C now. Your doctor or nurse will then work with you to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible during your pregnancy and birth.
How is hep C passed onto babies?
Most babies are not at risk of catching their mum’s hep C. Of all mums with hep C, less than 6 in 100 babies will be born with hep C.
Hep C is passed on through blood-to-blood contact. If a baby is born with hep C it will have been passed on either in the womb or during child-birth.
Hep C is not passed onto your baby through breastmilk. Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed whether or not they have hep C. If your nipples are cracked and bleeding, stop breastfeeding until they are healed. For more information, call the Hepatitis Infoline or read our Pregnancy, babies and children factsheet.
Will I need a cesarean section if I have hep C?
No, you can still have a natural birth if you have hep C. There is no benefit to you or your baby if you have a cesarean delivery. Doctor’s might still recommend a cesarean for other medical reasons, but not because you have hep C.
When to test a baby for hep C
Your baby will only need to be tested for hep C if you had hep C while you were pregnant.
Your baby can be PCR tested at 8 weeks and then 14 weeks old. This will show if your baby has hep C at the time of the tests. Babies born with hep C have a 50% chance of clearing it in the first year. At 18 months your baby can have an anti-body test to check if they have cleared the virus.
What happens if my baby is born with hep C?
If a baby is born with hep C, it will have a 50% chance of clearing their infection naturally. This will happen within the first 12 months of their lives.
Children with chronic hep C will benefit from seeing a paediatrician (children’s health specialist) who can monitor their hep C. Childhood hep C appears to be mild with very little liver inflammation.
There is no need to tell other people about your child’s hep C status. This means you are not required to tell other family members, childcare staff, schools, baby sitters, friends of the child or sports and activity groups
For more information, call the Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Department of Gastroenterology, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead on 9845 3999 >>
Should I avoid hep C treatment during pregnancy?
DAA treatment of pregnant women or women who are breast-feeding is not recommended. It is recommended that women wait 4 weeks after treatment before attempting to start a family and become pregnant.
It is very important to talk to your doctor about treatment, pregnancy, and contraception.
Want to know more about hep C and pregnancy?
If you’d like to know more about how hep C may affect your pregnancy, baby or child, phone the Hepatitis Infoline today.