I Have Hep C. Can I Have a Baby?
Last updated: March 2023
When you are living with hep C, you might wonder if you can have a family. The answer is: Yes! Knowing that you have hep C before you get pregnant gives you options. Here’s some information to help you plan.
First of all, some good news:
- Hep C does not keep you from getting pregnant
- Pregnancy does not seem to make hep C worse1
- Treating hep C before pregnancy makes a healthy pregnancy much more likely, for both mom and baby1,2,3,4
Can I get pregnant during treatment?
If you’re getting treatment for hep C now, it’s important to know that ribavirin can cause abnormalities in babies. Your doctor can help you make a plan to avoid pregnancy while taking this medication, and for 6 months after finishing it. This is true for people whose partners are taking ribavirin too.
Can I get treated during pregnancy?
The direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs are not usually recommended during pregnancy because we don’t know enough about them yet. Ask your doctor for more information.
Hep C may or may not cause some problems in pregnancy, depending on how severe the infection is. Some research studies have found that babies born to women with hepatitis C may be more likely experience adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as pre-term (early) delivery, low birth weight, or a need for monitoring in the neonatal ICU after birth.1
There may also be a higher chance of diabetes during the pregnancy. There’s also an increased chance of a liver problem called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP).1 ICP can be dangerous for both moms and babies, but your pregnancy care team can monitor closely to decrease the chance of problems.1
What about cirrhosis?
People with cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver do have some possible risks in pregnancy. Cirrhosis can cause increased chances for bleeding and a blood pressure problem called preeclampsia in the mother, and early delivery and low birth weight for the baby.2 People with cirrhosis should consider getting care from specialists during their pregnancy.
Can I spread hep C to my baby?
You may have heard that mothers can give hep C to their babies. But it doesn’t happen often! If you have finished treatment, and your hep C is cured, you can’t transmit the infection to your baby.2,5 Even without treatment, the chance is small - about 6 percent. And less virus in the bloodstream (lower viral load) means less chance for the baby to become infected. So specialists recommend treatment before pregnancy when possible.1,2,3,4
What if I have HIV?
In the US, about 5 percent of people with hep C are also living with HIV.6 Having both HIV and hep C causes a greater chance of hep C transmission to the baby — up to 19 percent — but there’s less risk if the HIV is under control (being managed well). So knowing your HIV status and getting treatment can make pregnancy safer.1,2,5
You can have a baby with hep C. Talk with your doctors about your plans for getting pregnant so both you and your baby will be as healthy as possible.2,7