Chickenpox ( varicella ) is a highly contagious virus that runs rampant in daycare centers and schools, especially in the early spring. If you are considering pregnancy and haven't had the virus, for sure, you need to be immunized. The CDC recommends then waiting at least four weeks after the shot to begin trying to conceive. If you aren't sure if you've had the virus, there is an easy blood test that will be positive if you are already immune and have the antibodies.
Chickenpox causes an itchy pustule lesion that looks like a rash when it starts. It's important to know that there are risks associated with this virus if you are pregnant. You are potentially at risk for pneumonia.
And if you are between 8 and 20 weeks gestation there is the potential risk of varicella syndrome for the baby. This syndrome may cause low birth weight and several congenital problems affecting limbs, eyes and the brain. The baby could be born scarred from the rash in utero. If you develop the rash close to your delivery date the baby could be born with a serious infection.
If you know that you have been exposed to chickenpox and you know that you aren't immune, call your provider right away. It may be recommended that you receive an immune globulin that provides antibodies to the virus which may lessen the severity of infection. But it has to be administered within ten days of exposure. If you indeed develop the infection, there are antiviral drugs to reduce the risks of complications. If you are suffering from chickenpox when you deliver your baby, an immune globulin may be a treatment for the baby right after birth. And if your baby is born with the chickenpox, antiviral drugs may be used.
The message is simple. If you are not positive that you have had the virus, go get a blood test. If you don't have the antibodies to protect you from the chickenpox, go get the vaccine. And remember to wait before you attempt pregnancy.