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Hepatitis B and Pregnancy: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Hepatitis B is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. You can spread the virus to your newborn. To protect your baby, your doctor will treat him or her as soon as you give birth. This is very important. Children who get the virus at birth often have a long-term infection. This type of infection damages liver cells. And it can lead to serious liver disease.

You may not have any symptoms. Or you may be very tired and feel sick to your stomach. You may feel itchy. Your skin and eyes may look yellow. Most people get better in 4 to 8 weeks with simple care at home. But in some cases, hepatitis B is a lifelong infection.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

To protect your baby

  • Make sure that all doctors and health professionals who treat you or your baby during labour, delivery, and recovery know that you have hepatitis B. Your baby needs two shots in the first 12 hours of life. These shots may be given in the delivery room, right after birth. One shot is hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG). The other shot is the hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Make sure that your baby gets all follow-up vaccines. Follow-up treatment is a very important part of protecting your baby from infection.

To take care of yourself

  • Follow your doctor's advice to have a healthy pregnancy. Having hepatitis B means that you should take extra steps to take care of yourself.
    • If you are tired, take it easy and get enough rest.
    • Make sure that your doctor knows all the medicines you take. Some medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can make liver problems worse. Do not take any new medicines, including over-the-counter medicines, unless your doctor says it is okay.
    • If your doctor prescribes antiviral medicine, take it exactly as directed. Do not stop or change a medicine without talking to your doctor first.
    • If you feel sick to your stomach, try to eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals.
    • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
    • If you have itchy skin, keep cool, stay out of the sun, and wear cotton clothing.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor, midwife, or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or more blood in your stool.
  • You have a new or higher fever.
  • You feel dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have new or worse vomiting or diarrhea.
  • You can't keep down medicines or fluids.
  • You have symptoms of dehydration, such as:
    • Dry eyes and a dry mouth.
    • Passing only a little urine.
    • Feeling thirstier than normal.
  • You have pain in your belly or pelvis.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor, midwife, or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.