HIV+ Family Planning, Pregnancy and Birth

HIV+ Family Planning, Pregnancy and Birth

Parents who are HIV+ may wish to have children but are concerned about transmitting the virus to their baby. You want to feel the joy of the double line on your pregnancy test kit but you are also worried for your baby. With advancement in research and treatment, it is now possible for women to give birth to a baby who are free of HIV. Read the blog to know how to do family planning, have a safe pregnancy and give birth even when you or your partner are HIV+

HIV and Getting Pregnant

If you are HIV+ there are chances of transmitting it to your baby while you are pregnant. The virus passes through the placenta and infects the fetus. So, if you are planning to get pregnant, you should talk to your doctor and receive treatment. With proper treatment, you can lower the chances of passing the virus to the baby.

Effective Treatments to Reduce HIV Transmission

While there is no cure for HIV, here are some methods that you can adopt to reduce transmission of the virus.

1. Taking a combination of anti-HIV drugs will reduce the risk during pregnancy. Taking antiretroviral medicines before conception will reduce your virus in the fluids in your body and thus reduce the risk of virus transmission to your baby. Start antiretroviral medications as soon as you are diagnosed. This will lower the virus load in your body, improve your immune system and lead to healthy pregnancy.

2. Another way of lowering the transmission risk is taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medicine. If your partner is positive and you are exposed to the virus then taking PEP will reduce the chance of being infected. PEP should be taken within 72 hours of being infected to be effective.

Giving Birth when you’re HIV+

Women who are HIV+ can still give birth vaginally or through caesarean section. You can use Pregakem’s pregnancy calendar due date to calculate your date of delivery. Care has to be taken so that there are no cuts or scratches on the baby’s skin. Caesarean birth may cause some risks as women with low CD4 cell counts have a low immune system. This may cause infection after surgery. The incision may heal slowly so medicines are given to prevent infection if it’s a caesarean delivery.

HIV and your Baby’s Health

After delivering the baby you might be concerned about your baby’s health, the transmission of HIV virus and feeding the baby. Though there are no data or confirmation about the transmission risk, it is recommended to not breastfeed your baby as the milk may contain HIV.

Prevention treatments are given to babies born from HIV+ mothers. They receive antiretroviral treatment for 2 to 6 weeks after birth. Due to this treatment the chances of baby contracting HIV reduces. Your baby is also regularly tested for HIV until they are 18 months old. This testing is a combination of antibody and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests. They look for the virus in the baby’s blood. Babies are considered HIV negative by 3 months if they are not breast feed. Babies on antiretroviral treatment should be monitored continuously.

Managing HIV+ illness as a parent

With advancement of medicines, it is now possible for HIV+ parents to lead a healthy life but care needs to be taken if you or your partner falls sick. While this all may feel overwhelming do not hesitate to consult your doctor and ask for help from organizations that support people with HIV.


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