Planning to get pregnant
Many women with HIV are choosing to have children. Although you have HIV, it’s possible for you to have a healthy pregnancy and it is likely your baby will be born healthy and HIV negative. Without antiretroviral treatment or other interventions, about one in four women with HIV transmit HIV to their infants. With effective interventions, the risk of transmission is very low.
Many women with HIV now experience pregnancy and have a child (or children) who does not have HIV. Expert understanding of strategies to prevent transmission of HIV means the great majority of babies born to HIV-positive women in Australia are born without HIV infection.
You and your doctor should discuss your options for delivery in the early stages of pregnancy and also review your viral load when you are around 36 weeks pregnant to discuss your best options for delivery at that time.
Recent research has found that if the mother is on HIV antiretroviral treatment and has an undetectable viral load, the risk of HIV transmission through breastmilk is low. That means in developing countries without a safe water supply, the World Health Organization recommends that HIV-positive women breastfeed if they can access antiretroviral treatments.
Looking after yourself post-partum
For a range of reasons, even the most resilient woman can become emotionally vulnerable after childbirth. For women with HIV, the overwhelming life changes brought about by a new baby can be compounded by anxiety about the future.
Baby with HIV
Whether or not you have taken any antiretroviral treatments during pregnancy, your baby will be treated with HIV antiretroviral treatments for a period of 4 to 6 weeks to improve his or her chance of being HIV negative.