Having your HIV test come back positive can be both frustrating and heart-wrecking. The good news is that doesn’t stop you from being a great mum! With a little adjustment, you should be able to achieve all your mummy goals and be there for your baby.

It’s important to understand the risks HIV may expose your child to and that critical steps will need to be  taken to ensure that your baby is kept safe during pregnancy, birth, nursing. Read on to see more information about HIV and pregnancy and how you can keep yourself, the baby and your partner safe. 

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that causes AIDS. The virus gets to the body through blood or semen. To ensure the safety of the baby, women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant are often tested for HIV. In case you are found positive, your doctor will advise you on how to get pregnant and have a baby without posing risks to them. 

Getting Pregnant When You Are HIV Positive

With the help of your partner, it is possible to ease the process of getting pregnant when you are HIV positive. Consult your HIV specialist to get more information on how to reduce the risks. Additionally, ensure that you always use condoms during sex unless you are ovulating.  This will be paramount especially if you are a discordant couple; that is a case where your partner is negative. 

Your doctor could also advise you on the use of PrEP medications which is an HIV virus prevention method that has been in Kenya since March 2017. PrEP helps prevent the HIV virus from replicating itself. In Kenya, PrEP medication is available in all government hospitals. It is also available in many pharmacies around the country. Taking prescribed medication can also help reduce the chances of infecting the baby when you get pregnant. 

Avoiding Transmission During Pregnancy

With effective interventions, it is possible for you to have a healthy pregnancy and an HIV negative baby. Some of the ways through which you can avoid transmissions during pregnancy are such as:

  • Having regular check-ups with your doctor
  • Taking blood tests from time to time to monitor your health
  • Eating healthy meals and exercising regularly
  • Taking antiretroviral medication

In case you discover that you are HIV positive when you were already pregnant, it is still possible to deliver an HIV negative baby. Talk to your doctor to start emergency treatment immediately.

Avoiding Transmission During Labor

When you are HIV positive, it is best to deliver through the cesarean method. However, this is determined by the level of HIV in the blood. In case it is at a low level, you could consider delivering vaginally as this is safer for both you and the child.

Avoiding Transmission After Birth 

After you have delivered, your baby will be tested for the virus, then again at six weeks and later at 12 weeks. These numerous tests will give more accurate results. 

You may be required to buy and store formula as this will the baby’s alternative to breast milk. With a doctor’s guide, it is also possible to breastfeed your baby exclusively for six months while both of you take antiretroviral drugs. 

Ensure you consult your doctor to get the best advice depending on your condition.


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: pregnancybirthbaby, health24, catie, the-star, avert

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