Having a baby

Greta Hughson

HIV does not prevent you from starting a family, or having more children. Many women and men with HIV have done so and are raising happy, healthy children. For many people, although not for everyone, the desire to have a baby is strong and starting a family now or in the future is very important. Having HIV does not have to change that.

It is important to know that HIV can be passed on from a woman with HIV to her baby, which means that the baby could be born with HIV. This can happen during pregnancy, during childbirth or during breastfeeding.

However, it is also important to know that effective HIV care and treatment can prevent this from happening. With the right treatment, careful monitoring and formula feeding, a woman with HIV is very likely to be able to have a baby without passing on HIV. When all the right steps are taken, the risk of HIV being passed on is less than 1%. In the UK, it can be as low as one in 1000. You can find out more about this in Preventing HIV being passed on to your baby.

It’s a good idea to talk to staff at your HIV clinic as soon you start to think about trying for a baby, or as soon as possible if you think you might be pregnant. Your doctor, or someone else in your healthcare team, can talk to you about options for getting pregnant (or for your partner getting pregnant) as safely as possible. You can find out more about this in Conception

You can get advice from your healthcare team, including your GP, to make sure you are in the best possible health before you become pregnant and during pregnancy.

There are often things you can do yourself to improve your general health and which are also good for your unborn baby – such as stopping smoking, avoiding alcohol and eating a balanced diet. 

Your HIV doctor can also advise you about your HIV treatment, as some anti-HIV drugs are better suited for pregnant women than others.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.