Resources and treatment options for women with HIV who are considering getting pregnant.

With proper care and treatment it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. Without proper treatment, HIV can pass from woman to baby during pregnancy or at birth. HIV can also be passed from mother to child during breastfeeding.

What are my options for getting pregnant?

It is possible to get pregnant if you have HIV. If you are thinking about getting pregnant, the first step is to talk to a health care provider with experience in HIV and pregnancy.

Some women living with HIV, including those receiving HIV treatment, find it difficult to become pregnant.

Options include:

  • Getting the right HIV treatment to lower the chance of passing HIV on during sexual intercourse
  • Getting medication for your HIV-negative partner that lower the risk of transmitting HIV
  • Alternative insemination, when the sperm of an HIV-negative person is placed into the vagina with a syringe or eye dropper
  • Medically-assisted intravaginal or intrauterine insemination, which places the sperm close to the cervix or uterus

Read more about your options or download these CATIE brochures: 

Will my baby have HIV?

Advances in HIV treatment and knowledge have made it possible for women with HIV to reduce the chances of passing the virus to their baby to less than one per cent.

Your doctor will review your options with you. Canadian guidelines recommend:

  • HIV medication for the mother during pregnancy and labour
  • A short course of HIV treatment for the baby after birth
  • Vaginal delivery for most pregnancies, and in some cases C-section (cesarean section) surgery to remove the baby from the uterus
  • Feeding the baby formula instead of breastfeeding

You can also do some things to ensure you have as healthy a pregnancy as possible, including:

  • Taking folic acid for at least two to three months before you become pregnant and during the first trimester
  • Giving up smoking, drinking alcohol and using recreational drugs
  • Getting tested for rubella (German measles), and getting immunized if needed
  • Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Learn more about reducing the chances of transmitting HIV to your baby.

HIV medication and pregnancy

Canadian guidelines recommend a combination of HIV medication for women with HIV who want to get pregnant. It’s important to talk to your doctor to decide which medication is best for you.

The medication you take will depend on whether or not you are already getting HIV treatment, side effects, your viral load and other factors.

Read more about your treatment options. Your doctor will now about the latest recommended medication for women with HIV who want to get pregnant.

Your baby's health

Treatment during pregnancy is the best way to reduce the chances of your baby getting HIV. However, Canadian guidelines recommend a special course of HIV treatment for your baby within the first 12 hours after delivery. Your doctor will help you to develop a specific plan for your baby.

A monitoring program run by U.S. health authorities since 1994 has found no evidence of serious long-term side effects in children of mothers who took HIV treatment during pregnancy.

Resources