Terrence Higgins Trust uses cookies to improve your experience of our websites. For more information or to change the use of cookies, please click here.

Accept and Close

Antenatal (prenatal) care

african woman doing yoga

Good antenatal (prenatal) care is important for anyone expecting a baby. If you have HIV, it’s an essential part of reducing the risk of your baby being born with HIV, and helping you stay well during your pregnancy.

What is antenatal care?

Antenatal care, sometimes called prenatal care, is the care you receive from healthcare professionals during your pregnancy (before the birth).

If you have HIV, antenatal care is an essential part of reducing the risk of your baby being born with HIV, as well as helping you stay well during your pregnancy and prepare for looking after your baby when he or she is born.

Who will be in my antenatal team?

You're likely to be looked after by a team of healthcare workers during your pregnancy. You will still get your care at your HIV clinic. But, as well as your HIV doctor and clinic staff, you are likely to see an obstetrician (a doctor who delivers babies), a specialist midwife and a paediatrician.

Other people you may see, depending on any advice or help you would like or might need, could include a peer support worker, a community midwife, a counsellor, a psychologist, a social worker or a patient advocate. Some of these people can help with any other issues you might have, such as problems with housing, finances or alcohol and drug use. They can provide support and advice on your eligibility for free NHS treatment and other financial help, such as help with formula feeding.

Many women find that peer support is a valuable part of preparing for pregnancy, birth and parenthood.

What can my antenatal team help me with?

Your health care team can help you adhere to any treatment you need to take and answer questions about your health and that of your baby. You can also talk to them about the best way to feed your baby - and how to explain to people why you aren’t breastfeeding, if you think that might be a problem.

As any pregnant woman would, you’re likely to attend antenatal classes to help you prepare for birth and early parenthood. And, like any other pregnant woman, it’s important that you have a balanced diet and avoid alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs. Your healthcare team can help you with these things.

Will my antenatal team keep my HIV status confidential?

Like all health professionals, the members of your antenatal care team are bound by confidentiality guidelines. They will not disclose your status to anyone without your consent.

What sort of antenatal screening will I have?

Women living with HIV generally have the same antenatal screening tests as other pregnant women, such as ultrasound scans and tests for abnormalities (there is no evidence that rates of abnormalities are higher in babies born to women living with HIV).

You'll be tested for sexually transmitted infections as part of your care during pregnancy, as these can increase your HIV viral load and increase the risk of HIV being passed on to your baby.

Next: After the birth ››

‹‹ Back to: Support while you are pregnant



Whole Star Empty Star Empty Star Empty Star Empty Star (1 vote cast) Please log in or register to vote. What's this?


Please log in or register to add this article to My favourites. What's this? Adding an article to My favourites will allow you to easily come back to it later or print it.

Your comments

You will need to be logged in before you can leave a comment.

Please log in using the form on the top right of the page or register.

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 23/6/2017 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 23/6/2020

Content Author: S. Corkery (NAM)

Current Owner: G. Hughson (NAM)

More information:

Antenatal care, NAM Aidsmap

Prenatal Ultrasound Screening for Fetal Anomalies and Outcomes in High-Risk Pregnancies due to Maternal HIV Infection: A Retrospective Study, A. Reitter, 1 ,* A. U. Stücker, 1 H. Buxmann, 2 E. Herrmann, 3 A. E. Haberl, 4 R. Schlößer, 2 and F. Louwen 1, National Center for Biotechnology Information: Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. 2013; 2013: 208482. Published online 2013 Sep 26. doi: 10.1155/2013/208482 PMCID: PMC3803124

Have a healthy diet in pregnancy, NHS Choices, January 2017

Pregnancy and baby guide, NHS Choices, April 2016

Illegal drugs in pregnancy, NHS Choices, April 2016

HIV and pregnancy – screening and tests, i-Base, January 2016

How likely is mother to child transmission?, NAM, Aidsmap

What factors increase the chance of transmission from mother to baby?, NAM, Aidsmap

Pattern of sexually transmitted infections in human immunodeficiency virus positive women attending antenatal clinics in north-central Nigeria, Salamat A Isiaka-Lawal, Charles Nwabuisi, Olurotimi Fakeye, Rakiya Saidu, Kike T Adesina, Munirdeen A Ijaiya, Abdulgafar A Jimoh, Lukman O Omokanye, Sahel medical Journal, October 2014

New British guidelines recommend treatment for everyone with HIV by Keith Alcorn, 24 June 2015, NAM

NHS Choices Antenatal care

de Ruiter A et al.Guidelines for the management of HIV infection in pregnant women 2012 (updated May 2014) BHIVA, 2014