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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 23/6/2020
Content Author: S. Corkery (NAM)
Current Owner: G. Hughson (NAM)
Antenatal care, NAM Aidsmap
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