Growing Your Family

 

Preparing for pregnancy

Talk to your HIV doctor about your plans to have a baby. If you do not have an HIV doctor, your local HIV organization may be able to help you get connected with a doctor. Visit www.HIV411.ca to find an HIV organization near you.

When you tell your doctor that you are planning to have a baby, they will review your HIV medications to make sure they can be taken during pregnancy. Although most HIV medications are safe to take during pregnancy, some are best avoided. If you are on any of these medications, your doctor will prescribe different ones for you before you start trying to become pregnant.

Before trying to get pregnant, make sure that you have been on HIV treatment for at least three months and that you have a minimum of two undetectable viral load test results at least one month apart. Ideally, you should aim to maintain an undetectable viral load for at least six months before trying to get pregnant. Your HIV doctor can help you decide when it is a good time to start trying to get pregnant.

If you do not have an undetectable viral load, talk to your doctor. They can help you if you’re having difficulty taking your HIV treatment as prescribed. Your doctor might switch your medications if they are not working for you.

Besides looking after your HIV, there are some other things that you should do to prepare for pregnancy:

  • Talk to a healthcare provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications and natural remedies that you are taking. Your healthcare provider will tell you if they are safe to take during pregnancy.
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and get treated if necessary. Getting tested regularly is important for your health, and some STIs can be harmful to a baby during pregnancy if they are not treated.
  • Take folic acid every day for three months before getting pregnant and for at least the first three months of pregnancy. Folic acid helps to prevent birth defects. Most people need to take 0.4 mg to 1 mg of folic acid per day but some people need to take a higher dose. Talk to a healthcare provider about how much you should take and whether there are ways to help cover the cost of folic acid.

If you are planning to have a baby with someone who is also living with HIV, they should aim to have an undetectable viral load for at least three months (ideally six months) before trying to conceive as well. Maintaining an undetectable viral load is important for both your health and your partner’s health.