262 chapter 12: Caring for your baby
Breastfeeding if you have HIV
A woman who is being treated with medicines for
HIV is less likely to pass the virus to her baby while
breastfeeding. But even if you are not taking ART
medicines, you can make breastfeeding safer:
• Give only breast milk for the first 6 months.
Babies who also get formula, teas, or other
foods or drinks are more likely to become
infected than babies who drink only breast
milk. Other foods or liquids are harder for a
small baby to digest and may irritate the lining
of the baby´s stomach. This may help HIV to
pass more easily.
• Stop breastfeeding after 6 months, but do not stop suddenly. It usually takes
several days to wean a baby (see page 265).
• Position the baby correctly to avoid cracked nipples.
• Treat thrush, cracked nipples, and breast infections right away.
• Do not feed the baby from a breast that has mastitis or an abscess—instead,
remove the milk and throw it away. Feed the baby with milk from the other
breast, until the infection heals.
To kill HIV in breast milk, you can also heat the breast milk almost to boiling
(pasteurize), and then cool it and feed it to the baby through a cup or a bottle.
This takes work, but it can be done if you have clean water, fuel, and support.
To pasteurize breast milk
1. Place a jar of breast milk in a pot of water.
2. Bring the water to a boil.
3. Immediately remove the pot from the heat.
4. Let the milk cool before feeding it to the baby.
The milk should be used within a few hours of pasteurizing.
Breast milk should not be boiled.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007