Chapter 16: Breastfeeding
Heating breastmilk to prevent passing HIV
Breast milk can be heated almost to boiling to kill the HIV virus. A baby will not
be at risk of getting HIV from this heated milk. Heating breast milk takes work,
but it can be done if a woman has clean water, fuel, and support.
How to heat 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
with a cup or bottle.
Breast milk should
not be boiled.
Heated milk should
be used within a
Alternatives to breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is best, but there are a few times when it is not possible. If a mother
is infected with HIV, if she is very sick, or if she adopts a child, she may not be
able to or may choose not to breastfeed.
For some families, formula may be a safe alternative to breast milk.
Formula is only safe when:
• the family has enough clean water to make plenty of formula to feed
• the family has enough fuel to boil bottles.
• the family can afford to buy all the formula the baby
needs (and will not dilute it with
too much water, to save money).
One can of formula
may not seem
formula for many
months costs a
Families who give formula must follow the directions on the package exactly.
Do not thin the formula by adding extra water or by using less milk or powder.
Dirty bottles and nipples or watered-down formula can kill a baby.
A Book for Midwives (2010)