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Vaginal vs. C-section Delivery...Which is Right for You?

Do You Have to Have a C-section?


Updated June 25, 2014

For years, HIV infected women who were pregnant had little choice in how they delivered their baby. C-section delivery was considered the safest option in an effort to prevent HIV transmission to the baby. Today, more and more HIV infected women are delivering vaginally. There are guidelines as to who should and shouldn't have a vaginal delivery. Keep in mind the following are just guidelines and your doctor's choice may vary.

C-section delivery recommended:

  • the viral load is unknown or is greater than 1000 copies/ml at 36 weeks of pregnancy
  • there as been no HIV medications taken during the pregnancy
  • there has been no prenatal care prior to 36 weeks of pregnancy
  • a c-section should be scheduled prior to the rupture of membranes ("water breaking")

Vaginal delivery can be done if:

  • there has been prenatal care throughout pregnancy
  • the viral load is less than 1000copies/ml at 36 weeks of pregnancy
  • HIV medications have been taken during pregnancy

If you are pregnant and have HIV, make sure you are getting the proper prenatal care throughout your pregnancy and talk to your doctor to find out if vaginal delivery is an option for you.

Source: "Delivery Options for HIV-Positive Pregant Women", The Body, May 2005.

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