Lanarkshire funding for formula project

New mums in Lanarkshire who are living with HIV will now be able to access free formula milk through Waverley Care, thanks to funding from NHS Lanarkshire.

The funding will allow us to support new mums to follow guidance recommending that women living with HIV should exclusively formula feed their babies to prevent passing on the infection.

Under the Infant Formula Project, mothers living with HIV can access four tins of formula per month, for 12 months, which is usually enough to cover all feeding. We also supply free bottles and a sterilizing machine.

This support helps women to overcome the financial pressures associated with formula feeding, with consumer group, Which?, estimating the annual cost of formula milk at £370-£400 before equipment is included.

But the impact of the project go beyond financial savings, supporting mothers with the social and emotional pressures linked to formula feeding.

Women who have accessed support through our existing infant formula projects in Lothian and Glasgow have spoken of their anxiety about the implications of not breastfeeding in terms of the emotional bond with their child and the impact on health. In African communities, where breastfeeding is the norm, some mothers have also expressed concern that by not breastfeeding they could draw attention to their HIV status.

To help address these concerns, we will offer mothers information and advice to answer their questions about choosing to formula feed their babies. We can also help put women in touch with other mums who are living with HIV for peer support.

Infant formula is just one aspect of action to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV in Scotland. During pregnancy itself, all women are offered an HIV test to determine their HIV status. Where a mother-to-be is diagnosed with HIV, she can be started on effective treatment to manage the condition, which reduces the risk of transmission to the baby to just 0.1%. The birth of the baby will also be managed to reduce the risk of transmission.

Thanks to these interventions, HIV is no longer a barrier to starting a family. If you would like to find out more about HIV and pregnancy, check out this factsheet produced by NAM.