Pregnancy and alcohol

  • Alcohol harms a fetus’s development.
  • A woman who is sexually active and drinks alcohol must use effective contraception.
  • No level of alcohol consumption is safe for a woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant.


How is a fetus affected by alcohol?

The damage to a fetus’s development during pregnancy depends on:

  • The amount of alcohol consumed during the pregnancy;
  • The point when alcohol is consumed during the pregnancy;
  • The number of times that the fetus is exposed to alcohol during the pregnancy;
  • How the mother’s body reacts to alcohol;
  • How the fetus reacts to alcohol;
  • The mother’s drug, medication, or tobacco use in addition to alcohol use;
  • Exposure to x-rays, mercury, or certain other chemicals;
  • Certain genetic factors of the mother or fetus.


Alcohol harms a fetus’s development. Mothers must not drink alcohol during pregnancy. No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.

  • A fetus’ brain develops throughout pregnancy; there is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy.
  • All types of alcohol harm the fetus (e.g. beer, wine, alcoholic drinks).
  • Alcohol consumption is very dangerous to the fetus.


Here are the possible consequences of alcohol consumption during pregnancy:

  • Child born with FASD;
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth;
  • Premature newborn or low birth weight baby;
  • Permanent brain damage;
  • Learning, memory, reasoning, and judgment problems;
  • Vision or hearing problems;
  • Slow growth;
  • Birth defects (such as deformed bones or heart problems).


So why do women or girls drink alcohol during pregnancy?

  • They don’t know they’re pregnant.
  • They don’t know that alcohol is dangerous to a fetus.
  • They underestimate the harm caused by alcohol since they know other women who drank during pregnancy whose children seem healthy.
  • Drinking is the norm among their friends and it’s difficult for them to say no.
  • They may drink to cope with difficult life circumstances such as violence, depression, poverty, or isolation.
  • They may have an addiction to alcohol.


If a woman who just learned that she’s pregnant has drunk alcohol, what must she do?

More than half of women drink alcohol before knowing they’re pregnant.

If a women learns that she’s pregnant, she must stop drinking as soon as possible and look after her health.

  • If a woman drinks alcohol before knowing that she’s pregnant, she must speak to her doctor or nurse.
  • If a pregnant woman is unable to stop drinking during her pregnancy, she must ask her doctor or nurse what support and services are available to help her.
  • Non-alcoholic beer must be avoided. Some of these beers contain more alcohol than indicated on the label.

If a woman is pregnant or may become pregnant, she must not drink alcohol.


Is there a safe time to drink during pregnancy?

The fetus is developing through the nine months of pregnancy.  Alcohol harms its development throughout the pregnancy.

No amount of alcohol is safe. If a woman is pregnant or planning a pregnancy, she must not drink alcohol.


Can a breastfeeding mom drink alcohol?

A breastfeeding mom must not drink alcohol since it will enter her breast milk. The baby’s brain is growing even after birth.


What can a pregnant woman who thinks she may have an addiction problem do?

It’s never too late to ask for help in stopping drinking.

A woman who reduces her alcohol consumption or stops completely at any point during her pregnancy will help her baby.

A woman who is having difficulty controlling her alcohol consumption or stopping drinking can ask for help from: