Last updated December 2011. Planned review date: December 2012
You don’t have to stop having fun now that you’re pregnant, but cutting right back on alcohol should be a priority.
Bring your own
If you’re going to a party, take your own favourite non-alcoholic drink so you’re not tempted. You could try:
- fruit smoothies
- soda water with ice and lime
- traditional still lemonade
- a ‘virgin’ Mary (tomato juice with spices)
- a non-alcoholic cocktail such as orange sunset – grenadine syrup with pineapple juice and orange juice.
Alcohol can harm your developing baby, so you should think about giving up drinking while you are pregnant, or cutting right back. The safest approach in pregnancy is to choose not to drink at all. However, small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy (not more than one to two units, not more than once or twice a week) have not been shown to be harmful.
You should avoid alcohol in the first trimester and ideally not drink at all until after the birth. If you do choose to drink though, limit yourself to one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week maximum.
If you have any concerns about alcohol you should talk to your GP or midwife who can help you find the support you need.
How alcohol affects your unborn baby
If you drink when you are pregnant, alcohol from your blood crosses the placenta and enters the baby's blood. This means that some alcohol from every drink you have will reach your baby’s bloodstream.
Drinking during pregnancy can increase your chances of having a miscarriage.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the name given to problems that are found in children whose mothers drank heavily during pregnancy. These include facial abnormalities, heart defects, poor growth and severe mental and developmental problems.
If you drank heavily before you realised you were pregnant and are concerned about the effect on your baby, talk to your midwife about it.
If you want to learn more about how much alcohol you are drinking visit www.nhs.uk/drinkcheck.
For further help and advice with alcohol worries you can contact Drinkline on 0800 917 82 82.
In this section
Diet and nutrition
Managing your weight
Healthy working pregnancy
Labour and birth