It is recommended to avoid alcohol completely in pregnancy, particularly during the first three months as this is the time of greatest development for your child.
Alcohol unit calculator
The more units in a drink, the stronger it is. The percent numbers (%) you see on the label of the bottle or can will tell you how much of the drink is pure alcohol.
Examples of one unit of alcohol are:
- half a pint (284ml) of beer, lager or cider that is under 4% alcohol volume (lots are more than this so check the bottle or ask in the pub)
- a quarter of a pint (142ml) of stronger beer, lager or cider
- one glass of wine (125ml) that is under 9% alcohol volume - most wine is served in glasses that take either 175ml or 250ml and the alcohol content is more often 11% to 14% so a glass will usually contain at least two units
- one single (pub) measure of spirits (25ml) - this is based on drinks that are lower than 40% alcohol volume
- one small glass of sherry (50ml) of under 20% alcohol volume
- half an alcopop that is under 4% alcohol volume - many are more than this so it's important to check.
Most women choose to give alcohol up completely as this is the safest course of action for their baby.
One in 13 women who consume alcohol in pregnancy will go on to have a child with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
In pregnancy it's important to eat well. If you are used to eating foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat, you can make a few changes that will be good for you and your baby.
Avoiding alcohol may be easy if, like lots of women, you go off the taste early in your pregnancy. But for some others, it can be a challenge.
You don't have to stop having fun now you're pregnant - but there are a few things you'll have to give up or cut to almost zero. Alcohol is one of these things, because it can damage your growing baby.
- RCOG (2016) Alcohol and pregnancy. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London, England https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/alcohol-and-pregnancy/
- Kerr WC et al. (2012). “Understanding standard drinks and drinking guidelines.” Drug and alcohol review 2011;31:200-205
ℹLast reviewed on June 27th, 2017. Next review date June 27th, 2020.