There’s no safe amount of alcohol or safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy. If you drink alcohol even before you know you’re pregnant, it can harm your baby. You may be pregnant and not know it for 4 to 6 weeks.
Any kind of alcohol is off limits, including wine, beer and champagne. If you drink alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol in your blood quickly passes through the placenta and the umbilical cord to your baby. So if you drink alcohol during pregnancy, your baby is drinking alcohol, too.
If you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or think you may be pregnant, don’t drink alcohol.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases your baby’s chances of:
- Premature birth. This is when your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies may have serious health problems at birth and later in life.
- Brain damage and problems with growth and development
- Birth defects, like heart defects, hearing problems or vision problems. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body.
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (also called FASDs). Children with FASDs may have a range of problems, including intellectual and developmental disabilities. They also may have problems or delays in physical development. FASDs usually last a lifetime. If you don’t drink alcohol, FASDs are completely preventable.
- Low birthweight. This is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Having low birthweight can cause serious health problems for some babies.
- Miscarriage. This is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
You can help prevent all these complications by not drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
How to say no to alcohol during pregnancy
Social activities, such as weddings, birthday parties and sporting events, often are celebrated with alcohol. You may be used to having a glass of wine with dinner or at the end of a busy day. We know it may be hard to say no to alcohol during pregnancy.
Here’s what you can do:
- Think about when you usually drink alcohol. Plan to drink other things, like fruit-infused water, sparkling water or plain water. Use a fun straw or put an umbrella in the glass to make it seem more festive.
- Stay away from situations or places where you usually drink, like parties or bars.
- Get rid of all the alcohol in your home.
- Tell your partner and your friends and family that you’re not drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Ask them to help and support you.
- If you need help to stop drinking alcohol, talk to your health care provider. He can help you find resources to help you stop.
For more information on how to have a healthy pregnancy, visit marchofdimes.org.