Is it OK for me to indulge in an occasional sip of alcohol?
It's one of the biggest questions pregnant women wonder about, and it doesn t help that the responses can be unclear. Some healthcare professionals might advise you to stop drinking entirely and others might suggest that light drinking won t harm your baby.
The problem with alcohol during pregnancy
Currently, there is no proven safe amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. This is because the placenta cannot completely filter out alcohol, meaning that a percentage still makes its way to the baby.
Alcohol can cause problems in unborn babies. When exposed to alcohol inside the womb, babies are susceptible to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is the broad term for a number of alcohol-related disorders in babies, including:
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
- Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS)
- Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND)
- Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
Alcohol can also cause a number of defects in unborn babies, including:
- Low IQ
- Low birth weight
- Spontaneous miscarriage
- Attention and learning difficulties
When alcohol makes its way to your baby it also stops the absorption of folic acid and iron, as well as reducing the calcium levels in the bones of you and your baby. Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients your baby needs to develop and grow healthily.
Your safest option
The safest option when you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant is to not consume alcohol at all. This is the recommendation of The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australia's main health research organisation.
Basically, whenever you drink alcohol, so does your unborn baby.
Alcohol replacement suggestions
Avoiding alcohol might seem easy in your first trimester when morning sickness turns you off almost everything. However, moving into your second trimester you might be feeling better and feel up for a sneaky drink or two.
Don t punish yourself or worry too much if you have a drink after your first trimester. Just try not to do it again and avoid alcohol for the rest of your pregnancy.
Every drink you don t have is good for your unborn baby.
Try replacing a glass of alcohol with a glass of soda water with fresh lemon or lime and mint leaves. You could also consider replacing your Friday night drink with another stress-relieving activity. A nice warm bath, a spa treatment or a long walk in nature, are all good ideas.
It might also be a good idea to see if your partner might consider supporting you throughout your pregnancy. It helps if your main drinking partner is choosing mocktails as well.
For more information on FASD, you can visit fasdhub.org.au.
Last Published* December, 2022
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.