Why avoid alcohol during pregnancy?
Don’t drink alcohol if you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
Alcohol can cause problems for your baby at any time in pregnancy, even before you know you’re pregnant.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy makes your baby more likely to have premature birth, birth defects and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
How does drinking alcohol during pregnancy affect your baby's health?
Drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for your baby. When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol in your blood quickly passes through the placenta and the umbilical cord to your baby.
Drinking any amount of alcohol at any time during pregnancy can harm your baby’s developing brain and other organs. No amount has been proven safe at any time during pregnancy.
Alcohol can cause problems for your baby any time during pregnancy, even before you know that you’re pregnant. You may be pregnant and not know for 4 to 6 weeks.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases your baby's chances of:
- Premature birth.
- Brain damage and problems with growth and development.
- Birth defects, like heart defects, hearing problems or vision problems.
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (also called FASDs). Children with FASDs may have a range of problems, including intellectual and developmental disabilities. These can cause trouble in learning, communicating, taking care of himself or getting along with others. They also may have problems or delays in physical development. FASDs usually last a lifetime. Binge drinking during pregnancy increases your chances of having a baby with FASDs.
- Low birthweight.
How can you keep your baby safe from alcohol during pregnancy?
If you don’t drink alcohol during pregnancy, your baby can’t have any health problems caused by alcohol. If you're pregnant or even thinking about getting pregnant, don’t drink alcohol.
Some women may drink alcohol during pregnancy and have babies who seem healthy. Some women may have very little alcohol during pregnancy and have babies with serious health conditions. Every pregnancy is different. Alcohol may hurt one baby more than another. The best way to keep your baby safe from problems caused by alcohol during pregnancy is not to drink alcohol when you’re pregnant.
If you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or think you may be pregnant, don’t drink alcohol. Tell your health care provider if you need help to stop drinking alcohol.
How can you stop drinking alcohol during pregnancy?
Here are some tips to help you stop drinking alcohol:
- Think about when you usually drink alcohol. Plan to drink other things, like fruity drinks or water. Use a fun straw or put an umbrella in the glass to make it seem more fun.
- 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, here's what you can do:
- Talk to your health care provider about alcohol treatment programs.
- Join an Alcoholics Anonymous support group.
- Use Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (also called SAMHSA) website or call 1-800 662-4357.
Can your partner's drinking affect your baby during pregnancy?
FASDs and other alcohol-related health conditions happen when you drink during pregnancy. Research is still being done to find out if alcohol harms a man’s sperm before a woman gets pregnant.