Can I drink alcohol during pregnancy?

It's safer not to drink alcohol during pregnancy, or if you are planning to become pregnant, because it can damage your growing baby. By not drinking, you are protecting your baby and minimising the risks to their development and future health.

two glasses of wine

How can alcohol affect my baby?

Alcohol passes from your blood into the baby's placenta. Your baby can't process alcohol like you can, and too much can be extremely harmful to their development. If you carry on drinking, especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight are increased.

Sometimes drinking during pregnancy can cause a serious condition called foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. When the baby can't process the amount of alcohol being consumed, it can affect their development in the womb, including their brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body. This can result in miscarriage, and if the baby survives, they may be left with lifelong problems such as poor growth, facial abnormalities, learning and behavioural problems. Remember - the more you drink, the greater the risk.

Help and support

If you feel you need some help cutting down, there is lots of support available.

These tips on cutting down may be helpful, but if you'd rather talk to someone you can always speak to your midwife, GP or pharmacist.

These counselling services also offer confidential help and support:

  • Drinkline is the free national alcohol helpline. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
  • We Are With You (formerly known as Addaction) is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities manage the effects of alcohol and drug misuse.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self help group. Its “12-step” programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
  • Find your nearest alcohol support services.

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