Follow us

Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

Have you heard conflicting messages about alcohol use during pregnancy? Here are answers to commonly asked questions about drinking during pregnancy and how to have a healthy pregnancy. Remember 049 – zero alcohol for nine months of pregnancy.

There is No Safe Type or Amount of Alcohol to Consume During Pregnancy!

Is drinking some alcohol during pregnancy really serious? What’s the big deal?

Yes, drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a big deal and here’s why… When you consume alcohol during pregnancy, so does your baby. The same amount of alcohol that is in your blood is also in your baby’s blood. Although your body is able to manage some alcohol in your blood, you baby’s little body isn’t capable of doing that. Researchers have learned that even small amounts of alcohol can cause physical and cognitive problems such as learning disorders, short-term memory problems, and attention deficit disorder that often don’t show up until children begin school.

I don’t drink hard liquor. I only drink wine sometimes. Is just a little wine or a beer OK while I’m pregnant?

Alcohol is alcohol. One type is not less harmful to the developing baby than another. All types of alcohol including red wine, white wine, wine coolers, beer, seltzers, and spirits / hard liquor all contain chemicals that are harmful to the baby’s development and may cause permanent damage. It is best to not drink any type of alcohol while pregnant.

What if my partner drinks alcohol while I’m pregnant?

FASD is only caused if a woman consumes alcohol while she is pregnant, and FASD is not hereditary. However, a partner can, and should, be supportive of the mom-to-be by encouraging her not to consume alcohol, and by abstaining from alcohol as well during the pregnancy.

There is No Safe Time to Consume Alcohol During Pregnancy!

Does it matter when I drank alcohol while I was / am pregnant?

While drinking alcohol at any stage of pregnancy poses a risk, it is often not just about how much a woman drinks, but when. Women may be drinking alcohol during pregnancy in the narrow span of days 17-21 after conception, when they might not know they are pregnant. This exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can alter the blueprint of a child’s face, as well as disrupt the development of the brain, spinal cord and other organs forming at that time. Other variables which can determine the degree of damage caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy include the mother’s genetics, nutrition, age, and what parts of the brain and body are being developed.

I drank alcohol before I knew I was pregnant. Now what?

First, don’t panic! The best thing to do is stop consuming alcohol as soon as you find out you are pregnant. The sooner you abstain from alcohol use during pregnancy, which includes wine, wine coolers, beer, and spirits / hard liquor, the better it will be for both you and your baby.

Is it okay to drink alcohol in the third trimester of pregnancy, because the baby is already “developed”?

This is not true. The baby develops at a rapid rate through the entire pregnancy, not just in the early months. Most importantly, please remember that the brain is always developing, even after the baby is born! Thus, you should abstain from alcohol use during the entire pregnancy, which includes wine, wine coolers, beer, and spirits / hard liquor.

Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

Regarding drinking alcohol, including beer, wine, spirits, etc. while breastfeeding, research shows that alcohol in the milk can harm a child’s development, sleep, and learning capabilities. For this reason, breastfeeding women should be very cautious about consuming alcohol, if they choose to drink alcohol at all.

Has someone close to you said they drank alcohol during pregnancy and their child is fine?

It is not just about how much or when a woman drinks alcohol that affects the developing baby. There are several other factors that also determine if a baby is impacted by a pregnant woman’s alcohol consumption, including her genetics, nutrition, age, etc. These variables differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. The best way to ensure a healthy baby is to avoid alcohol altogether while pregnant.

There is No Safe Amount of Alcohol to Consume During Pregnancy!

What is a safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy?

To date, there is no research that has conclusively proven there is any safe amount of alcohol that a woman can consume during pregnancy, and the type doesn’t matter either (i.e. beer, wine, spirits, etc.). There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.

Can I have just one drink of alcohol while pregnant?

When a woman is drinking alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol travels through her blood and into the baby’s blood, tissues, and organs. That means when a pregnant mom has a glass of wine or beer, etc., her baby has a glass too. The woman’s liver works hard to break down the alcohol in her blood, but a baby’s liver is too small to do the same. That is why alcohol is much more harmful to a baby than to a woman during pregnancy.

Have you heard others say, “having one drink of alcohol while pregnant will be okay”?

No study has proven there is a safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. We know that alcohol is a teratogen and can cause permanent brain damage to a developing baby. Why take the risk? All major medical associations including the CDC, the U.S. Surgeon General, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree and advise pregnant women not to drink alcohol at all during their pregnancy.

What is FASD / Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

What is FASD?

FASD stands for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in a developing baby that was prenatally exposed to alcohol.

Is there a cure for FASD?

Unfortunately, FASD cannot be cured. The brain damage that occurs to an unborn baby when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol cannot be changed or reversed.

Is FASD hereditary?

No. FASD cannot be “passed on” from a mother to a child like having brown eyes can be passed on. The only way for women with an FASD to have a child with an FASD is for that woman to drink alcohol when she is pregnant.

How would I know if I or my child have an FASD?

If you think it’s possible that you or your child has an FASD, visit our Screening & Diagnosis page for help. Or, visit our Resource Directory to find the resources you need near you.

Doesn’t Fetal Alcohol Syndrome usually occur in children of women who are poor and from a minority group?

This disability, FASD, affects all ethnicities and people from all income levels. In fact, a recent Department of Health study tells us that high / at risk drinkers during pregnancy tend to be single, college educated women with incomes above $50,000 annually.


Reach out

We’d love to hear from you!

Please use this form to share your stories, ask questions, and build connections.

"*" indicates required fields