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Alcohol while planning a pregnancy

alcohol; drinking; pregnancy; pregnant;


Can alcohol affect a baby during pregnancy?

Yes, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can harm a baby.

  • Alcohol crosses the placenta to the developing baby
  • The alcohol will reach the developing baby very quickly and its blood alcohol level will be the same as yours
  • Alcohol can cause permanent harm to a developing baby at any stage during the pregnancy
  • Alcohol can affect the baby's body and in particular the baby's brain development
  • You can't see the brain and you might not know if the baby is OK or not until the child is older.

So if you're planning a pregnancy or are pregnant - the safest option is to avoid alcohol.

  • Drinking alcohol can make it harder for you to get pregnant. While you are planning a pregnancy, it's a good idea to start cutting back on alcohol.

What if I drank alcohol before I knew I was pregnant?

Often pregnancy is unplanned and so women drink alcohol before they know they are pregnant.

  • Small amounts of alcohol consumed before you are aware of your pregnancy carries a lower risk but is still a risk
  • Heavy or binge drinking carries a higher risk for the baby

If you can, stop drinking alcohol as soon as you find out you are pregnant. If not, talk to your midwife or doctor.

Stopping alcohol use at any stage of the pregnancy will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.

Can drinking alcohol make it harder to get pregnant?

Drinking alcohol can make it harder for you to get pregnant so it's best to stop or cut back. If you are planning to be pregnant, plan not to drink.

  • If you stop drinking alcohol before you become pregnant you can improve your chances of becoming pregnant and be more likely to have a healthy baby.
  • It is best if you can do this three months or more before you become pregnant, but stopping drinking alcohol at any time when you are thinking of becoming pregnant is better than continuing to drink.

    If you are drinking, plan not to get pregnant.

    More information

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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