It is best to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy, as any alcohol you drink while pregnant will reach your baby and may cause harm. Women who are trying to conceive should also avoid drinking alcohol.
There is no ‘safe’ time for drinking alcohol during your pregnancy and there is no ‘safe’ limit. We do know that the risk of damage increases the more you drink. Drinking no alcohol during your pregnancy is the best and safest choice.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Drinking alcohol in pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of a wide range of development issues and physical disabilities including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Although children with FASD can look healthy, the effects can include physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities. One particular disorder in FASD is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Children with FAS have restricted growth, distinctive facial features including small eyes and flat area between the nose and upper lip, and lifelong learning and behavioural problems. If you have any concerns, your midwife, GP or other healthcare staff will be happy to discuss these with you.
Breastfeeding and alcohol
For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option for your baby's development. Alcohol passes from your bloodstream into your breast milk and this can affect her sleeping patterns. We also know that alcohol can reduce your supply of breast milk and it is particularly important in the first few weeks to be able to fully establish your supply of milk. For special occasions, avoid drinking just before breastfeeding, or express your milk beforehand to give to your baby later.