Healthy Pregnancy Guide Banner Image

Alcohol & Pregnancy

Most women give up alcohol when they find out they are pregnant but many have questions about why alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix.

Is there a safe time to drink alcohol in pregnancy?
There is no safe time to drink alcohol in pregnancy. Alcohol passes directly from a woman’s bloodstream across the placenta and into the baby’s bloodstream. It can cause permanent harm to the baby’s brain and nervous system which grows and develops throughout pregnancy.

What if I drank alcohol before I knew I was pregnant?
The risk of your baby being affected with small amounts of alcohol is likely very low. If you are worried about the amount of alcohol you drank before learning you were pregnant, talk to your health care provider.

Is an occasional drink okay?
It is best not to drink any alcohol in pregnancy, even once in a while, because there is no known safe amount. We know that the more alcohol a woman drinks the greater the risk to her unborn baby. The risk is highest when a woman drinks frequently or binge drinks. But the harmful effects may also depend on the pattern and the timing of alcohol use, the overall health of the woman and her use of other drugs.

What harm does alcohol cause?
Drinking in pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and a baby being born too early or too small. It can also cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). FASD is the term used to describe the physical, mental, behaviour and learning problems that are caused by alcohol use in pregnancy. These life-long disabilities range from mild to severe. Not all women who drink alcohol in pregnancy will have a baby with FASD.

Alcohol & Pregnancy don’t Mix!
The safest choice is to avoid alcohol when you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
It’s never too late to reduce the risks.
Ask your friends and family for their support in not serving you alcohol.

If you are worried that you are drinking too much or are finding it hard to stop, talk to your health care provider or reach out to Fourcast. Their Umbrella’s program provides treatment services to women who are pregnant or have children 0-6 years. Staff will support you to choose and follow the treatment path that is right for you. Financial assistance for transportation and childcare may also be available.

The decision to seek help is a personal one. And while stopping alcohol use can be difficult, you can recover. Get help as early as possible in pregnancy to increase your chances of having a healthy baby and staying healthy and safe yourself.

Myth: It’s okay to drink beer while you’re pregnant, but not
hard liquor.

No alcohol is safe to drink in pregnancy. Beer, wine, cocktails, coolers, hard liquors, liqueurs and hard cider all contain alcohol that can cause harm. Cooking with alcohol is safe when it is boiled as it evaporates away!

back button to navigate back to previous page next button to navigate to next page