Can You Drink Alcohol While Pregnant?

drink when pregnant wine

You might wonder when a good time to stop working out is when pregnant, but what about other routines and habits? It’s still unknown what the exact health benefits or complications of light drinking while pregnant are. Depending on the country you are in you will likely find varying information about whether or not it’s considered safe to drink nothing alcoholic, a small glass of red wine, or other alcoholic beverages.

Although finding out that you have a new little one on the way is clearly a cause for celebration, you should hold off on toasting the momentous occasion. Try a non-alcoholic beverage at your baby shower or other events. 

Is there any harm in having a few drinks in the time before you know you’re pregnant, though?

What exactly are the effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant anyway? 

Can you drink substitutes that are non-alcoholic? 

Today, we’ll give you the answers to these questions, and more. 

Medical Recommendations For Drinking While Pregnant

Though the recommendations have changed over the years, and some people still argue that a little drinking while pregnant is safe, the National Health and Medical Research Council advises that pregnant women consume no alcohol.

Even a glass of wine can potentially affect your unborn baby, so there’s no truly safe level of consumption for alcohol while pregnant. 

Why is this?

When pregnant, everything you eat and drink can reach your unborn child through the placenta. 

As an adult, your body can process alcohol through the liver, but a tiny unborn baby is not yet able to do this, so it can harm the baby in the womb.

Before You Know You’re Pregnant

Some mothers-to-be will realize that they indulged in some alcohol before they knew they were pregnant. This can bring about a great deal of worry but is there cause for concern?

The first few weeks of any pregnancy are a critical time of development for the baby. This development is rapid, though, so healthy cells should quickly negate any negative effects induced by consuming alcohol.

Though it’s not recommended you drink alcohol while trying to conceive either, it’s not possible to know for sure when you’ll get a positive pregnancy test. Therefore, it’s impossible to know if you had a drink while in the early stages of pregnancy. There’s also no meaningful way to refrain from it, aside from complete abstinence.

If you are actively trying to conceive a child, consider leaving all alcohol alone. Once you have a positive pregnancy test, immediately stop drinking alcohol.

If you did happen to have a drink during the early stages of your pregnancy, however, mention it to your doctor. He can quickly determine if things with the baby are okay or if there’s any cause for concern. This can give you peace of mind, rather than needlessly stressing at a time when you need to relax.

Effects Of Drinking While Pregnant 

As we mentioned, drinking even small amounts of alcohol while “with child” can cause damage to the unborn baby. 

Consumption of alcohol can result in a range of problems for the pregnancy and the child. These problems include physical, mental, and developmental disabilities that can result in problems for your child.

Some of these disorders and disabilities can include:

  • Problems with hearing and eyesight.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Delays in speech and language.
  • Low IQ.
  • Developmental problems with skeletal, nervous, and urinary systems.
  • Microcephaly and abnormally sized eyes.

Drinking while pregnant can also result in a range of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorders.

Beyond this, a devastating statistic associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant is that the risk of miscarriage is raised by fully 30% during the first trimester and up to 70% over the second trimester. 

Alcoholic Substitutions

Consuming alcohol is often part and parcel of social situations, so many women who are excited about the new baby might find themselves sad at the prospect of nine or more months without a drink. Not to worry, though, there are alternatives.

drinking pregnant mocktail

There are many types of non-alcoholic beer and wine you can safely enjoy throughout pregnancy, but you should still be careful with these. Though labelled alcohol-free, some brands have still been shown to have trace amounts of alcohol in them. Even this could result in harm to your unborn baby.

There are also plenty of delicious mocktails and virgin drinks made with no alcohol at all.

If you find quitting the alcohol is hard even knowing you are pregnant, be sure to speak with your doctor, midwife or obstetrician right away.



Kids, chai latte's, blueberry muffins, and reading way too many books... That pretty much sums up Louise. She's also passionate about giving back to the community, in this case through this site, finding and answering questions about parenting.
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