Pregnancy Health: Drinking Alcohol

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, you can cause harm to your baby. Quit for your baby.

As soon as you know you are pregnant, think you could be pregnant or are trying to get pregnant, you must avoid drinking alcohol.

When you are hapū, any alcohol you consume – such as beer, wine, cider, spirits, or RTDs – is carried through your blood to the placenta/whenua and to your baby. If you drink alcohol, your baby is affected by alcohol too.

The Ministry of Health and the Health Promotion Agency advises that there is no safe level of alcohol to consume during any stage of pregnancy so you need to avoid alcohol altogether.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can harm your baby – it can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). FASD can cause lifelong problems including damage to your baby’s brain, developmental delays, behavioural problems, heart defects, being born at low birth weight, intellectual disability, distinctive facial features, and birth defects. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy also increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.

The more you drink and the more often you drink alcohol, the greater the risk to your baby. The safest option is to avoid alcohol altogether. The sooner you stop drinking, the better for your baby – it’s never too late to stop.

If you are worried that your drinking might be harmful or you’re struggling to stop drinking, consult your GP or LMC for advice.

It can be hard to tell people you aren’t drinking especially if they ask why and you aren’t ready to share the news of your pregnancy yet. Our favourite excuses are… you’re on antibiotics, you’re driving, you’ve started a new clean eating regime, you’re training for an athletic event like a half marathon, or you’re trying to save money. It’s important not to let friends pressure you into drinking if you’re pregnant.

The Alcohol Drug Helpline is available 24/7 for free, confidential support. Call 0800 787 797.