Alcohol during pregnancy…is it worth the risk?

Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t eat some fish or certain cheeses, don’t drink too much coffee…is there anything that I can do if I’m pregnant?

You read and hear so many recommendations about what to do or not to do during pregnancy, it seems impossible to follow them all.  For me, being a prenatal teacher and learning about many of the things to avoid I felt I needed to prioritized my choices based on the most current research.  Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is sometimes seen as a grey area since the research does not conclude a safe amount or time during the pregnancy for alcohol use.  For me, I decided to abstain from alcohol to give my baby the best chance.

But what about just having that one glass of wine with dinner?  It’s not uncommon for women to choose to have small amounts of alcohol occasionally during pregnancy.  This is possibly with the understanding that the risk to the unborn baby in most situations is likely minimal. However, it is important that you make an informed decision that is best for you and your unborn baby.

What we know is that there are no known benefits to alcohol use during pregnancy. However, there are many associated concerns.  The consequences could be quite mild, difficult to diagnose (like with learning disabilities), or as severe as still birth or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  Alcohol freely passes through the placenta and reaches the unborn baby.  The baby receives the same concentration of alcohol but it stays in their system for even longer.  Since the baby’s brain is developing the entire pregnancy and alcohol is a toxin, alcohol could affect your unborn baby’s brain development at anytime.

Even with understanding all the risks it can be difficult to avoid alcohol for many.  I remember at a wedding the summer I was pregnant with my first.  We had not yet announced the pregnancy so not drinking would be an obvious statement to many.  Having my husband go to the bar to get me virgin drinks (and at times almost being rude to not let others get me a drink) was one way to stay alcohol-free.  Even when others were aware of the pregnancy, it was great to be offered non-alcoholic drinks.  Having friends and family that supported my choice during the pregnancy made it easier as well.

If making the decision to abstain from alcohol during your pregnancy is a more difficult choice there are many supports and services in our community to help.  If you have had alcohol during your pregnancy (even if it was before you knew you were pregnant) you can discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider or click here for more information.

Everyone wants the best for their baby; choosing not to drink and or getting help to stop drinking is one way to do what is best for your baby.

Share your experience:

For more tips and hints about pregnancy, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:

  • Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
  • Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
  • Email us at
  • Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest blogger:

Caroline Shaw BScN, RN is a Public Health Nurse on the Early Years Health Team as a facilitator for prenatal classes and new parent groups. She loves working with so many motivated parents and their special little ones at such an exciting time of their lives. She knows the excitement continues as she has 2 boys of her own that are starting school and enjoy playing hockey (and almost all other sports).

This entry was posted in Before Pregnancy, Parenting, Pregnancy, Prenatal Health and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Alcohol during pregnancy…is it worth the risk?

  1. Pingback: Alcohol during pregnancy…is it worth the risk? | HaltonParents | Having A Healthy Baby

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s