Based on advice from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the safest option for women is to abstain from drinking if they are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding*.
Should we drink if we are planning a pregnancy?
If you’re planning a pregnancy, it’s important for you both to be in your best physical condition to increase the likelihood of conceiving a healthy baby. This means it’s a good idea to understand how alcohol can affect your chance of conceiving.
Drinking alcohol can affect both women’s and men’s fertility. Research has found that even drinking moderately can increase the time it takes to get pregnant and reduce the chances of having a healthy baby.
Effects on women
Drinking even small amounts of alcohol can increase the time it takes to get pregnant. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle and ovulation, which can make it difﬁcult to conceive.
Effects on men
Drinking alcohol excessively can decrease sex drive and performance. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also reduce the amount of testosterone in the blood and increase the risk of male fertility problems.
Should I drink while I’m pregnant?
The safest option for pregnant women and their babies is for the mother to abstain from drinking alcohol.
Alcohol crosses from the mother’s blood stream into the baby’s blood stream and can affect the baby’s development. If you are pregnant and drink then so does your baby and that can cause harm.
What if you drank before you knew you were pregnant?
If you consumed alcohol before you knew you were pregnant and have concerns, it’s important to talk to your doctor, obstetrician or midwife.
The risks of alcohol on pregnancy
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. This is a diagnostic term for severe neurodevelopmental impairments that result from brain damage caused by alcohol exposure before birth (you may see these as difficulties with physical activities, language, memory, learning and/or behaviour). Other effects of alcohol exposure during pregnancy can include miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight.
Partners of pregnant women
If it’s your partner who is pregnant, it’s really important to support them to stop drinking alcohol.
Should I drink while I’m breastfeeding?
The amount of alcohol in your blood is the same as the amount of alcohol in your breast milk. It’s therefore recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.
For more information about this, talk to your doctor, obstetrician or midwife, or visit:
- Australian Breastfeeding Association
- FASD Hub
- NOFASD Australia
- Telethon Kids Institute
- Your Fertility
* Please note, this advice comes from the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from alcohol. The NHMRC is currently undertaking a review of the guidelines – the guidelines will be updated here once the review is complete.
DrinkWise FASD Awareness Program – education resources
DrinkWise has created the DrinkWise FASD Awareness Program to increase consumer awareness about FASD and the importance of not drinking alcohol if planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding. The program includes educational brochures, posters and videos, for use in medical centre waiting rooms.
The videos feature well-known personalities, Deborah Mailman and Aaron Pedersen.
The brochures and posters provide information about the effects of alcohol on the body and recommend consumers to talk to their doctors, obstetricians or midwives if they would like more information about the risks of consuming alcohol while pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding. These resources can be downloaded below or ordered via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information about these resources and the DrinkWise FASD Awareness Program can be found here.DrinkWise alcohol & pregnancy printable
DrinkWise alcohol & pregnancy poster