Give your baby the best possible start and avoid the risks of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should not drink alcohol. If you are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for your baby.
Through the evidence-based Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) provide Australians with evidence-based advice on the health effects of drinking alcohol. The guidelines advise that to prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.
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. You could be pregnant for a few weeks before knowing it.
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?
To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink 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
Prenatal alcohol exposure can cause FASD. This is a term used to describe a range of conditions that result from brain damage caused by alcohol exposure before birth. Other effects of alcohol exposure during pregnancy can include miscarriage, still birth, 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. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.
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
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.
The brochures and posters provide information about the effects of alcohol 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.
In September 2020, DrinkWise worked with Sally Pearson (Olympic champion and new mother) and Associate Professor Luke Burchill (Australia’s first Indigenous cardiologist) to promote the importance of abstaining from alcohol when planning a pregnancy, while pregnant and during breastfeeding, as part of International FASD Awareness Day (9 September 2020).
DrinkWise has also created educational videos featuring well-known personalities, Deborah Mailman and Aaron Pedersen.