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Drinking during Pregnancy

Is it safe to drink alcohol when pregnant?

The Chief Medical Officers’ guideline is that:

  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
  • Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink, the greater the risk.

How does alcohol affect my unborn baby?

When you drink, alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and to your baby. 
A baby's liver is one of the last organs to develop and doesn't mature until the later stages of pregnancy. 
Your baby cannot process alcohol as well as you can, and too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect their development. 

Drinking alcohol, especially in the first three months of pregnancy, increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and your baby having a low birth weight.

Drinking after the first three months of your pregnancy could affect your baby after they're born. 
The risks are greater the more you drink. The effects include learning difficulties and behavioural problems.

Drinking heavily during pregnancy can cause your baby to develop foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).   FAS is a serious condition, in which children have:-

  • Restricted growth
  • Facial abnormalities
  • Learning and behavioural disorders, which are long lasting and may be lifelong

For more information on Foetal alcohol syndrome visit the NHS website.

If you worried about how much you have been drinking when pregnant, talk to your doctor or midwife