Many people ask what is a safe amount to drink when pregnant? The answer is that the only way to guarantee that a child will not be born with FASD is to completely abstain from alcohol throughout a pregnancy. The Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol state very clearly that a mother’s alcohol consumption can harm her developing fetus. Recent research also links a father’s alcohol consumption to the health of his baby, with a father’s drinking patterns being linked to a range of altered neurological, behavioural and biochemical outcomes for his children and grandchildren (read more). For families who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option.
Recent research suggests that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) affects up to 5% of the population (read more). FASD is a lifelong physical and/or neurodevelopmental disability that can result from prenatal alcohol exposure. FASD results from parents either not being aware of the dangers of alcohol use when pregnant or planning a pregnancy, or not being supported to stay healthy and strong during pregnancy. Approximately 50% of Australian pregnancies are unplanned, meaning hundreds of thousands of babies are exposed to alcohol before the parents even know they are pregnant. Alcohol can cause damage to an unborn child at any time during pregnancy, even before a pregnancy has been confirmed.
For people who choose to drink alcohol, contraception is recommended to prevent an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. For anyone planning a pregnancy or who may be pregnant, it is safest to avoid alcohol completely.
Alcohol-free pregnancies are not the sole responsibility of women. Studies have shown huge benefits from receiving support from community members and partners. Women whose partners also decline alcohol are more likely to abstain throughout their pregnancies. Prince Harry sets an excellent example as a devoted father and husband by choosing to abstain from alcohol during the 9 months of Meghan Markle’s pregnancy (read more).
Avoiding alcohol in social situations can be really hard! Some ideas for saying no when you are pregnant, planning or could be pregnant:
• No thank you, I’m not drinking tonight.
• I have a big day tomorrow so no thanks.
• No thank you, but I’d love a lemonade.
• No thanks, I have to drive.
• I’m not feeling the best so would rather not, thanks.
If people know you’re pregnant they can support you in your healthy choice. In these situations you may choose to say:
• No thanks, I’m celebrating being pregnant!
• I’d rather have juice, thanks.
• No thanks, I’m being kind to my baby!
• My baby’s too young to drink alcohol!
The NOFASD Australia hotline is available 7 days a week to answer questions and discuss concerns – 1800 860 613 or contact us here.
Read more about alcohol and pregnancy here
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