I’m a man so I don’t need to stop drinking while trying for a baby, right?  Wrong.

We all know that what a mother eats and drinks during pregnancy can impact the health of her baby. But did you know that a father’s drinking can also impact his developing baby?

If you and your partner are trying to conceive, this news may come as a shock to you. It’s understandable that you might not have thought about it before. What you need to know now is what scientists have been learning during the last few years. More and more research has found that how much alcohol you consume can play a massive role in determining the health of your baby.

Research has found that:

  • Drinking alcohol can affect the chances of your partner getting pregnant by as much as one-third. That is, when you drink alcohol there is 33% less chance that your partner will get pregnant.
  • For men who drank ten or more drinks per week while trying to conceive, the risk of miscarriage increased by two to five times.
  • Daily alcohol consumption while trying to conceive was associated with lower birth weight and possible heart defects for the baby.

Guidelines by the Australian Drug Foundation recommend that men should stop drinking alcohol at least three months prior to starting to try for a baby. This gives your baby the best chance of having the healthiest start in life.

We understand that it can be difficult to stop drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a major part of Australian culture, especially when it comes to socialising. You might be pressured by others to drink.

We have some tips on how to stop drinking in our blog for men here. If you need some more ideas you could try some of these below:

  • Speak to your partner about your desire to stop drinking alcohol and explain the reasons why. Show her this article and have a discussion about what’s best for you, your partner and your growing family. Come to an agreement about what your stance is on alcohol. As we mentioned earlier, not drinking at all is safest for your baby.
  • Come up with a plan on how to stay alcohol-free while trying for a baby. Hopefully you’ll soon be expecting, but of course there is always the chance that it may take longer to conceive than you’d hoped for. For this reason, its good think about if you can stick to your plan for 12 months or so, just to be on the safe side. You might also choose to stay alcohol-free during the pregnancy, to support your partner to keep your baby safe.
  • Think about what some of your high-risk situations (or triggers) for drinking alcohol are. It might be on a Saturday night when your mates invite you out. Or it might be on a weeknight at home after a busy day at work. You might choose to have alcohol-free alternatives on hand for these occasions. Options include Sans Drinks, Craft Zero, Clear Mind Non-Alcoholic European Beverages, Etch Sparkling, Lyres Non-Alcoholic Spirits and Seedlip.
  • Speak to your mates about why you choose not to drink alcohol. You might be surprised at their response because chances are they have never thought about it before. Your friends should support your decision and not pressure you to drink when you don’t want to. If you find that you are being pressured, it may be worth considering how much contact you want to have with them while you and your partner try for a baby.
  • Access resources and learn as much as you can. Just remember that not all information on the internet is fact-based so make sure you read information from credible sources. We recommend you speak to your GP or doctor or visit reputable sources such as the Department of Health, Better Health Channel and Raising Children.

This is such an exciting time of your life. There are so many things to look forward to and it is a great time for you and your partner to think about your habits as you  progress towards parenthood. Not drinking alcohol is not only better for you and your baby, it also sets you up to be a positive role model for your newest family member.

 

If you want support to change your relationship with alcohol visit Hello Sunday Morning or Sober in the Country, or speak to your GP or health professional.

 

For further information on the research quoted in this article, see:

Parental alcohol consumption and the risk of congenital heart diseases in offspring

Australian Drug Foundation

 

Many women ask “Can I drink alcohol while trying to get pregnant?” or “Can I have a glass of wine while pregnant?”.
Studies show that even small amounts of alcohol can harm a developing fetus, even in those early weeks before you’re aware you have conceived. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that “To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol.” Learn more. By abstaining while you’re trying to conceive, you are supporting your partner to stay alcohol-free through her pregnancy, right from the moment of conception. This is a wonderful gift to your partner and your child.

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