What you can do to support your partner during pregnancy – it’s more than you think
Most of us know that alcohol should not be consumed during pregnancy, because it can harm the developing baby. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines and the Australian Government states that for women who are pregnant, alcohol should not be consumed.
Unfortunately, research shows that more than half of pregnancies are exposed to alcohol each year in Australia. Alcohol-exposed pregnancies can lead to what is called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) – and its actually much more widespread than you might think. In fact, FASD is more common than autism, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and SIDS – combined.
This is a sad reality. Alcohol can negatively impact a baby in many serious ways, including leading to severe and permanent disability where the brain has not formed properly. This could mean sleep difficulties, problems at school, struggling to make friends, difficulty with coordination like catching or running, getting into trouble, mental health challenges and more.
But men, the good news is, you can help to prevent your baby from developing FASD.
Your support to help your pregnant partner stay alcohol-free makes a big difference in determining whether she drinks or not. You may play a bigger role than you think.
Did you know that:
- Most women who drink during their pregnancy do so at home.
- 75% of women who drink while pregnant do so with their partner.
- Male partners initiate drinking in women who are pregnant nearly 40% of the time.
- Women are more likely to drink more often when their partner drinks often and/or heavily, even outside the home.
- Partners and husbands can either be facilitators of women drinking while pregnant or inhibitors – that is, men just like you can either encourage their partners to drink during pregnancy (even subconsciously or without meaning to) or you can encourage them to have an alcohol-free pregnancy.
These facts show that alcohol use during pregnancy is not just a problem for the woman carrying the baby – it’s your role to support the woman in your life so your baby can be as happy and healthy as possible.
Deciding to make alcohol-free pregnancy a priority is a family decision, and a family responsibility – it is not just the responsibility of women.
Here are a few ways you can support your partner to be alcohol-free during pregnancy:
- Reduce your alcohol use or (even better) stop drinking alcohol while your partner is pregnant.
- Have alcohol-free alternatives in the house (such as soft drink, juice or sparkling water) or make your own alcohol-free creations (for mocktail recipes, click here).
- Back her up when she is being pressured to drink alcohol. You might want to come up with an agreed-upon reason for not drinking if it’s too early to announce your pregnancy.
- Take part in social and recreation activities that don’t involve alcohol.
- Talk to your mates about the reasons to stop drinking if they are pressuring you to drink. You might be surprised at how supportive they are once you educate them a little about the negative impacts of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. Click here for a fun video and some tips on how to have this conversation.
As a soon-to-be Dad, or a man who is going to become a Dad for second, or third (or fourth!) time, supporting your partner to stay alcohol-free is a way of showing that you care for her and your baby. Queensland father Tony shares his experience of supporting two alcohol-free pregnancies, read about it here.
This is a chance for you to be your partner’s best supporter and biggest cheerleader – and helps you to face all of those parenting challenges as a team, with a strong foundation built on doing what’s best for your family.
For more information about FASD and the impacts of alcohol-exposed pregnancies, click here.
For more ways to support your partner read the CanFASD fact sheet here.
If you aren’t sure where to turn to for support encouraging an alcohol-free pregnancy, contact NOFASD Australia on our online enquiries line or on our Helpline – 1800 860 613.
If you want to talk to someone about your own alcohol use (perhaps you’re struggling to reduce your drinking) you are not alone. Contact MensLine on 1300 789 978 or Hello Sunday Morning here.
For information relating to the statistics in this article, read Fathers’ Role in Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancies
For more NOFASD Australia blogs click here