Keeping alcohol out of pregnancy should be easy, right?
Unfortunately, insufficient information and incorrect myths result in an alarming number of Australian pregnancies being exposed to alcohol every year. With approximately 50% of women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, many babies are prenatally exposed to alcohol before their parents know that they are pregnant. A 2016 study found that 60% of pregnancies are alcohol exposed, with 18.5% binge drinking (4 or more standard drinks) prior to pregnancy recognition. All of us have a responsibility to raise awareness and support alcohol-free pregnancy, from before the moment of conception.
Nicole and Tony planned to be alcohol-free right from day one of their pregnancies. They share some of their journey with us below.
Father - Tony
“When I heard about what alcohol could do to our bub, it’s bloody scary so my wife and I discussed how I could best support her in an alcohol free pregnancy. Although I didn’t give up alcohol entirely, I switched to only mid-strength beer and 3 alcohol free days per week. It was good to be able to support our pregnancy in a practical way and I felt better for it.”
Our questions for Tony:
Are you drinking alcohol while your partner is pregnant? Yes but only mid-strength beer.
How did you make this decision? The decision is easy, I know it’s important to Nic and seeing how healthy and amazing our first daughter is from the first pregnancy only inspired me further.
Some men say it would be really hard to give up alcohol. Do you have any tips for them? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you don’t want to give up because you enjoy beer, trying to give up completely could make you feel additional pressure and you may feel like you are not a good husband or dad if you can’t. It’s worth talking to your partner about a compromise. For us, if I remain sober and able to drive, Nic doesn’t notice me drinking alcohol so I can still have something that I find very enjoyable after a day of work while still supporting Nic in a meaningful way.
How do you say no to alcohol without people asking why or pressuring you to drink? I usually bring my own beer so I have something in my hand plus I say I’m too old to look after toddlers with a hangover!
Mother - Nicole
“Not drinking during pregnancy was much easier than I thought it would be, and I have never felt better. There are no words to describe how amazing it is to receive this beautiful, healthy daughter at the other end – it puts everything into perspective.”
Our questions for Nicole:
Did your friends and family know you were trying to conceive? If not, was it hard to turn down alcohol while keeping the pregnancy to yourself? Yes everyone knew – probably more than they wanted to! If anyone asked, they got an update on what stage my uterus was at in its cycle.
How did you say no to alcohol without people asking why or pressuring you to drink? I find humour is a great way to diffuse pressure and always responded with “no alcohol for me, I’m trying to make a hospitable womb”
What’s it like for you when your partner drinks alcohol, or when he declines a drink? I don’t really notice him drinking to be honest because he only has mid-strength beer and he only has a couple. When he declines heavier beers or getting tipsy, I feel supported in ways that are hard to describe – I just have a deep sense of knowing that he is on my team and we are in this together.
Did you ever have cravings for a drink? If yes, what did you do? Of course – especially at Christmas time when it was too early to test if I was pregnant or not. I really wanted some cider on the hot Christmas day so instead I had icy sparkling apple juice and it seemed to do the trick!
NOFASD Australia wishes Nicole and Tony all the very best with the arrival of their second baby this September!
Wondering why Nic and Tony are rocking their red shoes? Learn more about the international Red Shoes Rock movement and how you can get involved!
Some families choose not to tell anyone that they are trying or in the early stages of pregnancy. This creates challenges, as declining alcohol can be taken as an indication of pregnancy. These tips provide ideas for saying no to alcohol.
For some, giving up the habit of regular alcoholic drinks can prove challenging. These support services can help.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact us online or call 1800 860 613.
Read more NOFASD Australia blogs
UPDATE: Congratulations! Nicole and Tony welcomed their healthy, happy baby girl into the world!
She is already rocking her red shoes – what a beautiful little FASD advocate! #RedShoesRock