Alcohol exposure during pregnancy can cause adverse effects for a baby which last a lifetime. Even small amounts of alcohol can have a big impact on health, the most severe outcome being Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Alcohol passes from a mother’s blood to her baby’s through the placenta, and the baby does not possess the ability to metabolise alcohol safely. The National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) guidelines advise that “to prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol”. Read the NHMRC guidelines here.
Australia has a strong drinking culture, with alcohol used for socialising, celebrations, relaxation, and to cope with stress and sadness. It can be very challenging to navigate this culture as a woman trying to conceive or already pregnant. It can be hard to not succumb to the pressures of your friends, families and peers, making it difficult to have an alcohol-free pregnancy. Many women face the added challenge of not wanting to tell people (yet) that they are planning a family or in the first weeks of pregnancy.
Whether you are trying to conceive, pregnant and not yet ready to announce it, or pregnant and telling people, here at NOFASD we have you covered! We compiled a list of reasons for you to say no to alcohol, to help you keep your unborn baby safe.
- No thanks, I’m not drinking tonight.
- No thanks, but I would love a (insert any non-alcoholic drink) instead.
- I have a big day tomorrow, so no thanks.
- I’m the designated driver, so I can’t.
- I’m not feeling the best so I would rather not, thanks.
- No thanks, I’m celebrating being pregnant!
- No thanks, not while I’m pregnant.
- No thanks, I’ve got to pick up my kids after this.
Who doesn’t love a good laugh! You can use humour to diffuse a situation or change the topic of the conversation.
- I can’t drink, I have to perform brain surgery tomorrow 😉
- No alcohol for me, I’m trying to make a hospitable womb.
- No thanks, I’m giving my liver a break!
- My coordination is already terrible, I don’t need to make it worse.
- No thanks, my baby’s too young to drink alcohol!
- I don’t need to drink, I’m already the life of the party!
- No thanks, I’m saving up all my room for dessert/dinner/lunch.
- For the price of a drink I could buy a burger and fries.
Health related responses:
Perhaps you have a friend or family member who is a little more persistent? Using a health-related response can help put an end to ongoing questions.
- I can’t drink, I’m on antibiotics.
- No thanks, alcohol is dangerous for my baby.
- I’m cutting back on alcohol for health-related reasons, I’d appreciate your support.
- No thanks, I’ve got a blood test tomorrow.
- I’m on a strict elimination diet – no alcohol, doctor’s orders!
- I’m doing a detox, so no thanks.
- Alcohol messes with my sleep, and I love to sleep!
- I’m going for six-pack abs, so I’m cutting out all the bad stuff. No alcohol for me!
- No thanks, when I drink alcohol so does my baby!
- I’m going gluten and sugar free, so no alcohol for me right now.
- No thanks, alcohol makes me anxious.
- I’m on a health kick and drinking doesn’t fit into my new lifestyle.
- Alcohol makes me really tired; I don’t want to miss anything.
- I’m planning on having a baby, I don’t want to risk it.
- Alcohol gives me bad headaches, no thanks.
- I think I’m allergic, I’ll pass.
Tips and tricks:
- Arrive early and order or pour your own non-alcoholic drink.
- Have a mocktail instead. Click here for NOFASD’s delicious mocktail recipes.
- If you feel the pressure may be too much, do something else.
- Bring your own zero-alcohol drinks. These can look just like everyone else’s beer and wine – a great option if you’re not telling people you’re pregnant.
- Have a ‘partner in crime’ – someone who will support your abstinence.
- Ask your partner to be alcohol-free too.
- Prepare and practice your responses for when people ask about, or offer, alcohol.
- Feel free to stand by your choices and simply and firmly say no.
- See here for a guide to an alcohol-free celebration.
It can be difficult to deal with the questions, disappointment and peer pressure that come with saying no to alcohol. It is important to remember that it is your body and therefore your choice. Standing by your choices is empowering and is beneficial for your health as well as for healthy conception and pregnancy.
Please remember that women are not in this alone. Healthy pregnancies are not your sole responsibility – your friends, family and partner can support you in your journey. Men, see here for how you can be a great dad even before your baby is born! Or read more about planning an alcohol-free pregnancy.
If you have any questions, concerns or need support please contact us online or call 1800 860 613.
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