Drinking alcohol while pregnant

It's recommended that if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant you should not drink alcohol. This will keep any risk to your baby to a minimum.

Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink, the greater the risk.

How does alcohol affect my unborn baby?

When you drink, alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta to your baby and can seriously affect its development.

Your baby does not have a fully developed liver and cannot process alcohol.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and your baby having a low birthweight. It can also affect your baby after they're born.

Drinking during pregnancy can cause your baby to develop a serious life-long condition called foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

FASD can cause problems with:

The risk is likely to be greater the more you drink.

How to avoid alcohol in pregnancy

It may not be as difficult as you think to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy. Many women go off the taste of alcohol early in pregnancy.

Most women give up alcohol once they know they're pregnant or when they're planning to become pregnant.

Women who find out they're pregnant after already having drunk in early pregnancy should avoid further drinking for the rest of their pregnancy.

However, they should not worry unnecessarily, as the risks of their baby being affected are likely to be low. If you're concerned, talk to a midwife or doctor.

Find tips for avoiding alcohol in pregnancy on the Tommy’s website.

Getting help to stop drinking alcohol

If you have difficulty stopping drinking, talk to a midwife, doctor or pharmacist.

Confidential help and support is also available from a number of different organisations, including:

Find your nearest alcohol support services

Read more advice about cutting down your drinking