Reducing harm caused by alcohol

Alcohol and pregnancy

The NHS remains committed to ensuring that women are supported and cared for safely through pregnancy, birth and the period afterwards during the coronavirus pandemic when there will be extra pressures on healthcare services.

Think you might be or just discovered that you’re pregnant? 

You might be aware that certain foods should be avoided or limited due to the potential harm that they can cause in pregnancy but did you know it’s advised that alcohol should be avoided too?

If you are pregnant (or could become so), the UK Chief Medical Officer’s advice is that no alcohol is the safest option.  Find out more about alcohol and pregnancy 

Drinking in pregnancy can increase the chances of miscarriage and may lead to life-long harm to the baby, with the more you drink, the greater the risk. A baby’s brain and body develop during the entire pregnancy, alcohol can affect this development and result in a number of lifelong physical, emotional and developmental difficulties.

Looking after yourself and keeping healthy will give your baby the best start in life. 

This leaflet created by the Fetal Alcohol Advisory and Support Team in NHS Ayrshire & Arran provides further information and guidance on alcohol and pregnancy

Covid and pregnancy

I’ve discovered I’m pregnant and I’ve been drinking

If you’ve only drunk small amounts of alcohol before you knew you were pregnant the risks to your baby are likely to be low. The most important thing you can do now is stop drinking. If you need support, speak to your midwife or GP. They are still available to support you throughout your pregnancy.

Focus on taking care of yourself - try to eat healthily and keep stress levels as low as possible. 

If you are worried, speak to your GP or midwife.

If you think that you have a problem with alcohol, and are pregnant, contact your GP surgery or local alcohol service for advice and support to help you cut down and stop drinking.  

Top tips for pregnancy during Covid-19

I don’t want anyone to know that I’m pregnant at the moment

It’s important that you contact a midwife as soon as you know you are pregnant. You can do this by contacting your GP, or in some areas you can contact NHS maternity services directly. It’s also a good idea to share the news with someone you trust.

It may be that you don’t want to reveal that you are pregnant at the moment to people in your household. No one should ever feel pressured into drinking, however, if you need ideas for refusing alcohol, you could consider some of the following. It is best if you can think of a reason that you can stick to.

1. Say you are just trying to stay healthy to avoid the virus – alcohol weakens the immune system after all!

2.  Say drinking has been making you feel groggy the next day and you want to lay off the alcohol for a while – even one drink can affect your sleep.

3. You just fancy a break from drinking for a while! (you’re not stopping them after all, so why would they push you to drink?)

For general information on looking after yourself in pregnancy visit NHS Inform