Pregnancy

You’re expecting! Congratulations. Whether this is your first, your fifth, or your fifteenth pregnancy, you may be feeling some (or all!) of the following emotions: nervousness, excitement, confusion, anticipation, joy, and even fear! Most likely, you have heard a lot of well-wishes and a lot of advice, now that you are pregnant. You may be overwhelmed and even confused by this advice. Limited caffeine? No sushi? Tone down the exercise? And… no alcohol?

An alcohol-free pregnancy in an alcohol-friendly world can be a very difficult accomplishment. Struggles of addiction, lack of information, and lack of support are just some factors that can make staying alcohol-free during pregnancy difficult.

The facts about why NO ALCOHOL IS BEST WHILE PREGNANT:

– There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. Alcohol can affect a baby at any point during a pregnancy.

– The Central Nervous System (including the brain) develops over the entire pregnancy. Therefore, alcohol consumed at any point during a pregnancy can affect the brain’s development.

– Alcohol is a teratogen. This means that the placenta cannot filter it.

Hopefully, the people around you are supportive of your goal to have an alcohol-free pregnancy. This is a key factor in preventing FASD. Every person in a pregnant woman’s life can have a positive affect on the health of her baby.

WHAT CAN A PARTNER DO TO SUPPORT AN ALCOHOL-FREE PREGNANCY?

– Choose to be alcohol-free for 9 months (plus breast-feeding time!) with their partner.

– Help their partner de-stress by picking up a greater amount of the household work load.

– Offering to stay in with their partner while friends are out on the town.

– Encourage their partner to attend a pregnancy group, so they can share the experience with other women who are going through similar challenges and stressors.

– If it would be beneficial, encourage their partner to participate in an addictions support group.

– Remove alcohol from living areas.

– Coordinate alcohol-free dates: bowling, movies, picnics, cooking together, or walking downtown streets or country drives!

WHAT CAN A FRIEND/FAMILY MEMBER DO TO SUPPORT AN ALCOHOL-FREE PREGNANCY?

– Lend a listening ear for the stresses and the joys of your pregnant friend!

– Remind mutual friends to provide alternative drinks for your friend at house parties and social gatherings.

– Plan a date to help your friend shop for baby clothes, supplies, or work on the nursery to relieve pressure off of your pregnant friend and help her enjoy the excitement of expecting!

– Offer to go along with your friend to an alcohol-free event if she fears that another event will be too tempting, or stick by her side in a place where she may be tempted!

WHAT CAN MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC DO TO SUPPORT AN ALCOHOL-FREE PREGNANCY?

– If you are a bar/restaurant owner, provide non-alcohol drinks free-of-charge to your pregnant customers.

– Send a message like this one to a health care professional: http://t.cdc.gov/ecards/message.aspx?cardid=475&category=172

Recommendations for further reading:

Alcohol During Pregnancy FAQ, Best Start: Ontario’s Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre http://alcoholfreepregnancy.ca/eng/faq.html

Trying Differently: A Guide for Daily Living and Working with FASD, 4th ed. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon.  www.fassy.org