What happens when you drink alcohol during pregnancy?

It’s worth remembering that every time you have a drink of alcohol during your pregnancy, you share it with your unborn baby and it has been proven that drinking on a regular basis may be harmful.

Alcohol quickly reaches your baby across the placenta. You may be surprised to know that it enters your baby’s bloodstream at around the same levels of concentration present in your blood, but it takes them twice as long to expel it from their system as their liver is not mature until the last half of pregnancy.

alcohol

What are the long-term effects of drinking alcohol in pregnancy on your baby?

Drinking over two units of alcohol a day means your baby is more likely to have problems with learning, speech, attention span, language and hyperactivity. These harmful effects are known as Foetal Alcohol Effects (FAE).

If you drink over six units of alcohol a day during your pregnancy, you put yourself at risk of having a baby with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This severe condition causes children to suffer from mental and growth retardation, behavioural problems, and facial and heart defects.

Drinking alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy

The truth is that researchers don’t know what having a few glasses of alcohol can do to your baby during the early stages of pregnancy. Many women have often had a drink before they even knew they were pregnant (and have had healthy babies). As soon as you do know though, it’s best to steer clear.

If you are planning to get pregnant, you may want to give up completely beforehand to save yourself any worry!

What counts as a unit of alcohol?

If you’re socialising with friends at their homes, keep in mind that lots of people tend to be generous with their alcohol pouring and a pub wine glass might be quite a bit smaller than your friend’s favourite goblet style!

One unit is:

  • ½  pint of ordinary strength beer, lager, or cider
  •  ¼ pint of strong beer or lager
  • 1 small glass of wine
  • 1 single measure of spirits
  • 1 small glass of sherry
 
alcohol

So what can you drink instead?

Alcohol and pregnancy really don’t mix that well, so why not choose a non-alcoholic wine or beer? Or you could try your hand at mixing one of these virgin cocktails:

Virgin Sea Breeze
Cranberry juice
Grapefruit juice
Pour equal amounts of the two juices into a glass and stir. This is very refreshing!

Cool Banana
½ cup frozen yoghurt
½ banana
¾ cup milk
Pour all the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth before serving on ice. This treat also helps with your dairy count!

Virgin Margarita
15ml Lime juice
15ml Orange juice
45ml Sour mix
Add all the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a frosted glass. Enjoy.

Back to top

Looking for something else?