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Having A Baby

Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

Drinking alcohol is not advised when pregnant, as it can be passed through the blood to the placenta and your baby's undeveloped liver can't process it. It is not fully clear what level of alcohol is harmful to babies in the womb so it is best to avoid drinking if you can.

It may not be as difficult as you think to avoid alcohol. Many people tell us they go off the taste of alcohol early in their pregnancy.

If you find out you're pregnant after already having drunk in early pregnancy, you should avoid further drinking. Try not to worry as the risks of your baby being affected during the early stages are likely to be low.

If you are pregnant and would like some support to cut down the amount you drink, you can talk to your GP, midwife or call Just One Number on 0300 300 0123. Health professionals will be able to help you to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. 


How Does Alcohol Affect my Unborn Baby?

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to your developing baby. The more you drink, the greater the risk, because when you drink alcohol it passes through your blood to your unborn baby.

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

Tips on Avoiding Alcohol

  • Get support from your partner, family and friends - ask them not to offer to buy or pour you drinks.
  • Ask your partner to stop drinking too, or cut down what they drink.
  • Make use of the range of delicious non-alcoholic drinks available.

Alcohol Units

It is not recommended to drink while pregnant. If you do choose to drink, to protect your developing baby, you need to limit how many units you consume. Below is a rough guide of how many units are included in some common drinks.

Half pint beer = 1 unit

25ml spirits = 1 unit

125ml wine = 1.5 units

275ml bottle alcopop = 1.5 units

Use the unit calculator to find out how many units are in a particular drink, or to check how much you're drinking.

Unit Calculator


Who can Help?

If you feel worried and want more advice you can speak to your GP or midwife.

In Norfolk, Change Grow Live (CGL), an alcohol and drug behaviour change service can support you to make positive change.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below.

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