Effects of alcohol consumption in pregnancy

When it comes to pregnancy, many women have various questions running through their minds. One question that women commonly ask concerning pregnancy is whether or not they should take alcohol while pregnant. If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you may wonder if it’s safe to take alcohol or even the extent of the effects of alcohol consumption in pregnancy.

Don’t worry, you are not alone. 

If you have any questions regarding the safety of whiskey or other alcohol consumption during pregnancy is safe, the simple answer is no. A recent study has shown that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The general guideline is to avoid drinking altogether all through your pregnancy.

alcohol effects in pregnancy

This article discusses the possible effects of alcohol consumption in pregnancy. Keep reading!

Alcohol and pregnancy

When you drink while pregnant, alcohol passes from your blood to your baby through the placenta. Your baby cannot process alcohol well at this stage because the liver is not yet developed. This means that your baby’s blood alcohol level remains increased compared to your alcohol level. This can harm your baby in different ways including a higher risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and cognitive disabilities.

The disabilities that arise as a result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy are collectively known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). 

In addition to the health risks to the baby, women who drink during pregnancy may put their health to risk due to the following:

What is FASD?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) refers to a range of physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities that a baby may experience due to alcohol exposure during pregnancy. 

alcohol effects in pregnancy

FASD is generally characterized by this range of symptoms:

  • Abnormal facial features such as a smooth ridge (philtrum) between the nose and upper lip.
  • Below average height
  • Small head size
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Low IQ 
  • Learning disabilities
  • Heart, kidney, or bone problems
  • Communication and speech problems
  • Low body weight

Is it safe to drink alcohol when trying to conceive?

As stated earlier, it is safest to abstain from alcohol from the period of conception up till the end of pregnancy. Studies have shown that chronic drinking may lead to changes in ovulation and menstrual cycles which consequently affect conception. Also, there is evidence to suggest that even moderate alcohol consumption can negatively affect the effectiveness of in vitro fertilization. Whether you are already pregnant or you are trying to conceive, the safest thing to do is to completely avoid alcohol consumption.

alcohol effects in pregnancy

However, if you find out you are pregnant after already having drunk in early pregnancy, you should give up further drinking. You should also speak to your doctor if you have concerns about your alcohol consumption could have affected your baby. 

Which amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy?

There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy. Experts generally ask pregnant women to stay away from alcohol all through pregnancy. Alcohol use during the first 3 months of pregnancy poses to be the most harmful. However, you should take note that alcohol can be harmful to your unborn child at any time during pregnancy. 

Alcohol includes beer, wine, wine coolers, spirits, and vodka. 

Tips to avoid during pregnancy

You must cut down on alcohol consumption totally if you’re trying to get pregnant or if you have discovered that you are pregnant. This may be difficult especially if you have a drinking habit or you’re frequently in social gatherings where people drink. Here are some helpful tips to help you stay away from alcohol all through your pregnancy:

  1. Avoid social gatherings where people may be drinking
  2. Remove all alcohol from your home
  3. Replace drinking with other activities 
  4. Seek support from friends and family by asking them not to bring alcohol into your home
  5. Try meditation and yoga
  6. Join a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  7. Seek professional help from a doctor or therapist


Doctors and experts have always advised against alcohol consumption at any time during pregnancy. There is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed while pregnant. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risks of miscarriage, stillbirths, low birth weight, and premature delivery. Fetal alcohol exposure can also result in a series of disabilities known as Fetal Alcohol Disorders Syndrome which can be very harmful to your baby.

If you are trying to conceive, you should give up alcohol consumption to prevent any risks to your baby when pregnancy finally occurs. In the same manner, if you didn’t know you were pregnant and drank alcohol, you should stop drinking as soon as you discover you’re pregnant. The sooner you cut down on alcohol, the higher the chance of having a healthy baby.

In a case where you find it difficult to control your drinking, you should avoid being around other people who drink. You can also seek help from a doctor or trained therapist.