Are you pregnant, considering pregnancy or breastfeeding?

Alcohol use may not be safe for you and your baby.

Did you know?

Alcohol at any time during your pregnancy may affect your baby’s development.

Breastfeeding and Alcohol

Alcohol can enter the baby’s bloodstream if you are drinking and breastfeeding. The safest approach would be to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding.

Pregnancy, alcohol, and staying home during COVID-19

Remember to say NO to alcohol.

Alcohol use during pregnancy can have a harmful effect on the health of the mother and baby.

Based on what we know right now about the effects of alcohol on pregnancy and the baby’s development, you should avoid alcohol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Did you know?

There is strong evidence showing the harmful effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant or when breastfeeding. Alcohol can enter the baby's bloodstream and may lead to the development of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause lifelong physical, mental, and behavioural disabilities for the child.

If you are thinking about pregnancy, are pregnant or breastfeeding, the safest option is to not have any alcohol at all. It can be hard to discuss alcohol use, but know that talking to a health care provider is the best option to get the support both mom and baby need.

Fast Facts

There is no known safe amount or safe time to have alcohol during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the most common preventable cause of neurodevelopmental disability in Canada

Unplanned pregnancies are very common, so it is also common that most women who had alcohol early in their pregnancy did not know they were pregnant.

It can take up to 2 hours or more before one drink is eliminated from the bloodstream.

All types of alcohol can harm the baby’s development, there is no difference in risk based on what kind of drink was had.

Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding can disturb the baby’s sleep pattern.

Breastfeeding and Alcohol

Alcohol can reduce the amount of milk available to the baby, the baby may not like the taste of the milk, and alcohol can enter their bloodstream.

If you are breastfeeding and thinking about having alcohol, limit your intake to a minimum standard drink. A standard drink is:

  • Beer (5%): 341 ml (12 oz)
  • Wine (12%): 142 ml (5 oz)
  • Spirits (40%): 43 ml (1.5 oz)

But remember, alcohol content can vary depending on the type of drink and sometimes a large glass means you had more to drink than a standard size. Adjust the amount, and keep in mind the best option is to avoid alcohol entirely.

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Support and Additional Options

If you had alcohol before you knew were pregnant and are worried about your use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, speak to your health care provider.

Community drop-in and Parent-Child Assistance Programs in Canada are listed here:

You can also find a listing of counseling, day treatment and live-in treatment options online through your local or regional ministry of health website.

At events where there may be alcohol, you can choose other beverage options such as mocktails, flavoured sparkling water, or fruit drinks.

Pregnancy, alcohol, and staying home during COVID-19

Remember to say NO to alcohol.

  • Drinking alcohol when you are pregnant or breastfeeding may harm your baby.
  • Not drinking alcohol helps you make good choices for you and your baby.
  • Picking nutritious foods helps keep you and your baby healthy.
  • Drinking alcohol does not kill viruses or protect you from catching them.
  • Learning a new hobby and trying new activities can help you feel better while staying at home. If you are sad and can’t seem to feel better, talk to your doctor or midwife.

If you are pregnant and are worried about previous or current alcohol use, we encourage you to speak to your health care provider to discuss your situation and to explore your options.

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