Alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding
If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to have a baby, the safest option is to not drink alcohol at all. Even a small amount of alcohol can harm an unborn baby's development and may have lifelong effects. Find out what the effects are and who you can contact for help and support.
Not drinking is the safest option
To help keep you and your baby healthy, avoid drinking alcohol when you’re:
- planning to become pregnant
Research by experts about alcohol and pregnancy shows that:
- there is no safe level of drinking — even a small amount of alcohol can harm an unborn and newborn baby
- the more you drink, the more likely it will harm the baby
This advice is from the National Health and Medical Research Council. For more about the Council's research, read the guidelines to reduce health risks from alcohol.
Effects of alcohol
When planning a pregnancy
- affect the fertility of both men and women. To improve your chances of becoming pregnant, avoid drinking alcohol.
- harm an unborn baby. Avoid alcohol if you’re planning to become pregnant because you won’t know exactly when it will happen.
Any alcohol you drink will pass through the placenta to your baby and can cause:
- lower birth weights
- premature birth
- birth defects
- a range of conditions known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
When you drink alcohol, it enters the breastmilk and can:
- stay there for several hours
- reduce the flow of your milk (this can unsettle your baby and cause them to eat and sleep less)
- affect how the baby’s brain and spinal cord develops
When you drink, the concentration of alcohol in your blood and breastmilk is the same.
How to stop drinking
It can be hard to stop drinking alcohol in social situations.
If you’re not ready to tell people you’re pregnant, try saying:
- I’m on a health kick and have given up alcohol
- No thanks, I’m not drinking tonight
- I have a big day tomorrow so no thanks
If you’re happy to tell people, simply say:
- No thanks, not while I’m pregnant
For support, try Pregnant Pause. It’s designed to help you, your partner and your loved ones go alcohol-free. Having a strong support network can make it easier to stop drinking.
For general tips, read how to reduce or quit alcohol.
When can you drink alcohol again?
The safest option is to avoid drinking until you finish breastfeeding.
If you start drinking again after you’ve finished breastfeeding, make sure you know how much alcohol is safe to drink.
If you’re worried about your alcohol drinking while pregnant, talk to your doctor, midwife or obstetrician. It may seem daunting, but remember that health professionals speak to lots of people about these issues.
For questions about drinking and pregnancy, you can also contact these organisations:
If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, no amount of alcohol is safe. Find out what the risks are. Read tips on how you can stop drinking while pregnant.