Alcohol in pregnancy

Alcohol and Pregnancy

Can I drink alcohol when I’m pregnant?
The safest approach in pregnancy is to choose not to drink at all. It is important to be aware that when you drink alcohol, your baby also drinks.
Harm can happen even when small amounts of alcohol are consumed. This harm may not become evident until childhood.

The risk of damage to your baby’s physical, neurological and mental development increases the more you drink and binge drinking is specially harmful. This risk relates to a range of conditions which are known as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

Further information on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is available on

What if I have been drinking alcohol before I knew I was pregnant?
Please be reassured that if you drank small amounts of alcohol around the time of conception there is very little risk of harm to the baby in your womb. A single episode of ‘binge drinking’* at that stage is less likely to be harmful to the baby.

It is important, however, to be aware that drinking, whether in small amounts, or binge drinking’* can be harmful to the developing baby and there is increased risk of early miscarriage.


5 standard drinks for women.
(1 standard drinks = 10 Grams/1unit of alcohol, ROI)
Pregnant mums should always consult with their Midwife/Health Professional
if they have any concerns about their alcohol intake.

How does alcohol affect the unborn baby?
Alcohol is a toxic substance; it passes from the Mother’s bloodstream through the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream. This occurs because the placenta is not a filter and the unborn baby does not have a developed liver to process any alcohol.


1. The baby’s growth and development in the womb and during his
or her entire lifetime.
2. The baby’s/child long term physical and mental health
3. The child’s ability to learn and retain information (learning difficulties)

Reference: Alcohol and Pregnancy, HSE 2013
University Hospital Galway Maternity Care Booklet

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