Department of Health
Alcohol in Pregnancy
Guidelines

Department of Health Alcohol in Pregnancy Guidelines

Is it safe to drink alcohol when pregnant? How much alcohol can I drink when pregnant? Can I drink in my third trimester?

These are all common questions asked by women who are pregnant with the typical answers being along the lines of:

"You can have one or two units, no more than once or twice a week"

"You shouldn’t drink in your first trimester, but you can drink lightly in your second and third trimesters"

Department of Health Alcohol in Pregnancy Guidelines

However, there is no evidence of a safe amount to drink during pregnancy. According to the Department of Health and NICE guidelines, the Chief Medical Officers’ official guidance (2016) is that:

  • If you are pregnant or think you could be pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
  • Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink, the greater the risk.

Many people are unaware of the harms caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. One of the impacts is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD includes physical, mental, behavioural and learning impairments and can be diagnosed as the following:

  • Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Partial Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Alcohol-Related Birth Defects
  • Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopment Disorder

Symptoms include facial abnormalities, brain damage, heart defects, limb and kidney damage as well as cognitive disabilities such as learning difficulties, poor impulse control and social and mental health issues.

GO ALCOHOL FREE
NO RISK
OF FASD

If you’re worried about alcohol use during pregnancy or find it hard to stop drinking alcohol, talk to your GP or midwife for advice and support. You can also find specialist support services in your area on the home page of our website.