We are not supporting this browser


      Alcohol and pregnancy


      What happens when you drink alcohol during pregnancy?

      It’s worth remembering that every time you have a drink of alcohol during your pregnancy, you share it with your unborn baby and it has been proven that drinking on a regular basis may be harmful.

      Alcohol quickly reaches your baby across the placenta. You may be surprised to know that it enters your baby’s bloodstream at around the same levels of concentration present in your blood, but it takes them twice as long to expel it from their system as their liver is not mature until the last half of pregnancy.

      What are the long-term effects of drinking alcohol in pregnancy on your baby?

      Drinking over two units of alcohol a day means your baby is more likely to have problems with learning, speech, attention span, language and hyperactivity. These harmful effects are known as Foetal Alcohol Effects (FAE).

      If you drink over six units of alcohol a day during your pregnancy, you put yourself at risk of having a baby with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This severe condition causes children to suffer from mental and growth retardation, behavioural problems, and facial and heart defects.


      Drinking alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy

      The truth is that researchers don’t know what having a few glasses of alcohol can do to your baby during the early stages of pregnancy. Many women have often had a drink before they even knew they were pregnant (and have had healthy babies). As soon as you do know though, it’s best to steer clear.

      If you are planning to get pregnant, you may want to give up completely beforehand to save yourself any worry!

      What counts as a unit of alcohol?

      One unit is:

      • ½  pint of ordinary strength beer, lager, or cider
      •  ¼ pint of strong beer or lager
      • 1 small glass of wine
      • 1 single measure of spirits
      • 1 small glass of sherry

      So what can you drink instead?

      Alcohol and pregnancy really don’t mix that well, so why not choose a non-alcoholic wine or beer? Or you could try your hand at mixing one of these virgin cocktails:

      Virgin Sea Breeze 
      Cranberry juice 
      Grapefruit juice 
      Pour equal amounts of the two juices into a glass and stir. This is very refreshing!

      Cool Banana 
      ½ cup frozen yoghurt
      ½ banana 
      ¾ cup milk 
      Pour all the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth before serving on ice. This treat also helps with your dairy count!

      Virgin Margarita 
      15ml Lime juice 
      15ml Orange juice 
      45ml Sour mix 
      Add all the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a frosted glass. Enjoy.

      Any more questions?

      Our specialist baby advisors and experienced mums are here to talk and ready to help whenever you need them. You can call us or reach us on Live Chat 8.30am-5.30pm Monday-Friday.

      Join the C&G baby club today

      Join the C&G baby club today

      • Weekly emails with tips and advice for your stage
      • 1-to-1 support from our dedicated Careline team, 8.30am - 5.30pm Monday to Friday.
      Join us now

      More from pregnancy

      Your privacy is important to us and therefore we would like to explain how we use cookies on this website. With your consent, we will use cookies to measure and analyse how our website is used (analytical cookies), to tailor it to your interests (personalisation cookies), and to show you relevant advertising and information (targeting cookies) we think you will like. For more information please read the cookie statement.

      Privacy Settings

      You can choose your preferences anytime for cookies and tracking. For more information please read our cookie policy

      • Strictly necessary

        They are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services (setting your privacy preferences, logging in, filling in forms, etc.). You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work.

      • Analytical cookies

        They allow us to count visits and traffic sources, to measure and improve the performance of our site. They show us which pages are the most and least popular and how visitors move around the site. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

      • Personalisation cookies

        They enable website’s enhanced functionality and personalization. They may be set by us or by third parties whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, some or all of these services may not function properly.

      • Targeting cookies

        They may be set through our site by our advertising partners, to build a profile of your interests and to show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.