Drinking alcohol is a common social activity for many women.
In fact, 76 per cent of the women surveyed in the Canadian Addiction Survey reported drinking in the past year.
However, we don't always think about the possible risks that may be associated with drinking. For example, women are advised to avoid drinking when they are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
Know Your Risks
There are a number of risks to a developing baby if a woman drinks alcohol when pregnant. All drinks with alcohol can be harmful to a developing baby. Alcohol is in beer, wine, hard liquor, coolers and ciders. There is no known safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy. The baby's brain and nervous system develop throughout pregnancy.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the name for the range of harms caused by alcohol use during pregnancy. These harms can include brain damage, vision and hearing problems, slow growth, and birth defects, such as bones that aren't properly formed and heart problems. Brain damage can mean that a child will have lifelong learning disabilities and problems in memory, reasoning and judgment.
It's not uncommon that pregnant women drink alcohol before knowing they are pregnant, given that about 50 per cent of births in Canada are not planned. Stress and worry can make things worse for a pregnant woman and her baby.
It's never too late to stop drinking or using other substances during pregnancy. The best way for a pregnant woman to reduce the risk of harm to her baby is to look after her own health.
Pregnancy and Alcohol Use Resources
For more information on pregnancy and alcohol use:
- BC HealthLink Files: Pregnancy and Alcohol Use and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- Healthy Choices in Pregnancy
- The Best Chance website.
If you need help to stop or cut down on drinking, be sure to talk to someone. Friends, family or a doctor, nurse or counsellor can help.
BC/Yukon Society of Transition Houses
- Phone: 604-669-6943
Alcohol and Drug Referral Service
Call if you need help from an alcohol counsellor or for more information on where counselling is available in your area.
- Province-wide toll-free: 1-800-663-1441
- Greater Vancouver: 604-660-9382