Alcohol in Pregnancy

Frequently Asked Questions about Alcohol during Pregnancy - Fact Sheet

Making Yummy Mocktails for Mom

Alcohol and Pregnancy Don't Mix

Experts recommend that women planning a pregnancy or women who are pregnant avoid drinking all types of alcohol throughout their pregnancy.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause permanent birth defects and brain damage to your baby.

What if you had a few drinks before you knew you were pregnant?

Test your knowledge with the quiz below about alcohol and pregnancy to see how much you know!

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To help your baby be as healthy as possible, stop drinking alcohol when you are trying to get pregnant, or as soon as you suspect you are pregnant.

About 50 per cent of pregnancies are unplanned. Having a small amount of alcohol before you knew you were pregnant is not likely to harm your baby. However, stop drinking as soon as you suspect you are pregnant. For more information, call Motherisk at 1-877-FAS-INFO.

What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?

FASD is a new term used to describe all of the physical and learning disabilities that are caused by alcohol use in pregnancy. Drinking alcohol in pregnancy has been shown to cause:

  • Brain Damage
  • Vision and Hearing Difficulties
  • Bones, Limbs and Fingers Not Properly Formed
  • Heart, Kidney, Liver and Other Organ Damage
  • Growth Deficiencies

Because alcohol affects the brain and causes brain damage, a child may have serious difficulties with learning, remembering, learning from past mistakes, making good decisions and getting along with others.

For more information on alcohol and pregnancy, visit Best Start's website Be Safe: Have an Alcohol-free Pregnancy.

How can partners help?

The best way for partners to help a woman who is pregnant to remain alcohol free is to ask her, "How can I help?". Supporting your partner by joining her with alcohol-free mocktails and socializing without alcohol are great ways to provide support without nagging. Some studies have found that partners who put pressure on a woman to stop drinking in pregnancy will cause some women to drink more. 

What men can do to help

Don't wait until pregnancy

If your health care provider has not talked to you about alcohol, ask to discuss it.

Health Care Providers:

It is recommended that all health care providers talk to women who are able to get pregnant about their alcohol use and the risk of using alcohol in pregnancy. The alcohol screening tool that is recommended for use in pregnancy is called the T-ACE. Download T-ACE here or order a hard copy as a desk reference. Resource: Why Do Girls and Women Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy? Information for Service Providers

FASD in Waterloo Region

Lutherwood's website is intended to offer strategies, tips and community supports for families. Included are resources for educators and other professionals that can be used when supporting children and youth diagnosed under FASD.

This site is supported in partnership with the Waterloo Region FASD Diagnostic Steering Committee and the Waterloo Region FASD Action Group.

What is Sandy's Law?

Sandy's Law is an Ontario law that took effect Feb. 1, 2005. It requires all licensed establishments to post a sign warning about the dangers of drinking alcohol in pregnancy.

The sign states: WARNING: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects and brain damage to your baby. For more information call 1-877-FAS-INFO or  visit Best Start's website Be Safe: Have an Alcohol-free Pregnancy.

The sign, which must be at least eight by 11 inches in size, can be downloaded from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario's website. It is available in black and white or colour.

Region of Waterloo Public Health also has signs available for licensed establishments. To order a sign, call Region of Waterloo Public Health 519-575-4400.

Pregnancy, breastfeeding and substance use

Check for information on Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Substance Use


Check the list of services in Waterloo Region: Services for Women who are Pregnant or Parenting and Involved with Alcohol and/or Drugs