Tips to stay alcohol-free
No safe level of alcohol use has been identified at any stage in pregnancy, and that's why the National Health and Medical Research Council recommend women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy should not drink alcohol.1
But, for many women, it can feel difficult to avoid alcohol, particularly in social situations and in the early stages when others might not know about the pregnancy.
Are there any tips to avoid alcohol when pregnant or planning a pregnancy?
Yes! Pregnancy shouldn’t mean women feel they can’t socialise. For some women, they feel there is an expectation to drink, and having others around them drinking can make it more difficult to abstain. We also know that drinking, particularly in social situations, can provide a sense of confidence and inclusion.2 If you are in a social situation and not wanting to tell others about a pregnancy, it might be helpful to say:
- No thank-you, I’m not drinking tonight.
- No thank-you, I have to drive.
- I have a big day today/tomorrow, so no thanks.
- I’m taking a break from drinking, thanks though.
- I’m not feeling the best, so would rather not, thanks.
Women tell us some of the easiest ways to help them stay alcohol-free is by having alcohol-free alternatives that they enjoy and arranging social gatherings where alcohol is not a key feature.2 If drinking at home is part of the normal routine, consider alternatives to drinking alcohol that might help them relax or wind down after a long day, such as taking a bath, going for a walk or listening to a podcast.
Having a strong support network also helps women to avoid alcohol, both when they are pregnant and when they’re planning pregnancy.
Partners can play a very important role in supporting a woman’s decision to not drink alcohol. This can include telling their partner they support their decision, offering them alcohol-free alternatives, and joining them in not drinking. Find out more on how to support women to abstain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy click here.
Having supportive friends can also help women to feel less isolated and provides reinforcement and support when deciding not to drink alcohol, particularly in social situations. If your friend is pregnant suggest breakfast or lunch catch-ups rather than dinner, where alcohol is less common; tell your friend you support their decision to not drink alcohol or even better yet, join her in not drinking!
Do you or someone you know need help?
If you or someone you know you know needs help or support in relation to their alcohol or other drug use, including during pregnancy, the Alcohol and Drug Support Line is a confidential, non-judgemental telephone counselling, information and referral service. The phone service is free of charge and available 24/7 by calling (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024 (toll-free for country callers).
Live Chat is also free of charge and available for Western Australian during select hours via the Alcohol.Think Again website.
National Health and Medical Research Council. (2020). Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
Kantar Public. (2020). Formative Research Alcohol and Pregnancy. Mental Health Commission, Perth WA.
Page last updated: 07 January 2021