Pathways to Wellness

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Alcohol and pregnancy don't mix

Exposure to alcohol at critical stages during a pregnancy can have serious, life-long effects on the brain.  Learning, memory, attention, and judgment are some of the brain functions that are affected by exposure to alcohol before birth.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) can be prevented.  When pregnancies are planned, women who drink alcohol can stop drinking while they are trying to get pregnant, and continue to avoid alcohol during their pregnancy.  When a pregnancy is unplanned, the best choice is to stop drinking as soon as a woman knows or suspects she is pregnant. 

Whether a woman drinks before, during and after pregnancy is influenced by many factors: how much she knows about healthy pregnancies, whether she has an addiction to alcohol, and whether her friends and family support her effort to stay clear of alcohol.  

Husbands and boyfriends, family and friends can create a circle of caring around a pregnant woman.  You can help by

✓ not drinking alcohol when you are with her, or better still, not drinking at all during the pregnancy, and

✓ finding other ways of spending time together that are fun, active and don’t involve alcohol. 

Other drugs, like marijuana and cocaine, also have an effect.   So the best policy is to avoid both alcohol and street drugs during pregnancy.

Here are two similar short booklets from the Canadian Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.

  1. Alcohol use during pregnancy
  2. Alcohol use during pregnancy  (Aboriginal parents)
  3. L'usage de l'alcool durant la grossesse 
And here is a 9 minute video that explores brain development and the damage that can be caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.


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