The safest approach is to avoid alcohol altogether during pregnancy as it can harm your baby’s development.

When you drink, the alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta directly into your baby’s blood. Your baby cannot process alcohol as well as you can and too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect their development and could increase the risks of your baby coming early or having a low birth weight. There is also an increased risk of a miscarriage in the early months.

There is no evidence that very small amounts of alcohol (one to two units per week) cause harm. The damage caused by alcohol in pregnancy can be very severe, however, and standard drinks often exceed two units. For this reason, your midwife will recommend that the safest choice is not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Illegal drugs

Taking illegal drugs such as cocaine, meta-amphetamines, cannabis or ‘legal highs’ during pregnancy can be extremely harmful to you and your baby and increase the risk of health problems. Babies who are exposed to regular substances in the womb can spend their first days of life suffering withdrawal.

If you are taking illegal drugs or medication that hasn’t been prescribed to you, it’s important to talk to your midwife, GP or specialist service. They won’t judge you and can help you and your baby get the right care and treatment. By getting help early, you can protect your baby and keep well.