Pregnancy and alcohol
Maybe you've already started to eat more healthily to make sure that you're getting right balance of nutrients. But also not drinking during pregnancy will help your baby develop and grow normally.
Women trying for a baby
We don't know exactly what alcohol levels will reduce your chances of getting pregnant, but we do know that if you drink heavily it can disrupt your periods. You may also find it harder to get pregnant.
If you're trying for a baby and want to remove any risks of alcohol to the baby when you do conceive (including the increased risk of miscarriage related to drinking in the first three months of pregnancy) you should avoid drinking completely. But if you do drink, to minimise the risks to the baby you are advised to drink no more than one to two units of alcohol no more than once or twice a week. Don't get drunk.
Men trying for a baby
Men should also think about how much booze they drink when trying for a baby. Alcohol may damage the cells that produce sperm and affect your liver, which can upset your hormone levels and fertility. And heavy drinking can cause temporary impotence.
How much alcohol can I drink when I'm pregnant?
If you're pregnant, when you drink alcohol it passes from your blood, through the placenta, to your baby. Because your baby is still developing, it can't process alcohol as well as you can, and too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect its development. This means you should avoid drinking alcohol if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
If you do have a drink, you can minimise risk to your baby by not drinking more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week, and don't get drunk. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises women who are pregnant to avoid alcohol in the first three months in particular, because of the increased risk of miscarriage.
Alcohol can also affect your baby all the way through your pregnancy. Whilst drinking alcohol heavily during pregnancy is well-known to lead to a combination of restricted growth, facial abnormalities, and behavioural problems, one or more of these problems can still occur when mothers have been drinking at much lower levels. The less you drink, the lower the risks are likely to be.
Drink swaps during pregnancy
Being pregnant needn't mean you have to miss out on socialising though! If you're with friends who are drinking, you could try swapping your usual drink for an alcohol-free version, or a non-alcoholic cocktail.
If you're used to having a drink to de-stress, you could try some new activities instead while your bump is growing. Taking a bubble bath, reading a magazine, listening to music, or walking in the park with friends can all be relaxing - and can work out cheaper than booze as well.
Overall, you'll probably feel brighter and healthier if you don't drink while you're pregnant. And that means you're more likely to feel ready when the big day comes.