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Smoking and Drinking

Please notify your doctor or nurse midwife if you cannot stop taking drugs, drinking alcohol or smoking. Resources are available to help you.

Stop smoking

The more you smoke, the greater the risk to both you and your baby. Please re-evaluate your decision to smoke. You will never have a better reason to stop.

Stop drinking

Alcohol is as much a drug as anything you may take in pill form. It passes through the placenta to your baby and can be harmful.

The risk factor associated with alcohol use during pregnancy is an area of ongoing research. The dangers to unborn babies from alcohol use have been well documented. A higher incidence of miscarriage is now being associated with even minimal drinking in early pregnancy.

Since a "safe" level of alcohol is not known, we recommend that you do not drink at all during your pregnancy.

Alcohol's effect on pregnancy

Alcohol easily crosses the placenta and reaches higher concentrations in the fetus than in the mother. The fetus cannot break down alcohol and eliminate it like adults do. Alcohol concentrates in the fetal brain.

Having even two drinks per day during pregnancy may cause fetal alcohol syndrome, whose effects include:

  • Mental retardation, sometimes severe
  • Facial deformities
  • Small body and head
  • Heart defects
  • Behavioral problems later in life

Newborns can go through withdrawal if they have been exposed to regular alcohol use throughout the pregnancy. They will need additional medical attention until they are stronger.

If you don't think you can stop drinking during pregnancy, tell your doctor or midwife. Resources are available to help you.

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