Let's support the choice to drink without alcohol

The Importance of a Strong Support Network

Supporting women and pregnant people’s choice to drink alcohol-free can make a big difference. Life partners, friends, colleagues, family, community members, and healthcare professionals can all have an impact.

Read on to discover effective ways you can help.

Partner and family

Offers to Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy: An Obstacle to Take Down

Offers and pressure to have “a little drink” are often mentioned as an irritant or challenge by those who have a hard time avoiding alcohol during pregnancy.

You should never offer a pregnant person alcohol, even in small quantities. This gesture interferes with their desire to drink alcohol-free, even if your intention is to help them feel good, celebrate or relax.

Pregnancy can be used as an opportunity to change habits and discover non-alcoholic drinks and other ways to have fun, celebrate or relax.

Did you know?

  • 1 in 3 women are offered alcohol during their pregnancy?
  • 9 in 10 women who feel supported drink alcohol-free during pregnancy?

The Social Circle as an Ally

Do you know a pregnant woman or person?

Here are three ways you can support them in their choice to drink alcohol-free.

  1. Tell them they have your support and can come to you for help if needed.
  2. Keep a variety of non-alcoholic beverages at home, e.g., plain, flavored or sparkling water, milk and vegetal beverages, tomato or vegetable juice, hot or iced tea, mocktails, etc.
  3. Accompany them by opting for alcohol-free drinks when you are together.

The future father or partner’s influence on the pregnant person is particularly important.

A world where it's good to drink without alcohol for the benefits of future mothers

It’s not because we suddenly decide to start a family that, our physical and social environment changes to help us stop drinking alcohol for 9 months. In Quebec, alcohol is omnipresent in our lives, and, for some pregnant women, this makes abstinence even more difficult.

Reduce Exposure to Alcohol Advertising

Alcohol advertising encourages people to drink. If you have a restaurant or business frequented by pregnant people, you can support them by reducing alcohol advertising on your establishment’s walls, displays, tables, menus or windows. You can also make sure to offer an interesting selection of non-alcoholic options.

Health Professionals

professionals and caregivers

Recommendation in effect

In Quebec, the current Public Health Notice from the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux states that if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, do not take any risks, do not consume any alcohol.

In order to prevent FASD, here is useful information and various tools for professionals and people working in perinatal care.

Did you know that …

  • A woman who knows about FASD is less likely to consume alcohol during pregnancy.
  • 90% of women feel comfortable discussing their drinking habits with their healthcare professional during their pregnancy care.

FASD is the leading preventable cause of birth defects.

  • FASD can cause birth defects, notably
    • The heart
    • The bones
    • The kidneys
    • The brain
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders, notably
    • Language disorders
    • Motor disorders
    • Learning disorders
    • Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity
  • Intellectual disability

FASD is often associated with certain characteristic facial features. However, these affect only 10% of people living with FASD.

FASD is most often invisible, making it difficult to diagnose and monitor.

The only cause of FASD is alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. However, we know that consuming four or more drinks on a single occasion poses a definite risk to the fetus.

The father’s alcohol consumption may also affect their sperm’s DNA and increase the risk of developing FASD.

Several factors influence the type and intensity of possible impacts of alcohol consumption during pregnancy:

  • The mother’s and fetus’s genetic background
  • The mother’s health and nutritional status
  • The stage of pregnancy
  • The amount of alcohol consumed

Embryos are particularly vulnerable during the first weeks of development, which in many cases occurs before the pregnancy is discovered. There are risks even at the pre-implantation stage. This poses a challenge, knowing that 30% to 60% of pregnancies are unplanned.

Screenshot 2024 05 27 at 11 29 17 Formation TSAF comprendre lalcool et la grossesse

To learn more about alcohol and pregnancy, this 20-minute training covers important notions around FASD, alcohol consumption during pregnancy, prevention strategies and challenges, and possible interventions.

Talking about alcohol consumption during pregnancy and FASD can be complex.

Discover tools to address the issue of alcohol consumption during pregnancy with an open and compassionate approach, including videos, posters and a fact sheet on FASD.

Ways to discuss alcohol and pregnancy without taboos

Discuss alcohol use with all pregnant women and inform them that this topic is routinely talked about to avoid guilt or stigma.

Integrate the topic of alcohol with other lifestyle habits : sleep, physical activity, medication, diet and smoking.

Explore the pregnant woman’s knowledge of the risks of alcohol during pregnancy. If deficiencies are noticed, offer information if desired. This website can help you.

Example :

  • What do you know about the consequences of alcohol use during pregnancy?

Explore how she feels about going without alcohol throughout the pregnancy to see if she finds it difficult and to offer resources if needed.

Example :

  • What do you think about the recommendation to go without alcohol throughout your pregnancy?

Use open-ended questions that promote dialogue.
Avoid leading questions such as, “You don’t drink alcohol, do you?”
Focus on non-judgemental, exploratory questions.

Examples :

  • Is your pregnancy welcome news?
  • When was the last time you consumed alcohol?
  • Currently, how much alcohol do you drink per day, per week, per month?

To learn more about the FASD problem

Since 2020, the ASPQ has been publishing an annual FASD bulletin. This collection of texts addresses current topics around FASD and alcohol consumption during pregnancy. It provides an overview, among other things, of the latest scientific data, survey results, public policies, and promising initiatives.

In addition to these bulletins, the ASPQ has authored several reports and assessments on the subject of FASD.