The safest choice is not to drink any alcohol if you are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant.
Many pregnancies are unplanned. If you are sexually active and not using birth control, you should not drink alcohol, just in case! Using alcohol can lead to unsafe sex practices and can increase the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.
Heavy alcohol consumption and street drugs can cause fertility problems including impotence, alterations in sperm quality for men and disrupted menstrual and ovulation cycles for women. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can negatively affect female and male fertility.
If a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the alcohol enters her baby’s bloodstream. This may lead to physical, learning and behaviour problems for the baby. These problems do not go away as the baby grows older.
It is best not to drink alcohol if you are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant because:
- There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
- There is no safe kind of alcohol during pregnancy.
- There is no safe time for alcohol use in pregnancy.
- The more alcohol a woman drinks, the greater the risks to her unborn baby.
Check your drinking
To reduce long-term health risks, Canada’s Low-Risk Guidelines recommend that:
- Men don’t drink more than 15 drinks per week, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days.
- Women don’t drink more than 10 drinks per week, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days.
- Women who are planning to become pregnant, pregnant or about to breastfeed, don’t drink any alcohol at all.
A standard drink is:
- 341 ml (12 ounce) can of 5% beer, cider or cooler.
- 142 ml (5 ounce) glass of 12% wine.
- 43 ml (1.5 ounce) of 40% hard liquor or spirits.
All of the above standard drinks have the same amount of alcohol.
Are you wondering if you are drinking too much? Consider taking the Check Your Drinking Survey.
Try drinking mocktails, which don’t have any alcohol.
Ask for help if you want to stop drinking.
- Your partner, family members, or friends can be a great source of support.
- If you have trouble stopping, talk to your health care provider.
For more information:
- Drug and Alcohol Helpline at 1-800-565-8603 for free, confidential information about alcohol and drug addiction services in Ontario.
- Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.
- Motherisk Alcohol and Substance Use Helpline – 1-877-327-4346.
- Your health care provider.
- To assess your drinking and help you set goals if you need to cut back, visit the Alcohol Help Centre.