Quitting alcohol and other drugs when your partner is pregnant: why it’s important
If your partner is pregnant, it’s safest for your partner to avoid alcohol and other drugs.
If you quit or limit your use of alcohol and other drugs when your partner is pregnant, you:
- make it easier for your pregnant partner to stop drinking alcohol or using drugs
- have more energy to support your partner through pregnancy
- start creating a safe and healthy environment for your baby after birth.
How to limit or quit alcohol and other drugs when your partner is pregnant
Here are ideas to help you limit or quit your use of alcohol or other drugs during your partner’s pregnancy. These ideas can help your pregnant partner stop drinking alcohol or using other drugs too:
- Have non-alcoholic drinks like water, milk, herbal teas and non-alcoholic wine and beer.
- If you drink alcohol or use other drugs to manage stress, look for other ways to relax or treat yourself. For example, you could take a bath, go for a walk or do a boxing class.
- Do social activities with family and friends that aren’t focused on drinking alcohol. For example, you could host a board game or movie night. You could let people know why there won’t be any alcohol.
If you’re not ready to quit drinking, try to have no more than 2 standard drinks a day.
It’s a good idea to stop drinking alcohol and using drugs as soon as you and your partner start trying to get pregnant. If your partner gets pregnant unexpectedly, stop using alcohol or other drugs as soon as you suspect or confirm the pregnancy.
Professional help to quit alcohol or other drug use
If you think you need professional support to limit or quit alcohol or other drug use, talk to your GP.
You can also:
- Call Drug Help on 1800 250 015.
- Find support services and information on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website.
- Call Lifeline on 131 114, MensLine on 1300 789 978 or QLife (LGBTQ+ peer support) on 1800 184 527, or use their webchat services.
If your partner drinks alcohol or uses other drugs, ask them what support they need to stop and help them get it. You could also contact Family Drug Support on 1300 368 186 for advice on how to support your partner.
How alcohol or other drug use affects your unborn baby
If your pregnant partner drinks alcohol or uses other drugs, it can cause serious harm to your unborn baby. This includes miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder .
If you drink alcohol or use other drugs when your partner is pregnant, this can affect your emotions and behaviour. For some people, alcohol and other drugs can fuel arguments that might lead to anger and family violence. Anger and violence can harm your partner or unborn baby physically or emotionally.
Alcohol and other drug use is never an excuse for using violence. If you’re having trouble managing anger or your anger is leading to violence in pregnancy, call the National Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT or 1800 737 732 or the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.
How alcohol or other drug use affects your baby after birth
When parents have problematic alcohol or other drug use, it can affect their ability to connect with and care for their children. For example, it might be harder to get up in the night to feed, change and settle your newborn. And you might find it harder to tune in and respond to your baby’s emotional needs.
Also, problematic alcohol or other drug use means you might be more likely to have an accident when you’re doing everyday things like driving a car, and you might accidentally injure your child.
If your partner is breastfeeding and drinks alcohol or uses other drugs, the alcohol or drugs pass straight into breastmilk and can affect your baby’s development.
If you and your partner limit or avoid alcohol and other drugs after your baby is born, you create a safe and healthy environment for your baby. You’ll be better able to give your baby the warmth, security and safety they need to grow and develop well. You’ll also be a good role model for your child.