Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Alcohol or Drug Use During Pregnancy
everything you eat, drink, or take into your body affects you and your growing
baby (fetus). Pregnant women often need to make changes to
have a healthy pregnancy, such as eating better or exercising. But one of the
most important things you can do when you are pregnant is to avoid alcohol and
Alcohol and drugs can cause problems for you during your
pregnancy and when it is time for your baby to be born. They can also affect
your baby both before and after he or she is born. They can:
Using alcohol and drugs like cocaine or meth is not safe
for you or your baby.
The best time to stop using alcohol and
drugs is before you get pregnant. But sometimes pregnancy is unexpected. Since
drugs and alcohol can harm your baby in the first weeks of pregnancy, the
sooner you can stop, the better.
over-the-counter and prescription medicines aren't
safe to take when you're pregnant. Tell your doctor about all the drugs and
supplements you take. He or she can help you decide what medicines are safe to
take during pregnancy.
Possible effect on mother
Possible effect on fetus, newborn, and child
You may already know that alcohol and
drugs can harm you and your baby. But it can still be hard to stop. Changing
your behaviors isn't easy. Some people need treatment to help them quit using
drugs or alcohol. Here are some things you can do:
Take the first step. Admitting that you need help can be hard.
You may feel ashamed or have doubts about whether you can quit. But your
treatment can be successful only if you make the choice to stay sober. Remember
that many people have struggled with these same feelings and have recovered
from substance abuse. Quitting now will help you and your baby.
Tell someone. If you can't stop drinking or using
drugs on your own, tell someone that you need help. There are people and
programs to help you. Your doctor is a good place to start. He or she can talk
to you about treatment options. Your doctor may be able to give you medicines
that can ease withdrawal symptoms. Or he or she may be able to find a hospital
or clinic that you can go to for treatment.
You might also want
to tell a friend or loved one. Having someone on your side that you know well,
telling you that you can do this for yourself and your baby, is a very
important part of recovery.
Make changes to your life. It can be hard to stop using alcohol or drugs when it has become a
part of your life. You may need to make changes to your routine, like not being
around certain people, or not going to places where you used to drink or use
drugs. Ask friends and family to support your changes.
Consider counseling. Counseling helps you make changes in your life so you can
stay sober. You learn to cope with tough emotions and make good choices. You
may get counseling in a group or one-on-one.
Join a support group. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics
Anonymous were formed to help people who want to stop doing things that add no
value to their lives. You may have more success quitting if you share your
story, hear the stories of those who may be struggling and those who have
successfully quit, and find someone to partner with.
you're ready to quit drugs or alcohol, congratulations. You are taking an
important step for your health and for your baby's health. Contact these
organizations for information and help with quitting:
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Call a local AA office, or visit the website.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA)
Other Works Consulted
Cone-Wesson B (2005). Alcohol and cocaine exposure: Influences on cognition, speech, language, and hearing. Journal of Communication Disorders, 38(4): 279–302.
Gray KA, et al. (2005). Prenatal marijuana exposure: Effect on child depressive symptoms at ten years of age. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 27(3): 439–448.
Huizink AC, Mulder EJ (2006). Maternal smoking, drinking, or cannabis use during pregnancy and neurobehavioral and cognitive functioning in human offspring. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 30(1): 24–41.
Linares TJ, et al. (2006). Mental health outcomes of cocaine-exposed children at 6 years of age. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 31(1): 85–97.
Smith AM, et al. (2006). Effects of prenatal marijuana on visuospatial working memory: An fMRI study in young adults. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 28(2): 286–295.
Sundram S (2006). Cannabis and neurodevelopment: Implications for psychiatric disorders. Human Psychopharmacology, 21(4): 245–254.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofMay 30, 2016
Current as of:
May 30, 2016
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.