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Smoking, drugs and alcohol

Cigarette smoke, alcohol and other drugs are known to have harmful effects on babies during pregnancy and after birth. Drugs and alcohol consumed during pregnancy reach the baby by crossing the placenta, exposing your baby to harmful chemicals, affecting growth and development and increasing the risk of birth defects, physical and intellectual disability, preterm birth and miscarriage.

If you smoke, are a regularly user of drugs or alcohol and are trying for a baby or find yourself pregnant, there are steps you can take to improve the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy and improve the health outcomes for your baby;

  • Get help – seek medical advice before you become pregnant or as soon as you find out you’re pregnant to improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby
  • Don’t stop taking any drugs without advice from a medical professional
  • Understand the drugs you are taking and be honest with your care providers about your use
  • Attend regular antenatal appointments with your doctor, midwife or obstetrician to monitor your baby’s growth and development
  • Abide by the recommendation not to drink alcohol at all during your pregnancy – there is no known “safe” amount of alcohol when you’re pregnant.
  • Discuss with your care providers before taking any medication including vitamins – prescription and over the counter medications and supplements can affect your growing baby.

For more information;

Pregnancy Birth & Baby – Alcohol, drugs and medicine during pregnancy

The Royal Women’s Hospital – Pregnancy, drugs and alcohol

Better Health Channel – Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The Conversation – How taking drugs while pregnant harms your unborn baby

Quit.org – Smoking and pregnancy 

Support services;

Support services in the ACT