Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs can harm you and your baby

Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or abuse drugs during pregnancy. Pregnancy and these things just don’t mix!

In this topic, learn how smoking, alcohol and drugs can hurt you and your baby even before she’s born.
Smoke, alcohol and drugs can pass directly through the placenta and umbilical cord to your baby. This can cause serious problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage, birth defects and premature birth.

Smoke from cigarettes and cigars is harmful, whether yours or someone else’s. Alcohol includes beer, wine, wine coolers and liquor. Drugs include street drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicine, supplements and herbal products.

Find out about resources and treatment that can help you quit. Quitting is the best thing you can do for your baby!

Most common questions

Can I keep taking all my prescriptions during pregnancy?

It depends on the drug. Tell your prenatal care provider about any prescription drugs you take. Some drugs may be harmful to a growing baby. You may need to stop taking a drug or switch to a drug that's safer for your baby. Don't take anyone else's prescription drugs. And don't take any prescription drug unless your prenatal care provider knows about it.

I drank before I knew I was pregnant. Is my baby hurt?

It's unlikely that an occasional drink before you realized you were pregnant will harm your baby. But the baby's brain and other organs begin developing around the third week of pregnancy, so they could be affected by alcohol in these early weeks. The patterns of drinking that place a baby at greatest risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are binge drinking and drinking seven or more drinks per week. However, FASDs can and do occur in babies of women who drink less. Because no amount of alcohol has been proven safe during pregnancy, a woman should stop drinking immediately if she even suspects she could be pregnant. And she should not drink alcohol if she is trying to become pregnant.

Is it OK to drink wine in my third trimester?

No amount of alcohol has been proven safe during pregnancy. To ensure your baby's health and safety, don't drink alcohol while you're pregnant. Alcohol includes beer, wine, wine coolers and liquor. If you need help to stop drinking alcohol, tell your health care provider.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).