637 4060 ADDRESS: 60 Mount Street Lower, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2 info@merrionultrasound.ie

Ways To Cut Down Or Cut Out Alcohol Before Getting Pregnant

Drinking socially has been an integral part of Irish culture for centuries. Moderate social drinking can be good fun and an enjoyable way to socialise. There are times, however, when cutting out alcohol from your lifestyle can be a good idea. One of these times is if you are hoping to become pregnant.

That said, it is highly recommended to cleanse your system from time to time, regardless of wishing to become pregnant or not. Of course, it can also happen that you were not actively planning to become pregnant, and you discover that you are. If this happens you need to stop drinking alcohol immediately.

1. Do I Need To Cut Out Alcohol Before Getting Pregnant Or Even When Pregnant?

There is mixed press regarding drinking during pregnancy, which ranges from not drinking at all, to media which varies, some say that one unit a week is fine and others which say a few units a week is okay. The reality is that alcohol can damage your baby, in the worst case scenario with high levels of consumption, it can result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. To understand the devastating effects of FAS please click on the link Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and for further information see the Wikipedia article about it. As there are so many factors which contribute to you giving your baby every possible chance to be really healthy, the logical choice is not to dabble with anything that is potentially harmful to baby.

2. Alcohol And Conception – Will Drinking Affect My Chances Of Conceiving?

There are many studies that suggest that drinking can affect your chances of conception. Some even suggest that relatively light drinking, such as 5 drinks a week, can have a detrimental effect on your fertility. For males, it is a well known fact that alcohol lowers sperm quality and quantity. Ideally your partner should cut down to very moderate levels of alcohol consumption during your TTC (trying to conceive) period, or if he is inclined to join and support you, you could both cut it out altogether.

Once you become pregnant remember that alcohol crosses the placenta, where baby is growing with lots of her parts not yet strong, or developed enough to cope with the effects of alcohol, in the way a fully grown adult can. Alcohol is also a serious risk factor when it comes to miscarriage.

pregnancy and alcohol

3. Quitting Before Conception Eliminates The Risk Of You Drinking Before You Can Take A Pregnancy Test

Even though it may be challenging, one of the other advantages of stopping alcohol during this period of your life, is that you won’t be risking baby during that time between conception and a positive pregnancy test. There are lots of women who drink at this time, unaware that they are pregnant.

4. Alcohol Inhibits Nutrients Being Broken Down

If you are someone who has stopped drinking for a week or more previously, you’ll most likely remember that you feel better, quite quickly. One of the reasons for this is that alcohol inhibits the breakdown of the nutrients you need to absorb from food.

These nutrients need to be broken down into usable molecules, but the intake of alcohol decreases the secretion of your digestive enzymes. Additionally it can damage the lining of your intestines and stomach, which in turn hinders the transport of some of the nutrients into your blood.

On top of this, these type of nutritional deficiencies can lead to further issues with absorption, such as your ability to absorb folic acid, which is so important.

For more information on this subject read this excellent piece.

5. Here Is Some Helpful Advice To Get You Started

For some it makes sense to cut down first and then cut out – firstly be realistic about how much you currently drink. If you drink quite a bit, or quite frequently, then it may work better for you to cut down first. This will help minimise the effects of withdrawal. However you should also agree (with yourself and/your partner) a realistic target date for when you will stop completely.

Understand your relationship with alcohol – do you see alcohol as a friend, as a support mechanism or as a necessity in some way? Only you know the truth about your feelings towards it. This is one of the most important steps in stopping. As once you understand, you can find the best way to re-establish a relationship, with different boundaries.

Replace alcohol with something healthy and enjoyable – at the beginning it may seem strange to go for a walk instead of heading to the pub, but once you feel the benefits you will find it normal. Whatever you choose as a replacement, make sure you like it and it is healthy, or at least not unhealthy. The reason to replace is so that the reward system in your brain doesn’t feel deprived. The replacement could be a new hobby that you’ve wanted to do for a while but haven’t got around to doing.

It may be easier to avoid situations which involve alcohol – everyone is different, and some people who have stopped drinking can happily sit in a pub with others drinking alcohol. However for others this may represent a strong trigger that they find hard to resist.

Be patient with yourself – if for some reason you are tempted don’t beat yourself up over it. Start again and remind yourself why you are doing it.

Visualise your baby – visualisation is a powerful technique. If you don’t consider yourself a visual person than imagine instead. The more often you can see or imagine being pregnant with a beautiful healthy baby, the stronger your motivation will become.

Consider relaxation or yoga – yoga and relaxation techniques have helped many people, and maybe they can work for you. They can help you feel more centred in yourself, less stressed and healthier.

Hypnotherapy – is a choice that works also for quite a lot of people. Essentially the therapist will access your subconscious, with your co-operation, and plant the benefits of not drinking. When it works it can make the process of quitting easier.

Talk to your doctor – it can be a good idea to talk to your doctor, explaining your plans and to get his or her medical help.

Whatever route you take, remember that your body is going to be the host for a new human life, once you become pregnant. This is a wonderful gift, but also a big responsibility. All of your health choices can benefit your son or daughter, there is no present more precious than this.


Nuchal Translucency

12-14 weeks


Anatomy Survey

21-22 weeks


Later Dating

10-17 weeks


Gender Scan

19 weeks onwards


Growth & Well Being

22 weeks onwards


Post Dates & Liquor

40 weeks onwards

Midwife sonographer facilitated

Consultant Led, Centre of Medical Excellence 


All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.


This website was formerly Merrion Fetal Health. The clinic has undergone a rebrand and is now known as Merrion Ultrasound.