Christmas is one of the biggest holidays we celebrate in North America. With it comes shopping, decorating, wrapping, eating and drinking. Between office parties, getting together with friends or celebrating with family, alcohol tends to show up frequently throughout the holidays. For women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, this time of year can be especially filled with temptation to indulge just a little bit, because it is the holidays and a little bit won’t hurt…right?

There is a public perception that individuals with FASD are only born to women who are alcoholics. But the brain of an unborn child starts developing from the moment of conception and is affected even if they are occasionally exposed to alcohol. Science hasn’t been able to prove how much alcohol is safe or if there is a safe time or type of alcohol to consume, so the best rule of thumb is that there is NO safe amount at ANY time during pregnancy. It is also best for women who are trying to conceive to not drink because damage can also be done within those first two or three months before most women find out they are pregnant.

As a parent of two children living with FASD I know first-hand the damage alcohol has done to them and it is so important that we educate and encourage pregnant women to avoid alcohol. Some pregnant women face a lot of pressure from family, friends and even their partner to have ‘just a little’, not just at Christmas time but throughout the year.

One of the best things we can do as a partner, friend or family member of someone who is pregnant is to support them in their choice of not drinking alcohol. Here are a few suggestions:

  • don’t serve alcohol at a celebration you are hosting;
  • serve mocktails (many recipes can be found online or check out CanFASD’s mocktails) as an alternative;
  • choose not to drink alcohol yourself when out with someone who is pregnant;
  • speak up in support of the individual if they are getting pressure from others.

Most pregnant women are not out to harm their unborn child. Either they didn’t know they were pregnant or they are struggling with issues that are beyond their ability to manage. For individuals who are concerned about the amount they are drinking they can take an anonymous survey online. Another option is to talk to their health-care provider or visit the Ontario Government’s Drugs and Alcohol Helpline. For individuals in Peel region they can call Peel’s Health Line at 905-799-7700.

Check out our prevention page for a Q&A on drinking and more information.

Wishing everyone a safe and blessed Christmas season.
FASD Connection Peel team