Alcohol, Smoking, and Drugs When Pregnant

While many women are aware of the dangers that alcohol, caffeine, smoking and drugs pose during pregnancy, few may realize that these substances can also interfere with your body when you're trying to conceive.


Drinking alcohol can hinder your ability to conceive. However, it is not exactly clear just how much you need to consume before your fertility is affected. What is known, though, is that excessive drinking can lead to an early miscarriage.

If you are trying to conceive, it is best to completely eliminate alcohol from your diet. At the very least, reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one to two units per week. One unit of alcohol is equal to:

  • A half pint of ordinary strength beer, lager or cider
  • A quarter pint of strong beer
  • A glass of wine
  • A shot (1oz) of spirits

If you find that avoiding alcohol is difficult, then try some of these tips:

  • Avoid having alcohol in your home
  • Have your partner support you by not drinking at home
  • Keep a ready supply of fruit juice and/or (caffeine-free) soft drinks in the fridge

Once you become pregnant, it is important to avoid alcohol altogether. Consuming alcohol while you are pregnant can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

The problems alcohol can cause with your body when you're trying to conceive can be exacerbated by smoking, a poor diet and caffeine.


Like alcohol, smoking cigarettes can affect your fertility. The toxins in the cigarettes can hamper your egg maturation process and ovulation rates. Cigarettes can also lower the quantity and quality of your eggs. Moreover, eggs exposed to nicotine have a greater rate of chromosomal abnormalities. If your partner smokes, tell him to quit too, since nicotine can also affect the quality of his sperm.

Smoking can also increase your chances of:

  • A miscarriage
  • Premature labor
  • Slower fetal growth
  • Delivering an underweight baby


As enjoyable as that first cup of coffee in the morning is, it's a good idea to start weaning yourself off the caffeine before you get pregnant. While caffeine alone won't necessarily hinder your fertility, it doesn't hurt to get a head start on reducing your intake. When you are pregnant, it is recommended that you drink no more than one caffeine beverage per day.


Drug use in both women and men can lower your fertility and the quality of your eggs or your partner's sperm. Using drugs during pregnancy can seriously harm your child, so it is best to kick your habit before you get pregnant. If you are trying to conceive, make an appointment with your health care provider to discuss your drug use and how you can quit.

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