Alcohol and pregnancy in Norway

You should always avoid alcohol while you are pregnant and preferably also while you are trying to conceive. No one knows how much alcohol can be consumed before it will bring harm to the unborn baby.

If you abstain from drinking alcohol already from the time that you are trying to conceive, you will give you baby good growth and development opportunities right from the start.  There is no safe amount or safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy or when planning a pregnancy. 

Alcohol can reduce the chance of becoming pregnant and increase the risk of miscarriage

The chances of getting pregnant increase if you don't drink alcohol, because alcohol reduces fertility. The use of alcohol during pregnancy can also increase the risk of miscarriage.

If you have been drinking

At your first prenatal check-up, alcohol will be a topic for discussion. If you are worried because you have had alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy or before you knew you were pregnant, you should talk to your midwife or GP. Don’t' stay silent with your concerns, you are not alone in this situation.

The less you have drunk, the lower the risk that the development of the fetus will be affected. The most important thing you can do is to refrain from drinking alcohol for the rest of your pregnancy.

What can happen to your baby if you drink?

All alcohol that a pregnant woman drinks is shared with the fetus. Alcohol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and transferred to the fetus via placenta.

All fetal organs may be affected and cell development may be impaired. The brain is particularly vulnerable because it develops throughout the pregnancy.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of

  • miscarriage
  • stillbirth
  • premature delivery
  • poor fetal growth
  • diminished intellectual capacity
  • learning disabilities
  • behavioural and social problems
  • concentration and memory problems
  • restlessness and hyperactivity
  • difficulties of understanding the consequences of one's actions
  • malformations

The risk of injury increases if you drink a lot and often.

Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD)

The disorders are classified under the umbrella term foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

The most severe diagnosis is foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Children with FAS are typically affected by

  • poor growth
  • brain damage
  • distinctive facial characteristics

The risk of FASD increases the more alcohol the mother drinks, and the more often she drinks.

Help to stop drinking

If you still drink alcohol or if you are having trouble quitting, contact your doctor or midwife for help as soon as possible. They can refer you to counseling and follow-up that will help you stay abstinent throughout the rest of your pregnancy.

If you have a friend or know someone who drinks alcohol during pregnancy, encourage her to seek help. If she is using alcohol or other drugs, she can get help to protect the child from injury.

Get support from your partner and friends

It can be difficult to stop drinking alcohol if everyone around you is drinking. As a pregnant women, your partner is often the most important source of support. Think about and talk about your alcohol habits already when you are planning to have children.

It will motivate if you think primarily about the child's development and future. Make sure you have good alcohol-free options available, and decide how you want to have fun together without alcohol.

Non-alcoholic options

​Alcohol has the same effect on the fetus no matter what type of drink it is, and the only thing that is recommended is therefore alcohol-free alternatives. There are many good non-alcoholic options in addition to apple juice, non-alcoholic wine or beer. Remember that most drinks can also be made without alcohol.

Helsedirektoratet

Breastfeeding and alcohol

You should avoid alcohol for the first six weeks after birth and limit your alcohol intake in the months afterwards. See more advice on breastfeeding and alcohol here (in Norwegian).

Zanzu

Information about pregnancy and birth for immigrants and others who have not been in Norway for long. Available in Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Norwegian, Polish, Somali, Tigrinya and Turkish.

Content provided by The Norwegian Directorate of Health

Last updated Friday, January 6, 2023