Pregnancy - Alcohol and other Drugs

Pregnancy is a time of great change. If you are pregnant, or thinking about having a baby, it is important to consider the types of drugs you might be taking and how they might affect you and your pregnancy.

Drugs that may be harmful during pregnancy include:

  • legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine
  • complementary medicines such as herbal preparations and nutritional supplements
  • “over-the-counter” medicines such as antacids, cold and ‘flu medicines, diet pills, laxatives and painkillers
  • prescribed medicines such as painkillers, tranquillisers and sleeping pills
  • illegal drugs such as cannabis, ‘P’ (methamphetamine), cocaine, ecstasy, GHB, hallucinogens and heroin
  • drugs used to treat opiate or alcohol dependence such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone
  • other substances such as glues and aerosols (inhalants or volatile substances).
Alcohol and Pregnancy

'No alcohol' during pregnancy and breast feeding is the safest choice.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, as well as harm to your baby causing a range of lifelong effects. This range of effects is called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD for short. The effects can include premature birth, brain damage and physical birth defects. The effects continue after the baby is born and can include developmental delay, learning disabilities, and social, emotional and behavioural problems.

Two of the most common complications of drug use during pregnancy are premature labour and small birth size. Babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight have a higher risk of illness and may experience a number of problems.

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of a baby for no known reason. The risk of SIDS is greater if you smoke, use alcohol and/or other drugs during pregnancy or after your baby is born.  For more information about SIDS go to
Cannabis and Pregnancy

Like all drugs, cannabis may have the potential to cause harm to the unborn child and also harm to the baby whilst breastfeeding.  Due to this, it is recommended to not use any level of cannabis during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

‘P’ – Methamphetamine and Pregnancy

Using ‘P’ (methamphetamine) during pregnancy can effect the development of the fetus. Use of any amphetamine type stimulant is associated with bleeding, premature labour and miscarriage. Babies born to mothers who have used amphetamines during pregnancy are at increased risk of abnormalities such as small head size, eye problems, cleft palate, delayed motor development, limb defects and changes in the brain.

Prescription Drugs and Pregnancy

Some drugs available from your chemist or prescribed by your doctor may have an effect on your developing fetus. Always read the label,  tell your chemist or doctor that you are pregnant and ask if you should be aware of any potential side effects or possible complications while you are pregnant and breast feeding.  For more information go to  

More information and Resources
Need Help Now?

To talk to someone about your or someone else’s alcohol or other drug use, or for contacts of your local counsellor or treatment provider, phone the free (from mobile or landline) and confidential Alcohol Drug Helpline:

Ph: 0800 787 797 - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Or visit

In an Emergency dial 111

Last modified: