What You Need To Know: Preparing for Pregnancy

A healthy pregnancy begins before a positive pregnancy test. Before you become pregnant, it is important to take care of your own health.  Here are some tips for planning a healthy pregnancy
Talk to your health care provider. Discuss medications you take, vaccines you may need, and steps you can take to have a healthy pregnancy
Do not use alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs. Speak with your health care provider if you would like more information about the resources in your community that provide support for alcohol-free pregnancies.
Take at least 400 mcg of folic acid each day. Folic acid is a B vitamin that can prevent major birth defects.2
Try to follow a healthy lifestyle, including eating nutritious foods, exercising appropriately, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night.3
Preparing for Pregnancy

The Truth

Whether you want to become pregnant within the next year or not, it is important to talk to your health care provider about family planning options. 41 percent of pregnancies in North Carolina are unplanned or unintended and many people do not know they are pregnant until 4-6 weeks after conception. By this time, they could have exposed the developing embryo to alcohol without even knowing they were pregnant.


Your doctor said "having one drink will be okay."

Because there is no known amount of alcohol that can be considered safe during pregnancy, it is advised by all major medical associations, including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the U.S. Surgeon General, that if a person is pregnant or could become pregnant, they should abstain from drinking alcohol.

It's a BIG deal

Researchers have learned that even small amounts of alcohol in any form (including beer, wine and hard liquor) anytime during pregnancy can cause physical and cognitive problems such as learning disorders, short-term memory problems, and attention deficit disorder that often don’t show up until children begin school.


What if I drank before I knew I was pregnant?

Don’t panic. The best thing you can do is to stop drinking alcohol as soon as you know you are pregnant. The sooner you stop drinking which includes wine, wine coolers, beer, and hard liquor, the better it will be for both you and your baby.

Then make sure you are maximizing those things you have control over like getting regular prenatal care, taking good care of yourself by not smoking, eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. It is also a good idea to talk to your health care provider about any concerns you may have.

Not every person who consumes alcohol during pregnancy will give birth to a child with FASD. However, to have the healthiest pregnancy possible, abstain from any alcohol use during the entire pregnancy. If you or someone you love needs more information or support about stopping the use of alcohol or other substances, reach out to the Alcohol and Drug Council of North Carolina.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are

Percent Preventable
Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of birth defects in the United States; alcohol use during pregnancy can impact fetal development and cause irreversible birth defects and brain injury. Children with prenatal alcohol exposure are at risk of having fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASD is not a diagnosis but rather an umbrella term describing the range of birth defects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. FASD can be prevented by not drinking any alcohol – including wine, wine coolers, beer, mixed drinks/cocktails, or hard liquor – during pregnancy. If you want support to quit drinking, speak to your health care provider. You can learn more about support and treatment options here.