Alcohol, Pregnancy and Partner Support

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 Ways Partners Can Support Women

Service providers can talk to women about what they would find supportive. Some of the things women might find helpful include having their partner:

Take a pause from alcohol during the pregnancy by quitting or cutting down. Avoid drinking around her and in social situations when they are together.

Tell family, friends and anyone offering her alcohol that there is no known safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy and no known safe amount.

Offer her non-alcoholic drinks (e.g., mocktails) and bring non-alcoholic drinks to social events.

Take part in social and recreational activities with her that don’t involve alcohol.

Help reduce the stress in her life. (You can ask her for specific details of how you might do this.)

Let'sTalk

Many partners want to support their pregnant partners. Service providers can involve partners directly and indirectly by:

• Including information about how partners can support women in both preconception and prenatal materials.

• Asking women if they would like to invite their partner or a close family member or friend to their next appointment to discuss how they can support them in achieving an alcohol-free pregnancy, as well as making healthy choices overall.

 

• Sharing suggestions of how soon-to-be parents can be supportive of their pregnant partners. Encourage partners to ask pregnant women what kind of support they need to avoid alcohol, reduce stress and still have fun.

Remember: a partner can be male or female, and some women may not have the support of a partner and may rely on family or friends.

Many partners are interested in thinking about or changing their own alcohol and drug use as they prepare for parenthood. Service providers can provide information and connect partners with community resources. (It’s best to do this separately from a woman’s care and treatment.)

From a harm-reduction perspective, the message all women need to hear is “It’s never too late to quit.”

A healthy baby isn’t just a mother’s responsibility. Everyone involved plays a role. It’s a give-and-take relationship for everybody. So, you are a very important part of your partner’s pregnancy.

How To Help

Keep stress levels under control. Stress is a part of everybody’s life, but pregnancy can increase stress for both a mother and her partner. Find positive ways to deal with your stress, and help your partner deal with hers in healthy ways. Here are some suggestions for managing stress: talk about your worries, exercise, get enough sleep and rest, eat well, learn relaxation techniques, and take one thing at a time. Get help if needed.

Be patient and supportive. A pregnant woman often feels physically uncomfortable. Being pregnant can affect her moods. Try to communicate. Try to understand what she is going through.

Help your partner. This includes helping with childcare and housework. Maybe she’d like a massage. Ask her if she needs help in other ways. For example, she may ask people not to use alcohol or other drugs around her. She may ask them not to smoke around her. Or she might need your help to find professional support (such as counselling).

Put her needs first. Other people’s drug use can affect your pregnant partner and the baby. It’s okay to tell people not to drink, smoke or use other drugs around her. This is not always easy to do. Remember: your support makes it easier for her.

Click to download the ‘Alcohol, Pregnancy and Partner Support’ information sheet.

FASD Let's talk about logo 2014

For more information please visit:http://fasd.alberta.ca/information-for-partners.aspx

Created by and reproduced with kind permission from the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health

References

1. van der Wulp, N.Y., C. Hoving, and H. de Vries, A qualitative investigation of alcohol use advice during pregnancy: Experiences of Dutch midwives, pregnant women and their partners. Midwifery, 2013. In Press.

2. Gearing, R.E., T. McNeill, and F.A. Lozier, Father involvement and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: Developing best practices. Fetal Alcohol Research 2005. 3: p. e14.

3. Mellingen, S., T. Torsheim, and F. Thuen, Changes in alcohol use and relationship satisfaction in Norwegian couples during pregnancy. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention & Policy, 2013. 8(1): p. 1-11.

4. Everett, K.D., et al, Men’s tobacco and alcohol use during and after pregnancy. American Journal of Men’s Health, 2007. 1(4): p. 317-325.

5. Chang, G., et al, Brief Intervention for Prenatal Alcohol Use: A Randomized Trial. Obstet Gynecol, 2005. 105(5 Pt1): p. 991-998.

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