While many women may think a small glass or two of wine while pregnant is okay, a new Western Australian campaign is telling the public otherwise.
An advertising campaign worth $350,000, funded by the WA State Government, is telling women that no alcohol is the safest option when pregnant or while trying to conceive. The campaign is aimed at women of child-bearing age who consume low to moderate amounts of alcohol. (See one of the ads below.)
WA is the first state to send this message in a public campaign.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said that as there was no evidence to prove that even small amounts of alcohol are all right for pregnant women, no alcohol was the best advice.
She admitted that some doctors may give contradictory messages, but with the full effects of alcohol on unborn babies not known, it was safest for women to not drink at all.
Women can give their baby the best start in life, and have one less thing to worry about, by going alcohol-free during pregnancy
"Recent Australian research tells us that some women haven't heard of the potential ill-effects of consuming alcohol during pregnancy," she said.
"Women can give their baby the best start in life, and have one less thing to worry about, by going alcohol-free during pregnancy."
Child health specialist Professor Fiona Stanley said guidelines suggesting doctors advise mothers not to drink any alcohol when pregnant had been distributed to doctors about three years ago. She said there was research being done into whether a small amount of alcohol affects unborn babies, but that it was a difficult area to research.
"Do you go back after the babies are born and ask women to describe how much alcohol they had during their pregnancy, when the information may not be correct or women don't want to admit how much they drank, or do you get them to record what they drink during the pregnancy? The ones who do keep a record will probably be the ones not to drink anything," she said.
Professor Stanley said the issue had the potential to make mothers feel guilty for their actions, but that that wasn't the aim of the campaign.
She added that the campaign would send the message to the wider community that women should avoid alcohol while pregnant, therefore creating support for women to take actions to protect their unborn babies.
Do you think the ads will have an impact on drinking in pregnancy? Read what others have to say and join the discussion on the Essential Baby forum.