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Alcohol, Smoking & Drugs

Most women need to make some lifestyle changes to ensure a healthy pregnancy – this could mean changing an exercise routine and getting more rest. Or it could mean giving up an unhealthy habit, such as junk food, drinking, smoking or drug-taking. Remember, when you’re pregnant anything you eat, drink or smoke can affect you and your baby.

ADHB Smokefree Pregnancy Service


When you drink, so does your baby. Alcohol is carried through the placenta into your baby’s bloodstream; it also circulates in the amniotic fluid around your baby. Alcohol can cause permanent brain damage to unborn children - even one or two drinks can affect your baby’s learning abilities. Because you can never be certain of a ‘safe’ time to drink, it is better not to drink at all. Giving up alcohol entirely guarantees that your baby will not have Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). If you find it hard to stop drinking, please talk to your LMC about support services and groups that can help.


Smoking is known to be the biggest problem affecting the health, development and survival of unborn babies. It’s estimated that around 18,000 pregnancies are exposed to the dangers of smoking each year in New Zealand. If you smoke, or are living in an environment where you are exposed to cigarette smoke, your LMC can provide support and suggest solutions, including referral to our smokefree pregnancy programme.

ADHB Smokefree Pregnancy Service

Face-to-face intensive smoking cessation support is available for all pregnant women and their family members living in the ADHB area. The service includes home visits, telephone follow-up and subsidised nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Your Smokefree counsellor will help you to understand the habits associated with smoking and how nicotine works. He/she will work with you or your family member to develop a quit plan.

Ask your midwife to refer you to ADHB Smokefree Pregnancy ServiceThe service includes Maori and Pacific Island facilitators.

To contact Smokefree Pregnancy Services:

  • Phone: 0800 667833 or (09) 307 4949 ext 27867 (leave a message - the line is cleared regularly)
  • Email:


Illegal recreational drugs (including speed, ecstasy, LSD and marijuana) are a definite threat to your baby. Harder drugs (cocaine, heroin and ‘P’) come with the additional threat of addiction, which means your baby will experience very unpleasant withdrawal effects after birth. If you have a drug habit, your LMC can provide you with support and access to services and agencies that may be able to help.


The Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Abuse (FADE) website has comprehensive information about alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) website is a good source of information about the affects of alcohol and what to do if you have an alcohol problem.
National Women's Health
Phone: 09 307 4949
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