December is here, and with it comes all the excitement, anticipation, and tasty treats that the holiday season brings. Indulging is a common theme throughout the holiday season. We love to fill up on delicious chocolate, candy, and baked goods to keep our minds off the cold and snowy weather outside.
Alcohol is one common treat that we often overindulge in during the holiday season. Studies have found that in the wider population, individual’s alcohol consumption increases around specific social events (such as on days like Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) and data from the 2015 sales of wine and liquor show a massive spike in retail sales from December 6thto January 2nd.
Remember, there is no safe time, no safe amount, and no safe type of alcohol to consume during pregnancy. The safest and healthiest option is not to drink at all. However, abstaining from alcohol this holiday season can be a challenge as the holiday party invites and dinners just keep coming. If you’re finding not drinking a challenge this holiday season here’s some tips to keep in mind:
- You can say no
Remember it’s okay to prioritize your health and the health of your child over social events. You have every right to say “no” when you receive those invites to holiday celebrations. If you feel that attending these events will put you in a vulnerable situation, decline your invitation or make the decision to leave the party earlier. You don’t have to feel obligated to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing this holiday season.
- Bring a sober buddy
Ask a friend or family member that you trust to refrain from drinking alcohol with you. This could just be for events that you attend together, or it could be the entire duration of your pregnancy. Be sure this is someone you trust to maintain their sobriety along with you, and have serious conversations beforehand about the length and duration of their sobriety.
- Get help
This is the most important tip. You are not alone; many women find it challenging to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. There are a number of resources and services available to help support you stop or even reduce your alcohol consumption. Check in with your family doctor or look into local services to find the best option for you and your family. It’s never too late!
Friends, families, and community members also play a key role in FASD prevention. Here are some tips that everyone can follow to help women have safe and healthy pregnancies this holiday season and beyond:
- Provide alcohol-free options
If you’re hosting a holiday party or event, make sure there are alcohol-free options available for those who are choosing not to drink. Fun and fancy alcohol-free mocktails can make people who aren’t drinking feel included, and they don’t draw attention to someone’s abstinence.
- Respect everyone’s choices
There are many reasons people might choose not to drink this holiday season. People might be pregnant, recovering from addiction, abstaining for health reasons, are the designated driver, or could simply not want to. Refrain from questions like “why aren’t you drinking?” sentences like “just one can’t hurt”. Drawing attention to someone’s sobriety can lead to feelings of stigmatization and isolation.
- Support pregnant mothers
You can help to support healthy pregnancies by hosting alcohol-free events or choosing to go alcohol-free along with your pregnant friends or family members.
If you do drink alcohol while pregnant please visit your doctor or reach out to a local prenatal support programs. They can provide you with the services and resources to support you and your baby’s health, such as:
- Nutrition and health counselling;
- Peer group support;
- Referral to counselling services;
- Help to deal with drug and alcohol issues;
- Support to stop smoking;
- And many more!
Have a safe and happy holiday season, from everyone at CanFASD!