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News that you’re pregnant is wonderful, but it will mean making some lifestyle changes. Until the baby arrives, alcohol is something that needs to be avoided. Since having a glass of wine or a drink now and then may be more common than you realized, it takes intentional choices to ensure you aren’t tempted to imbibe and increase the risk to your child. Here are some basic tips that will help you continue to enjoy your days and remain alcohol free.

1. Have a Discussion with Your Partner or Spouse 

The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to take on this task by yourself. Sit down with your spouse or partner and state your intention to remain sober throughout the pregnancy. Involve your partner in this decision by seeking the loving support that spouses provide.

Together, the two of you can come up with a basic plan of action that’s workable. Perhaps your spouse would be willing to only drink away from your presence. Maybe in a show of solidarity, your spouse will decide to also avoid alcohol for the duration of the pregnancy.

There is no one right way to support you. Whatever the two of you decide is best will work fine.

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2. Remove All Alcohol from the Home 

Home will become more of a sanctuary than before. That’s one reason why you should remove all forms of alcohol from your personal space. That includes wine, beer, stronger spirits, and even the cooking sherry in the kitchen cupboard. When the alcohol is never more than a few footsteps away, the temptation to have just a little at some point will be strong.

Removing the alcohol means you would have to put forth effort in order to have a drink. As the pregnancy progresses, you will have times when there’s not much energy. During those days, the idea of getting dressed, driving to pick up a bottle of wine, and getting back home with it will seem like too much effort. Don’t worry; the momentary craving will pass and your mind will turn to other things.

3. Load Up on Healthy and Tasty Alternatives

Just getting rid of all alcohol in the home is not enough. You want to replace it with something that tastes good and helps to calm any momentary desire for a drink. This is a great time to experiment with using mixes and other ingredients to create virgin cocktails. It can actually be a lot of fun trying out different combinations and seeing how they taste. If they include using real fruit and other ingredients with some nutritional value, that’s all the better.

Remember that you can purchase beer products that don’t contain alcohol. There are also sparkling beverages that are a nice substitute for champagne. Give those a try. You may find the taste is satisfying enough to quell the craving.

4. Bring Your Own Bottle to Parties

Being pregnant and committed to avoiding alcohol consumption doesn’t mean you have to put your social life on hold. You can still attend all sorts of events and spend time with your loved ones. If you know that cocktails will be served, come prepared. Bring along your own substitute and ask for an empty glass. You still have something refreshing to hold in your hand, banish your thirst, and enjoy the party.

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5. Join a Support Group 

Support groups are not just for those with alcohol problems. Look around and find a group for expectant mothers and attend regularly. Many of them have also taken the pledge to not drink while carrying the baby. The group members will understand how avoiding alcohol is easy some days and difficult on others. The positive reinforcement that you give and receive will come in handy if the urge to drink is powerful now and then.

6. Take Things One Day at a Time 

The idea of not drinking alcohol for months on end may seem intimidating. Do you really have what it takes to stick with it? The answer is yes, but the perception that you won’t see your favorite drink again for a long time could increase the desire to have just one.

Change your frame of mind by not thinking about the weeks and months to come. Instead, focus on what you will do today. Your immediate goal is to not have anything to drink during the next 24 hours. Consider what you will need to adjust in order to achieve that short-term goal. Tomorrow, you can make the same vow again. As the habit becomes more ingrained, not having an alcoholic beverage will be much easier.

7. Remember That It’s for You and Your Baby

On those days when it would really be nice to have a beer or some mixed drink, take a step back and remind yourself why you are avoiding alcohol right now. Specifically, think of how much better off you and your baby will be thanks to the effort.

If necessary, remind yourself of the increased risk that alcohol consumption has to you and to your unborn child. At the same time, go over the benefits that can come from abstaining for the next several months. Keeping those important matters in mind will help you get through days when it would be so easy to have just one drink.

If you are really struggling, you may realize that you have an alcohol addiction, and you may need to turn to professional help. You may even need to seek out a rehab program or a recovery meeting with groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery.

You’ve got this. Make your commitment and enlist the aid of your loved ones. Take things as they come and focus on why this is the right thing for you and the baby. Some days will be difficult, but others will be easy. When you’re holding the baby in your arms, you’ll know the effort was worth it.

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