Is It Ever Ok To Drink a Beer During Pregnancy?

Pregnant person holding a beer

Westend61 / Getty Images

You know that drinking alcohol is a big "no" during pregnancy. But maybe beer has been one of your weird pregnancy cravings, and you're wondering if a sip or two is OK. Or, perhaps you're wondering if it’s safe to drink one small beer at a birthday bash. Would a beer with low alcohol content, or a non-alcoholic beer, cut it?

Unfortunately, there is no amount of beer that's considered safe to consume during pregnancy. Even a beer that’s labeled “non-alcoholic” may contain some traces of alcohol. 

Here’s why healthcare providers advise you to avoid drinking beer during pregnancy and how drinking puts your pregnancy and baby at risk

Risks Associated With Drinking Beer During Pregnancy

The CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) agree that no amount of beer — or any alcohol — is safe to drink during pregnancy. While it’s known that moderate and heavy drinking during pregnancy isn’t safe, it’s unknown if there is any safe amount of alcohol pregnant people can drink.

While pregnant, any alcohol that goes into your bloodstream passes to your baby via the umbilical cord. As such, you are advised to not drink any amount of alcohol if you’re pregnant.

Drinking while pregnant can put your pregnancy at risk of complications and cause pregnancy loss, preterm birth, and lifelong disabilities. A 2020 study found that each week of alcohol consumption between 5 and 10 weeks pregnant increased the chance of miscarriage by 8%. 

Additionally, a 2019 review found for pregnant people who drank five or fewer alcoholic drinks a week, each additional drink per week increased their risk of miscarriage by 6%. Drinking during pregnancy also increases your risk of stillbirth, when a baby dies before or during delivery after 20 weeks gestation. 

How Beer Can Affect a Developing Fetus

One of the greatest concerns regarding beer and alcohol consumption during pregnancy is its damaging effects on developing babies. Fetuses also can't break down alcohol like adults. Any alcohol passed to a fetus, from the parent's blood through the umbilical cord, can stay in their body for long periods of time.

Babies whose bodies are damaged by alcohol are born with a group of disabilities known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome can persist throughout life. 

Children who have fetal alcohol syndrome may experience:

  • Low birth weight
  • Vision and hearing issues
  • Developmental delays
  • Trouble concentrating and paying attention
  • Learning and behavioral issues in school
  • Difficulty socializing
  • Medical and behavioral issues throughout life which may require assistance
  • A vulnerability to substance abuse disorders

Heavy drinking while pregnant (around 5 drinks a day) can also lead to premature birth, or having a baby before 37 weeks. Drinking during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy increases your risk of preterm delivery.

Premature babies often deal with health issues because their bodies are not fully developed. Health complications for premature babies include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Feeding issues
  • Hearing and vision problems
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delays

In addition, babies born earlier than 32 weeks are more likely to die or have disabilities.

How Drinking Beer May Affect You

Drinking beer while pregnant may also affect your health. Though more research is needed, there appears to be a relationship between alcohol consumption and high blood pressure during pregnancy. A 2018 study found that pregnant people who consumed more than 12.5 alcoholic drinks per week had higher odds of experiencing pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders. 

High blood pressure during pregnancy (known medically as gestational hypertension) often goes away after birth, but it can put you at risk of developing chronic high blood pressure later in life. Pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders like preeclampsia and eclampsia can also cause long-term and life-threatening complications for baby and parent. 

Preeclampsia can lead to organ damage and failure, preterm birth, infant health issues, pregnancy loss, and stroke. If a pregnant person develops eclampsia, they can have seizures that cause coma or death.

Is It Safe to Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer During Pregnancy?

If you’re craving the taste of beer during pregnancy, but don't want to take any risks consuming alcohol, you may wonder if drinking non-alcoholic beer is safe. Unfortunately, most experts also advise against drinking non-alcoholic beer during pregnancy.

But why? Even beers labeled alcohol-free or non-alcoholic have some trace amounts of alcohol. Studies also show these beverages often have higher amounts of alcohol than advertised on their labels.

When Is It Safe to Drink Beer?

Most birthing and breastfeeding parents can safely drink a beer or two after their baby is born — provided they have clearance from their healthcare provider. 

Just be mindful that you avoid drinking any amount that makes you unable to care for your baby. When you’re drinking, you should also have another sober caretaker nearby. It's also important never to fall asleep in the same bed or sleep area with a baby while you’re under the influence of alcohol. This can increase a baby's risk of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

If you’re breastfeeding, you can still enjoy a beer, but doing so safely is all about moderation and timing. The CDC recommends drinking no more than the equivalent of one alcoholic beverage at a time. For beer, this would be 12 ounces of a 5% beer. Because alcohol peaks in breast milk 30-60 minutes after drinking, the CDC recommends waiting 2-3 hours to feed your baby after drinking one beer.

Your breast milk’s alcohol level is very similar to your blood alcohol level. So how long alcohol stays in your breast milk also depends on how much you drank, how fast you drank, your weight, and whether you drank and ate food.  

A Quick Review

You should not drink any amount of beer, or any alcohol, while you’re pregnant. While it’s well known moderate and heavy drinking during pregnancy is dangerous, there is also no established “safe” amount of alcohol you can drink while pregnant. Even non-alcoholic beers may contain small amounts of alcohol and it’s best to avoid them during pregnancy. 

But if you drank a beer before you knew you were pregnant, it’s unlikely you’ve caused any serious harm to yourself or your baby. Once you find out you're pregnant, it’s important to stop drinking any alcohol. 

If you struggle with an alcohol use disorder or have a hard time cutting out alcohol, talk with your healthcare provider about getting help. It's vital you share your drinking habits with your provider openly so that you and your baby receive the necessary care. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have been drinking and are showing signs of miscarriage or preterm birth — including bleeding, leaking fluids, cramping, or contractions.

You can also find additional resources at Alcoholics Anonymous’ website ( or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website ( and treatment referral line at 800-662-HELP (4357).

Was this page helpful?
Sources uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Alcohol and pregnancy

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol use during pregnancy.

  3. Sundermann AC, Velez Edwards DR, Slaughter JC, et al. Week-by-week alcohol consumption in early pregnancy and spontaneous abortion risk: A prospective cohort study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2021;224(1):97.e1-97.e16. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2020.07.012

  4. Sundermann AC, Zhao S, Young CL, et al. Alcohol use in pregnancy and miscarriage: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2019;43(8):1606-1616. doi:10.1111/acer.14124

  5. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Management of stillbirth.

  6. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol and your pregnancy.

  7. Ikehara S, Kimura T, Kakigano A, Sato T, Iso H. Association between maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy and risk of preterm delivery: The Japan Environment and Children's Study. BJOG. 2019;126(12):1448-1454. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.15899

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preterm birth.

  9. Iwama, N., Metoki, H., Nishigori, H. et al. Association between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in Japan: The Japan Environment and Children's Study. Hypertens Res. 2019;42:85–94. doi:10.1038/s41440-018-0124-3

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High blood pressure during pregnancy.

  11. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Preeclampsia and eclampsia.

  12. Adiong JP, Kim E, Koren G, Bozzo P. Consuming non-alcoholic beer and other beverages during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Can Fam Physician. 2014;60(8):724-725.

  13. Goh YI, Verjee Z, Koren G. Alcohol content in declared non-to low alcoholic beverages: Implications to pregnancy. Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2010;17(1):e47-50.

  14. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to keep your sleeping baby safe: AAP policy explained.

  15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding and special circumstances: Alcohol

Related Articles