According to the latest figures approximately 39% of mothers-to-be in Wales drink alcohol, the large majority of whom report drinking only small amounts of alcohol during their pregnancies. Due to a number of factors including a complicated system for measuring how much alcohol we consume and the increasing alcoholic strength of wine it can be easy to underestimate how much alcohol we are drinking. In addition to this while evidence around the harmful effects of foetal alcohol exposure is growing there remains no clear evidence for a safe drinking range when pregnant.

Over the past three years the Aneurin Bevan Gwent Public Health Team, supported by health professionals from inside and outside the NHS, has been developing a clear message on alcohol consumption for pregnant women. The outcome of Picture1this work is the ‘No alcohol no risk’ campaign. The message is clear; the only way to be sure that alcohol won’t harm the unborn child is to avoid alcohol altogether during pregnancy. A pregnant woman steps onto a continuum of risk when she chooses to drink alcohol and this risk increases the more heavily she drinks. As well as a carefully targeted poster campaign the ‘No alcohol no risk’ message has been promoted through training aimed at those professionals who work with pregnant women in their day to day roles. GDAS has been training these professionals to use Alcohol Brief Interventions as a vehicle to promote the ‘No alcohol no risk’ message in one to one consultations.

The Alcohol Brief Intervention is a 5 – 10 minute structured conversation that capitalises on a naturally occurring life event or transition to facilitate a positive change in a person’s drinking. For many women becoming pregnant is that life event. Midwives have long been advocates for a clear and consistent message on drinking in pregnancy and since May 2015 the GDAS training team of Tom Damsell, Lucy Clare and Dan Rowley have trained nearly 200 midwives in Gwent to deliver Alcohol Brief Interventions. These workshops remain the most highly evaluated Alcohol Brief Intervention workshops GDAS has facilitated.

What started out as a local campaign achieved national prominence on 21st September 2015 at Alcohol Concern Cymru’s annual conference when the Chief Medical Officer Ruth Hussey gave her support to the ‘No alcohol no risk campaign.

At the same conference Tom Damsell from GDAS and Jackie Williams from the Aneurin Bevan Gwent Public Health Team ran a series of workshops giving an overview of the history of the campaign and how the ‘No alcohol no risk’ message can be incorporated into an Alcohol Brief Intervention.

Please click on the link below for more details on this and other presentations from the Alcohol Concern 2015 conference