Map your steps - Alcohol and Pregnancy

Activity may include some or all steps below, depending on the capacity of the LDAT and partner community organisations.

The key steps involved in delivering alcohol and pregnancy activities are provided below as a useful starting point for developing your Community Action Plan activity and informing your approach. These steps provide an indicative guide; it is important to tailor your approach to your local community.

  1. Engage your community to start conversations about the effects of alcohol on pregnancy
  2. Support your community by gathering and providing evidence of the risks associated with alcohol and pregnancy
  3. Consider available activities and link with one that may suit your community
  4. Support your community by facilitating open and inclusive communication channels
  5. Promote and support collaboration.

LDATs are not responsible for delivering alcohol and pregnancy activities, unless the group has the appropriate expertise. Their role is primarily to support communities to deliver quality activities to support community members to abstain from alcohol consumption prior to and during pregnancy.

Engaging the community

Engage the community to get alcohol and pregnancy on the agenda by:

A critical role of LDATs is to engage with their community to put alcohol consumption during pregnancy on the public agenda and to motivate them to take action.

Tips for engaging the community

  • Identify community organisations that you may partner with. See Section 2c: Working with community partners.
  • Identify key contacts and/or gatekeepers.
    Find a named person in the organisation who can act as a champion and invest time into this relationship. A champion may be in a leadership role, have an influential personality or be a proactive person who is passionate about preventing alcohol and other drug harms. For example, key contacts may include local doctors or family planning service staff. Meet face-to-face if you can, rather than just sending out information via email.
  • When discussing the recommendation of abstaining from alcohol consumption during pregnancy, provide evidence on the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy and promote the benefits to parents and the broader community. Show them how alcohol and pregnancy activities align with their core business and values.
  • Answer the question ‘What’s in it for me?’ by finding the hook for them. For example, are they motivated to deliver alcohol and pregnancy activities due to existing problems (e.g. high risk drinking culture, prevalence of FASD)?
  • Be aware of the sensitive nature and complexity of the topic. The task of abstaining from alcohol consumption can be challenging in a community where alcohol and socialising goes hand in hand and varied ‘expert’ and anecdotal information can place pressure on parents-to-be.

Providing evidence on the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy

Providing women in your community and their families with quality information and resources on alcohol and pregnancy by:

Pregnant women can often be bombarded with do’s and don’ts and may receive conflicting advice or minimal information on alcohol and pregnancy.

LDATs can be a resource for community organisations by providing them with evidence and data on the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy to help combat the mixed messages women may hear in the media and through their social circles.

Providing clear, evidence-based facts on the impact and effects of alcohol consumption in pregnancy is important. Information should be aligned with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. The guidelines state that alcohol consumption can harm the developing or breastfeeding baby, and recommend that for women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option.1

LDATs can provide advice and support to help community organisations to determine a course of action for delivering quality alcohol and pregnancy activities, such as delivering awareness raising initiatives to debunk commonly held myths around alcohol consumption during pregnancy in the community.

Useful resource

Linking community organisations to quality programs

A key role of LDATs is to link community members to quality Alcohol and Pregnancy activities, which may include:

Support your partners to get a small win on the board, in order to build momentum and a sense of accomplishment. This will strengthen their action to prevent alcohol and other drug harms off to a positive start.

Supporting community organisations with communication

Working with identified community organisations to facilitate open communication about alcohol and pregnancy by:

Communication around alcohol and pregnancy is important, and if done poorly, may lead to poor uptake of activities and community misunderstanding due to people being ill informed about the purpose, content and outcomes/benefits of the activities.

Your group can support community organisations with communication. This may include helping groups to develop promotional materials, promoting activities and providing a sounding board on how to frame and communicate different activities.

Key considerations when communicating alcohol and pregnancy activities:

  • Focus on raising awareness of activities, how the activities can help people and where people can find them
  • Ensure all communication is inclusive. Alcohol and Pregnancy activities are targeted to pregnant women and their partners, family and friends, and couples planning on having children – but are relevant for the entire community
  • Be culturally sensitive and ensure the language is relevant to the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the local community
  • Focus on debunking commonly held myths about alcohol consumption in pregnancy (e.g. “everything in moderation” does not apply to alcohol in pregnancy. Any alcohol you drink will pass through the placenta to your baby)
  • Use “person-centred” language focusing on the person, not their substance use
  • Focus on the damage that alcohol can do – rather than blaming the pregnant woman
  • Address the reasons that women in the community drink while pregnant
  • Be respectful, positive and supportive. Avoid language that may be perceived as judgemental and that may incite or perpetuate the social stigma associated with the consumption of alcohol in pregnancy
  • Ensure consistency with the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol2
  • Focus on the positives: Alcohol and Pregnancy activities deliver benefits for children, parents and the broader community.

Useful resources

Promoting collaboration between community organisations

Promote collaboration between community organisations to:

LDATs have a key role in facilitating productive partnerships in the community. Collaboration between community organisations may focus on:

  • Delivering community-wide awareness raising initiatives and education activities
  • Building supportive and inclusive healthcare services to reduce stigma and increase health seeking behaviour. Research has demonstrated that pregnant women with alcohol use issues are much less likely to engage in treatment due to social stigma and feelings of guilt. Facilitating safe and supportive healthcare services is a key goal in making pregnant women feel comfortable and confident enough to seek treatment and support
  • Helping to create a culture where the harm caused by consuming alcohol during pregnancy is fully understood and pregnant women do not feel pressured to drink
  • Creating strong community referral networks. Working with healthcare service providers to facilitate referral pathways for women and couples who are planning pregnancy, or who are pregnant will strengthen your community’s response to this issue.

Measuring success and reporting

Measure and report on the success of your Alcohol and Pregnancy activity.

  1. Collect evaluation measures to success with the community organisations you are engaging with as well as the women and their families you have been reaching with your Alcohol and Pregnancy activity (see Measure your success). Consider doing follow-up with both the community organisations you are engaging with as well as the women and their families you have been reaching to track their progress
  2. Report on your success, acquit your funds and consider other things you can do to support your community (see Next steps).

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