Planning - Alcohol and Pregnancy
We recommend LDATs support communities to deliver existing, evidence-informed alcohol and pregnancy programs in their community.
Existing or new programs
A number of evidence-informed projects exist in Australia. These include:
- Pregnant Pause. Pregnant Pause is an initiative developed by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), an independent not-for-profit working to stop the harm caused by alcohol. The initiative encourages Australians to go alcohol-free during their pregnancy, or the pregnancy of their partner, family member, friend or loved one. .
- Your Fertility. Developed by a coalition of leading reproductive health organisations, this education program aims to ensure that every Australian who wants children has the best chance to have a healthy baby. The program focuses on five key factors to optimise fertility including abstaining from alcohol consumption.
- Women Want To Know. Developed by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), the Women Want to Know project encourages health professionals to routinely discuss alcohol and pregnancy with women and to provide advice that is consistent with national guidelines.
A number of other awareness raising initiatives and education activities focused on reducing alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and ideally abstaining from alcohol consumption, are delivered across Australia, including online learning packages, face-to-face training, workshops, seminars and conferences. Many focus specifically on preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
LDATs can contact the following two reputable organisations to explore their current training opportunities and whether they are relevant and available to deliver in their community:
- National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (NOFASD). NOFASD offer information and training sessions primarily for parents and carers.
- FASD HUB Australia. FASD Hub Australia is a website developed by an alliance of organisations working to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for evidence-informed information, tools and resources. The website lists education and training opportunities for health and other professionals, parents and carers.
We recommend LDATs link community organisations with existing, evidence-informed alcohol and pregnancy activities. Be mindful that the way that activities are delivered has an impact on desired outcomes – see Critical considerations for the delivery of alcohol and pregnancy activities.
Review section below Determine resources required and Map your steps for insight into what is required when supporting communities to develop alcohol and pregnancy activities.
Critical considerations for the delivery of Alcohol and Pregnancy projects
Delivering evidence-informed activities is complex and challenging. The quality of the delivery has an impact on desired outcomes, meaning that activities, even effective ones, may not produce the desired effects for parents and children. Therefore, attention to how activities are delivered or implemented is as important to child, parent and community outcomes as what is delivered.
It is important that activities to support women to abstain from alcohol consumption during pregnancy are:
- Culturally sensitive to the community where it is being delivered
- Informed by community knowledge, attitudes and practices
- Focused on the damage that alcohol can do, and does not focus on blaming the pregnant individual
- Engaging not only women, but also men
- Consistent with the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol1
- Sensitive to the social stigma associated with the consumption of alcohol in pregnancy, as this may prevent women who are experiencing alcohol-use-disorder from accessing treatment services
- Focused on addressing the reasons that women in the community drink while pregnant.
Some factors that contribute to alcohol consumption include:
- Lack of knowledge about the effects of alcohol on the fetus
- Having a partner or friend who drinks
- Lack of support from partner, friends and family
- Living in a family or community tolerant of heavy drinking
- Social isolation or living in remote communities
- Stress, domestic violence, loneliness which may result in self-medicating
- Alcohol and other drug dependency (FASD Australia , 2018).
Your group may decide to select one or a combination of these factors to address in your efforts to support community members to abstain from alcohol consumption during pregnancy in your community. These factors may help you define the objectives of your activities and guide you in your decision making about partnerships and resources.
Set your objectives
Setting objectives for your Community Action Plan activity is an important part of the planning process.
Communities that are delivering existing activities such as Pregnant Pause can use and/or adapt the objectives already established for these activities. Some example objectives for alcohol and pregnancy activities are provided below. Groups can develop their own objectives, although you may find these a useful starting point.
Over the next six months, work with (xx number) key partners of the (xx name) community to:
- Increase (xx number) community organisations’ knowledge of the harms associated with alcohol during pregnancy
- Increase (xx number) community organisations’ participation in actions to increase awareness of the harms associated with alcohol during pregnancy
- Work with (xx number) community organisations to increase awareness of the NHMRC Pregnancy Drinking Guideline amongst women aged 30 to 50-years, their partners and families
- Work with (xx number) community organisations to change the belief amongst women aged 30 to 50-years, their partners and families, that a few drinks during pregnancy is risk free
- Work with (xx number) community organisations to increase awareness amongst women aged 30 to 50-years, their partners and families of the short-term and long-term risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Working with community partners
Strong partnerships are critical to your success in preventing alcohol and other drug harms in the community.
LDATs will work with a variety of different community partners to deliver alcohol and pregnancy activities, such as health care services and organisations that work directly with pregnant women and their partners, and people undergoing family planning. You may also choose to work directly with service providers to facilitate referral pathways for pregnant women who want to discuss or engage with treatment for alcohol issues.
LDAT partners can support alcohol and pregnancy activities in many different ways, including delivering activities, promoting activities, recruiting participants, providing expert trainers, financial support, and much more.
The specific activities being delivered may influence the type of individuals, networks and organisations that your group partners with.
Partners may include:
- Family planning services
- Maternal Child Health Nurse
- Women’s health services
- General practitioners
- Community health centres and neighbourhood houses
- Providers of prenatal care, e.g healthcare and other activities (e.g. yoga, walking groups)
- Major employers and workplaces
- Local council.
Determine resources required
All Alcohol and Pregnancy activities need to be adequately resourced. Below is an indicative list of resources required for community organisations to effectively deliver alcohol and pregnancy activities. LDATs may be able to support community organisations by providing some of these resources or linking them to other partners who can provide additional support.
- Basic administrative tools. Access to stationary and office supplies, printers, phones, printing, a workspace for administrative duties.
- Venue for Alcohol and Pregnancy sessions
- Funds to undertake police checks/working with children checks where necessary
- Knowledge/materials and/or funds to deliver training of staff
- Knowledge/materials and/or funds to develop promotional material to promote alcohol and pregnancy activities and deliver awareness initiatives
- Personnel time to liaise with community organisations (e.g. attend meetings, provide advice)
- Insurance and liability coverage (where appropriate).
Consider measures of success
While you are planning your activity, it is important to consider measures of success for your activity. Determine how you will evaluate the success of your program linking your success measures to your objectives (see Measuring success).