“You are not alone. Support is available.” Alcohol and pregnancy campaign designed by and for Aboriginal women in Manitoba

New poster and brochure from Healthy Child Manitoba


It is important for women to receive clear and supportive information about staying as healthy as possible during pregnancy. This includes receiving appropriate culturally sensitive information about the potential impact of alcohol on pregnancy and ways of preventing FASD.

Women accessing the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba wanted to get this message out to their community. Working with nursing students on practicum, and with help from the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre and Mount Carmel Clinic, they designed the message they wanted women to hear and know: “You are not Alone. Support is available.” Download the poster as a PDF here.

Healthy Child Manitoba worked with the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre at the final design and production stages providing: (1) helpful suggestions about design qualities including the final placement of visuals on the posters and brochures, (2) accurate message and content information for the posters and brochures, and (3) the financial resources for the production of the posters, brochures and promotional items.

Learn more about other FASD prevention initiatives in Manitoba, including Project Choices and the InSight Mentoring Program, on the Healthy Child Manitoba website.

For more on alcohol and pregnancy awareness initiatives in indigenous communities, see earlier posts:

Alcohol and Breastfeeding brochure from the Best Start Resource Centre

Mixing Alcohol and Breastfeeding brochure

In February 2011, Best Start Resource Centre conducted an online survey with parents across Ontario to examine awareness and behaviours regarding breastfeeding and alcohol use.

The researchers found that most women drank little or no alcohol when breastfeeding:

  • 64% did not drink alcohol while breastfeeding
  • 27% drank less than 1 drink a week.
  • 5% drank 1 to 3 drinks per week
  • 4% drank 4 to 6 drinks per week

Most women stopped drinking or reduced the amount that they drank while breastfeeding.

  • 57% stopped drinking altogether
  • 26% reduced the amount of alcohol they drank
  • 18% did not change their drinking habits

Breastfeeding and alcohol survey cover

Women were split on the impact of alcohol use on their decision to feed their baby:

  • 48% felt that drinking alcohol did not impact their decision about how to feed their baby
  • 39% felt that alcohol use did impact their decision on how to feed their baby

In general, the survey showed that:

  • Women with higher incomes had higher levels of alcohol use
  • Women with higher incomes were less likely to stop drinking while breastfeeding

Best Start Resource Centre with the support of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has created a new brochure for mothers and their partners to help them make an informed choice when it comes to drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.

The Centre has also created a printer-ready handout with information and tips for expectant parents about alcohol use in pregnancy which are available in English, French, Arabic, Cree, Ojibway, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Urdu, Chinese, Spanish, and Tagalog.


View more resources on alcohol and pregnancy on the Best Start Resource Centre website here.


Best Start Resource Centre. (2012). Breastfeeding and Alcohol Use: Parent Knowledge and Behaviours in Ontario, 2011. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“Alcohol? Know Your Limit” campaign from Germany

Risky drinking declining faster in girls than boys?

Last week, German Health Minister Daniel Bahr (FDP) and the Federal Centre for Health Education (BzgA) announced a country-wide decline in binge drinking in teenagers and provided an update on the “Alkohol? Kenn dein Limit” campaign.

In 2009, BZgA started a campaign called “Alkohol? Kenn dein Limit” (Alcohol? Know your limit), with financial support from an association of private health insurance companies (about 50 million Euros over three years). The campaign focuses on 16-20 year olds and aims to reduced  binge drinking and risky patterns of alcohol use by increasing awareness about the risks and dangers of alcohol misuse. The campaign includes billboards, TV and cinema ads, brochures, and Facebook.

A year before the campaign started, researchers found that 20% of teenagers (ages 12-17) said they drank five alcoholic drinks or more once a month or more. A recent survey in 2011 suggests that this figure has dropped to approximately 15%. Health Minister Daniel Bahr reports that alcohol is the most widely used substance in Germany; in 2010, approximately 26,000 teenagers between 16 and 20 had been treated in hospital for acute alcohol poisoning.

Interestingly, there appears to be sex differences in the overall decline in teenagers. The decline appears primarily related to changes in drinking practices of girls and in 12-15 year old boys. In 2008, 34% of girls reported drinking more than five drinks at a time once a month; in 2011, this decreased to 22%. There was little change in rates for 16-17 year old boys, who drink the most (almost half drink 5 or more drinks once a month or more).

In the age 18-25 group, more than 50% of young men reported drinking more than five drinks in one night during the previous month – twice that of young women.

Due to these reported sex differences in drinking practices, the next stages of the campaign (which is currently planned to continue for another year) will switch its strategy and use different messages, images and design to target girls versus boys. Check out the campaign website here to take a look. The website does include information/brochures for download on pregnancy and alcohol although this is not a focus in the campaign.

Germany’s 2012 National Drug Strategy includes goals related to reducing the frequency of binge drinking among children and adolescents and abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy. Learn more here.

For more coverage of the campaign, see:

2-3-4-0 Campaign in Quebec

Campaign promotes moderation for men and women

Since Canada’s first Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines were released in November 2011, various provinces and organizations have been developing campaigns and tools to help publicize them. (For more, see previous posts Canada’s new Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and Fact Sheets for Women on Understanding Canada’s New Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines).

In January 2012, Éduc’alcool, an independent, not-for-profit organization launched a campaign based on the new low risk drinking guidelines. (Éduc’alcool’s motto is “Moderation is always in good taste” and promotes a “culture of taste as opposed to drunkenness.”). The campaign includes print, TV, movies, and web ads as well as social media such as Facebook and YouTube. The video above was designed to reach a younger audience. A free booklet on low risk drinking guidelines was made available at liquor stores, hospitals, and community health centres.

The campaign uses the formula 2-3-4-0 to help people apply the low risk drinking guidelines.

“Women who want to avoid long-term problems should limit themselves to two drinks a day and 10 a week. For men, the limits are three drinks a day and 15 a week. That’s the 2-3 part of the expression.

Of course, there is no harm in drinking a little more than that every now and then. On a special occasion, for example, women may have three drinks and men, four, provided, of course, that such “special occasions” don’t occur too frequently. That’s the 3-4 part.

Lastly, to avoid physical and psychological addiction, the recommendation is that everyone should abstain from drinking at least one day a week. That’s the 0.”

As the low risk drinking guidelines emphasize sex differences, the formula takes this into account. Interestingly, three of the six print ads developed for the campaign emphasize sex differences with the messages:

  • “It’s not sexist. It’s science.”
  • “2 for the Lady. 3 for the Gentleman.”
  • “Men can take more.”

While the formula does not address pregnancy, the campaign answers the question “What about pregnant and nursing women?” by saying:

“While there appear to be only minimal risks related to very light drinking during pregnancy, no truly safe limit has been determined. It is therefore recommended that pregnant women and those wanting to become pregnant abstain from drinking. Nursing mothers should not drink before they nurse.”

Éduc’alcool also has a series of publications on “Alcohol and Health” which covers the topics:

  • Pregnancy And Drinking: Your Questions Answered
  • The Effects of Moderate and Regular Alcohol Consumption
  • Alcohol and the Human Body
  • Alcohol and Seniors
  • The Effects of Abusive Drinking
  • Low-Risk Drinking: 2-3-4-5-0
  • Alcohol Combinations

You can download Pregnancy and Drinking: Your Questions Answered here (it’s also available in French) and view the poster ‘Can I  raise a glass to my baby’s health?’ here.

You can also take a look at a resource developed by the Quebec Department of Health and Social Services in 2010 called “Pregnant? Alcohol and drugs – Be proactive” on the addictions section of the website. While the topic of FASD is treated separately within the publication, I thought it was interesting that the publication as a whole addressed alcohol and drugs together rather solely focusing on alcohol (makes sense but it’s usually not how the issue is treated).

The Sacred Journey – new resource for service providers who work with First Nations families

New resource explores the journey from preconception to parenting

The Best Start Resource Centre  in Toronto, Ontario has released a resource for service providers who work with First Nations families called The Sacred Journey from Preconception to Parenting for First Nations Families in Ontario.

Alcohol use and FASD is covered in the sections on preconception and pregnancy, but alcohol use is also discussed from a historical and cultural perspective:

“The impact of intergenerational trauma from disease, forced relocation, religious indoctrination, the residential school system and racism have left a “soul wound” in the heart of First Nations communities (Duran, Duran, 1995)…. When addressing substance use, keep in mind that information and advice may not be enough. Understanding and addressing underlying factors such as poverty, stress, abuse, mental health concerns etc., may be particularly important in setting the stage to address substance use.”

The resource brings together up-to-date statistics on use, practice tips and resources for service providers.

I especially like that the resource challenges service providers to view alcohol use as an issue that is integrated throughout the lifespan and isn’t just something to get concerned about when a woman gets pregnant. Historically, FASD prevention efforts have been very “fetus-centric” and have missed seeing a woman within a greater context (e.g., partner, family, community) as the route for action and awareness.

Jessica Yee (Mohawk), Founder and Executive Director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, comments in the resource:

“I am quite concerned about the isolation of the rest of sexual and reproductive health to pregnancy and birthing. It’s almost as if pregnancy and birthing gets treated like it’s a separate issue—disconnected from other issues like sexual self-esteem and pleasure, and it is typically approached with a very heteronormative, monogamous lens (as in it’s an identified “woman” who is pregnant with an identified “man” and they have a monogamous relationship). This does not allow any resources, support, or dialogue for Two Spirit, transgender, or gender non-conforming persons, alternative families, surrogacy, or single mothers to be.”

This resource can be downloaded for free from the Best Start Resource Centre.

For more on similar resources in Aboriginal/indigenous communities, see previous posts: