RCM respond to new NICE antenatal guidelines

Responding to the release today (26 March 2008) of new NICE guidelines for pregnant women, Mervi Jokinen of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "We welcome the guidelines which are evidence based, but feel that more clarity is needed about pregnancy and alcohol.

"Midwives are there to discuss the evidence with women and encourage informed choice about drinking alcohol when pregnant. However, we are concerned that many women will be unsure about what a unit of alcohol is, and therefore may drink more than the guidelines recommend.

"There is indeed no evidence to suggest that low levels of alcohol are harmful to the baby after the first three months of pregnancy. However, our advice is to remove all doubt and avoid alcohol whilst pregnant, and for women to stop drinking alcohol if they are trying to start a family. The advice on avoiding binge drinking is also a public health message for everybody, not just pregnant women.

"We also support the advice on earlier screening outlined in the guidelines. However, earlier screening needs earlier contact with a midwife. We have got to make sure that midwives are therefore quickly and easily accessible in the community, and that they are the first point of contact for newly pregnant women."


The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) aims to promote and advance the profession of the midwife. The RCM represents over 95% of the UK's midwives and is one of the world's oldest and one of the largest midwifery organisations, and celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2006. It is also a trade union.

Royal College of Midwives