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Alcohol, Smoking, Substance Misuse & Domestic Abuse

Alcohol and Pregnancy

It is recommended that all pregnant women avoid consuming alcohol in pregnancy as it increases the risk of fetal abnormalities and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Your baby's liver is not fully developed and can not process alcohol out of his/her system.

Smoking and Pregnancy

It is not advised to smoke during pregnancy due to the risks to your unborn baby and to yourself. If you do smoke we offer a smoking cessation service and can refer you for support.

Through the stop smoking services you can access free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) along with regular support from a trained stop smoking advisor. You are four times more likely to quit with the help of an advisor and using NRT.

Stop smoking services in County Durham are provided by ABL Health. Please visit for more details.


Substance Misuse and Pregnancy

It may take courage, but it is always better to let your midwife know if you have taken any drugs or substances at any time in your pregnancy, we will be able to ensure individualised care is provided for the health of you and your baby.

The misuse of substances in pregnancy can potentially have risks for your unborn baby. If you regularly use drugs/substances it's important to try to face this now while you're pregnant. It is best not to stop abruptly without seeking medical advice due to possible withdrawal problems or side effects.

Treatment can benefit you and your unborn baby, you can seek help from your midwife, GP or obstetrician and they will be able to support you with access to a wide range of services.


Domestic Abuse

The UK government's definition of domestic violence is: "any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, and emotional."

The problem of domestic violence & abuse is much bigger than shown in official statistics, as many victims and children don't tell anyone about the abuse.

Families may live with domestic violence & abuse for a significant period before getting effective help.

There are many reasons why families live with domestic violence & abuse for a significant period of time, or return to their abuser after attempting to leave. It may not be apparent to the victim that a relationship is abusive. They may be afraid of the abuser, and fear the consequences for others if they disclose the abuse. The victim may not know where to turn for help.

It is known to often start or get worse during pregnancy. Midwives and other health professionals can offer advice and support in relation to domestic violence and abuse.

Those wishing to access confidential specialist support directly should contact Harbour Tel 03000 20 25 25  Email: Website:

Claires Law

'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly, efficiently and professionally with full explanations and compassion from all staff involved'.

Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital