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Substance Use Prevention, Education, and Resources

Having a Healthy Baby and Family Begins Today

WIC promotes a healthy lifestyle for parents, caregivers, and their families. Alcohol and substance use can damage the physical, mental, and social well-being of everyone in your family.

Preventing substance use is a vital part of promoting a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs, it is important to seek support. This is especially important for people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or are a parent or caregiver.

Parents looking at their baby
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Talk to your health care provider and they can suggest programs to help you stop. WIC has referrals to programs that can help too. WIC’s substance use prevention and referral activities are intended to increase access to information about the dangers of substance use. Ask your WIC counselor.

  • When you smoke, your baby does too. Not smoking helps keep your unborn baby safe and helps you feel better.
  • You can help keep your baby safe by committing to an alcohol-free pregnancy.
  • Seeking support will protect your baby from harmful drugs and alcohol.
See Resources

Quit Smoking

Tobacco contains harmful chemicals that can hurt you and your baby. Smoking while pregnant increases the risk that your baby could:

  • Be born too small or too early
  • Be stillborn or die during infancy
  • Have breathing problems or trouble sleeping
  • Have behavioral problems later in life

Secondhand smoke increases a baby’s risk of asthma, ear infections, allergies, pneumonia, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Hand Stopping Cigarette Keep your baby away from smoke, and away from anyone else who is smoking or vaping. If you are breastfeeding, avoid cigarettes and vapes. Smoking can lower your milk supply and make it harder for your baby to gain weight. Not smoking or vaping can help give your baby a healthy start.
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For the well-being of your baby, avoid beer, wine, wine coolers, and mixed drinks. It is not safe to drink any amount of alcohol during pregnancy. If you drank before knowing you were pregnant, it is important to stop now for your baby’s health.

Take a Break from Alcohol

Take a break from alcohol while you are pregnant. Any drinking during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders , including:

  • Birth defects
  • Problems seeing or hearing
  • Trouble learning
  • Mental and behavioral challenges

Any drinking during pregnancy also increases the chances of miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth for your baby.


Avoid Drugs

Anything that gets you high can harm your baby. Misusing prescription or over the counter drugs can also harm your baby. This includes taking your own prescription in a way not intended by your doctor and taking a prescription drug prescribed for someone else. Using drugs, including misusing prescription drugs, during pregnancy increases the chances that your baby could:

  • Be born too small, too early, or stillborn
  • Be born addicted to drugs
  • Have a birth defect, deformities, or trouble breathing
  • Have learning, behavioral, or other health problems throughout life
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Avoid using drugs like marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, meth, and other drugs that can harm your baby. Ask for help if you are using drugs. Even if you struggled to quit before, try again now for the sake of your baby. Drugs can also pass into your breastmilk and to your baby. If you have a dependence or addiction to any opioids, including illegal opioids, like heroin, it is dangerous to stop on your own. Your doctor can help you, whether your medication has been prescribed or not.

Asking Doctor

Ask Before Taking Medicines

Talk to your doctor before starting or stopping prescription medicines, including pain medicines. Some are safe to take during pregnancy, while others should be avoided. These include prescription, over-the-counter medications, and dietary or herbal supplements. Taking certain medicines during pregnancy increases the chances that your baby could:

  • Be born too small, too early, or stillborn
  • Have high-pitched crying and be hard to comfort
  • Have a birth defect, developmental problems, or seizures
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Only take medicines that your doctor says are safe during pregnancy. Medicines you used before you got pregnant may not be safe to take now. Even those medicines sold over the counter at a drugstore or grocery store may hurt your baby.

WIC Supports You

Talk to your health care provider or WIC staff for referrals. These resources are for you or anyone that you know who is struggling with substance, alcohol, or tobacco use. These substances may be harmful to you, your baby, and your children.

WIC Customer Service
Smiling Hug
Hands Icon

Quitting is hard. Know that you are not alone. There are people who understand what you are going through. They can help you quit, give you tips, and support you along the way.

WIC Offers These Resources

Talk to your health care provider or WIC staff for referrals.
  • Drinking and Your Pregnancy Website and print version contain a Q&A and resources for help and additional information. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • Screen Your Alcohol Intake
    Confidential self-assessment of alcohol consumption.
  • CDPH’s Alcohol Harms Prevention Initiative (AHPI)
    CDPH’s Alcohol Harms Prevention Initiative (AHPI) supports statewide efforts to reduce the harmful economic, health, and social impacts of excessive alcohol use. Visit AHPI to learn about alcohol basics, health effects, and resources.
  • NEW! Read about Opioid Abuse, signs of substance use disorder, and what to do if you or someone you know has a substance use disorder from the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
  • Choose Change California has information on the treatment process and treatment services near you.
  • For immediate support when experiencing a suicidal, mental health and/or substance use-related crisis: text/call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Tobacco and Vaping
  • Kick It California - Quit Now Free counseling and support to help you quit:
  • E-cigarettes and Pregnancy Provides information about what e-cigarettes are, if they are safer than regular cigarettes during pregnancy, their role in helping people to quit smoking, and resources to support those who are trying to quit. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC
  • Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke Outlines the health effects of secondhand smoke on infants, children and adults, with the Children in the Home page providing additional information on the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure to children. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC
  • The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke Provides information about what secondhand smoke is, the negative effects it can have on pregnancy and birth outcomes, the effects (including long-term) it can have on children, and tips for creating a smoke-free environment. The content is also available as a printable PDF. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
  • How Parents Can Prevent Exposure to Thirdhand Smoke Provides information on what thirdhand smoke is, facts about it, and how to protect against it as both web-based content as well as a printable PDF. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Smokefree.gov
    Provides resources such as tools and tips, information, and articles for those who want to quit, who recently quit, and who want to remain smoke-free. This site is also available in Spanish and provides a section dedicated to women and pregnant women. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
  • Medicine and Pregnancy
    Provides a number of tips under four topic areas, Ask Questions, Read the Label, Be Smart Online, and Report Problems, that pregnant women can use to talk to their health care provider about how prescription and over-the-counter medicines might affect them and their baby. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FDA
  • Use of Codeine and Tramadol in Breastfeeding Women
    Q&As on medication containing codeine and tramadol, FDA's strengthened warning regarding use by breastfeeding women, advice for breastfeeding women, and other important information. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FDA
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Page Last Updated: July 9, 2024

© 2024 California Department of Public Health, Women, Infants and Children Program

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