If you are pregnant and ask your doctor if you can sip on just a little alcohol during your pregnancy, be prepared for him to refuse. Not only is this the safe answer to give you but it’s also because no one knows how much alcohol is safe to drink for a pregnant woman. Besides, when you drink alcohol, so does your baby.
Experts agree on one fact: that drinking even the minimum liquor could cause long-term risks to the growing fetus, which only grows the more you drink. Doctors advise pregnant women not to drink at all during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, as this could lead to a miscarriage and premature births.
Therefore, it is safest to do away with alcohol during your pregnancy completely. However, if you simply must, restrict it to one unit once a week and certainly do not get drunk. If you do, this could seriously harm your baby.
The science behind drinking during pregnancy:
When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it goes directly into her bloodstream. From there, it enters the baby’s placenta. Since babies break down alcohol at a far slower pace than you do, he or she could have a very high blood alcohol level.
Effects of alcohol on your developing baby: Drinking harms your baby in several ways:
- It increases the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even one drink per day can raise the chances of miscarriage or have a low birth weight baby. It can also increase your chances of giving birth to a baby with problems of learning, speech, attention span and hyperactivity.
- Drinking through your pregnancy can make your baby a perfect candidate for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), depending on your extent of alcohol drinking.
If your baby does grow up with FASD, he could have problems learning, understanding and focusing. It could even raise your risk of having a stillborn baby.
Effects of FASDs:
Babies or children with FASDs exhibit these characteristics:
- Defective facial features, like a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose, or philtrum
- Small-sized head
- Below average height
- Below normal body weight
- Poor motor coordination
- Problems relating to the heart, bones, and kidneys
- Problems with sleep and sucking in infancy
- Problems related to vision or hearing
- Hyperactive behaviour
- Difficulty with concentration
- Inability to grasp maths
- Poor memory
- Learning problems
- Delay in speaking and acquiring language skills
- Low IQ and intelligence
- Poor judgment and analytical skills
Effects of FAS:
If you drink heavily during your entire pregnancy, your baby can develop a serious condition, called Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Babies or children diagnosed with FAS exhibit these symptoms:
- Stunted growth
- Facial defects
- Behavioural and learning difficulties
By drinking less heavily or drinking heavily on just one occasion, you stand to get a lesser form of this condition, thereby lowering your risk for it.
If you have an alcohol problem and are pregnant, speak to your doctor or go in for counselling before it’s too late.