You don't need to be an expert to know that alcohol in pregnancy is completely forbidden.
Drinking while pregnant can have nasty consequences for your baby, and you need to worry about those. You aren't officially a mother until you give birth to your baby, but the responsibilities have to be taken before, which is while you need to say goodbye to alcohol in pregnancy.
But behind any prohibition, there has to be a reason. You know that drinking alcohol while pregnant is harmful, but do you know why? Don't worry if 'no' is your answer to that question, because you are going to learn it in this very same article.
Alcohol in pregnancy: The importance of staying healthy
When you are pregnant, you aren't just taking care of yourself. You are creating a home in your womb for your baby, who is developing and getting all the nutrients for you. This is why you need to provide him with the vitamins and minerals he needs to grow up healthy and strong. At the same time, you need to avoid all substances that can be harmful for him or her.
The healthier your lifestyle, the greater the chances you're giving your baby to develop healthily. This doesn't mean you need to obsess about staying healthy, but you do need to make sure to cover all the basics, which means eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats, doing moderate exercise and yes - putting alcohol and tobacco aside.
The effects of drinking while pregnant
And why is alcohol in pregnancy harmful for the baby? Well there are some effects of drinking while pregnant that you need to consider. The alcohol you drink arrives to the baby through the placenta after it has passed through your blood - as anything else you consume. As you probably know, the organ responsible of processing alcohol is your liver. But your little one will have to wait a while before developing his, since it is one of the last organs to mature. This means that the foetus isn't able to process alcohol, which is why it can be so harmful for him.
The consequences of drinking alcohol in pregnancy can vary depending on the stage of the pregnancy. If you drink during the first three months of pregnancy, the chances of the baby being born premature and with a low birthweight increases, and if you do it in the second trimester on, besides this, it can also affect the baby later in his life - for instance, the risk of him suffering from learning difficulties and problems of behaviour grow.
Of course, the more you drink, the greater are the risks. Drinking a lot of alcohol could result in a condition called foetal alcohol syndrome or FAS, which can come with different levels of importance depending on the amount of alcohol the future mother drink. All in all, children with FAS suffer from:
- Growth problems
- Facial abnormalities
- Learning disabilities
- Problems of behaviour
Besides all this, drinking during pregnancy also increases the risk of miscarriage.
Drinking alcohol in pregnancy: How much is too much?
Being pregnant comes with a ton of pressure and responsibilities. You need to watch what you eat, you need to stay active, and you need to add lots of restrictions to your daily life. That may result in you feeling that your freedom has been cut off, which isn't a nice feeling at all!
Well, you are still a free woman, and you have to decide for yourself what's the best option - no one should judge you over your decisions, and there has been somewhat of a 'witch hunt' in terms of pregnant women and alcohol. But freedom isn't free of responsibilities, which is why you should be informed on what are the effects of alcohol during pregnancy. If you are reading these lines, you already educated yourself on the consequences alcohol consumption can have on your baby. But does that mean that alcohol is strictly forbidden? Can't you even toast for the New Year, or celebrate your birthday with a sip of champagne? How much is too much?
Doctors don't know exactly which amount of alcohol is safe, if there is one safe amount. In recent years, some studies have stated that a moderate consumption of alcohol doesn't necessarily harm the baby, but... What is a moderate consumption?
Chances are, drinking a glass of wine in a special occasion won't have any damaging effects to your baby, but all public health institutions strongly recommend pregnant women (and even women who are trying to get pregnant) to quit alcohol altogether. The lack of specific knowledge of the matter is the problem. According to David Garry, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynaecology, there is not enough knowledge about the potential effects of drinking alcohol at particular times during pregnancy, so experts can't state if there is a time when it is really safe. Same happens with the amount of alcohol.
What's important here is that you are aware of what you're doing. If you indulge with a glass of wine during a celebration because you decide to do so, well - that can be considered a good decision or a bad one, but it's a decision. But what if you're not deciding? If you have the habit of drinking and are having trouble quitting, that is indeed a problem you need to work on. Talk to your doctor or midwife about it. They won't judge you, but help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
Avoiding alcohol during pregnancy at all costs can appear as something difficult to do. Try to find a non-alcoholic drink of choice or adopt a relaxing ritual that can substitute that well-deserved fresh beer after work, like a warm bath.
Drinking alcohol in pregnancy: What if I drank without knowing?
Don't panic. Yes, alcohol in pregnancy can be harmful for the baby, and all the medical community agrees that pregnant women shouldn't drink it. But the problems related to alcohol that the baby can have don't need to get out of hand because you had a few drinks before knowing you were pregnant, and your baby will most probably be in perfect health. In fact, this isn't an uncommon problem, since many women get pregnant without trying to - and why would you cut off alcohol completely if you're not expecting to get pregnant?
Once you find out you're expecting, the safest thing you can do is stop drinking, and talk to your doctor to get some peace of mind - which you will surely get. And if you're trying to conceive, the best you can do is quit drinking at once, so you avoid unnecessary worrying.
Now that you know all the harm that alcohol in pregnancy can do, you will hopefully make the right decision. The baby's wellbeing and yours should be your top priorities.