Expecting a baby is both wonderful, and a responsibility. Therefore, during this time your health is of the utmost importance, and you should be aware of all the risks of alcohol consumption. Consuming alcohol regularly is undoubtedly harming your baby. Doctors recommend completely abstaining from liquor during pregnancy, but some believe that a glass of wine will not cause any harm to the foetus. Opinions differ. However, the most important thing is knowing what to do if you do not want to harm your baby.
When you, while expecting a baby, drink, it no longer concerns only you and your health. It must be acknowledged that it hasn’t been scientifically discovered yet exactly what effects a small amounts of alcohol have on the foetus. However, one thing is clear: alcohol from your bloodstream also enters the baby’s blood through the placenta. You would never drink alcohol together with a baby, would you? Well, the expectant baby is even younger…
Studies show that women drink more and more nowadays. This increases the likelihood that it will be difficult to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.
- Mental Development Disorders
In rare cases, alcohol consumption, even in small quantities, impacts the foetus. A study conducted in the United States shows that, typically, a bottle of light beer or a glass of cider once a week does not cause damage to the foetus; however, about one in one thousand newborns whose mother has consumed alcohol every week during pregnancy experiences mental development issues, which manifest in anxiety, hyperactivity, and difficulty to concentrate during preschool years.
- Defects and Abnormalities
If, while expecting a baby, alcohol consumption is systematic, the consequences can be dramatic: mental retardation (brain damage), heart defects, growth difficulties, or hand, feet, and face deformities.
- Foetal Development Disorders
The use of alcohol during pregnancy can interfere with the normal development of the foetus and the baby. The most important organs develop during the first 10-12 weeks of pregnancy. You cannot know which organ is forming at any exact moment and may be suffering from the alcohol consumed.
- Small Birth Weight
As a result of alcohol consumption, children can be born with a small weight of 2.5 kg or less.
What to Do?
- If you decide to drink, make sure you do it safely. Never use more than one unit of alcohol! It should be remembered that hard liquor (all distilled spirits such as vodka, rum, gin, etc.) are more toxic and therefore more harmful.
- Treat your taste buds differently. Experiment with non-alcoholic cocktails. Make freshly squeezed fruit juices or add syrups to water.
- Resist peer pressure. Especially if you’ve gone somewhere with friends or colleagues who are not yet aware of your pregnancy. Say you must drive later, that you are taking medication, or simply order yourself a non-alcoholic cocktail. In such a way, no one will have questions.
- If you are trying to conceive, try to gradually reduce your units consumed. Start by drinking less every day until you have abstained from drinking alcohol several days a week.
- When trying to conceive, convince your partner that he should also cut back on drinking. After all, you are planning a joint offspring and alcohol also impacts the quality of the male sperm and potency.
- Change your daily habits. If you usually drink alcohol, for example, when watching TV, try some evening without it – read a book instead, listen to music, organise photos. In such a way you will break the habit of drinking in a particular situation.
- Do not panic if you have had more than the recommended amount of alcohol at a time when you did not know that you were pregnant. During the first or second week of pregnancy, the risk of damage to the embryo (the embryo becomes a foetus in the eighth week of pregnancy) due to excessive alcohol consumption is minor. However, it is worth telling your family doctor or midwife about your concerns.