alcohol and pregnancy

Alcohol and Pregnancy

When you’re carrying a baby, your first priority is keeping your little one safe. This may mean adjustments to your lifestyle, but these adjustments will vary depending on the person. Changing your drinking habits is one of those adjustments. The internet provides all sorts of mixed advice about whether it’s safe to consume alcohol while pregnant. Some physicians recommend complete abstinence while others say an occasional small glass is unlikely to do any damage.

Lots of your friends and family members probably have an opinion on this as well. For decades, mommies-to-be have sworn off alcohol entirely; decades before that, expectant mothers swore by a glass of wine at night to help with discomfort. Research from the Center of Disease Control says 10 percent of women use alcohol while pregnant. They also found the highest rates of alcohol use during pregnancy occurred in unmarried women aged 35 to 44.

Is Alcohol Harmful While Pregnant?

The short answer is yes. It’s true that not all drinking will result in harm to a fetus, but it is never completely safe. There is no time during pregnancy where alcohol will not place your baby at risk.

The Real Risks

Alcohol is dangerous to unborn children because it can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), which can be mild to severe. These problems are all 100 percent preventable by simply abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy. FASDs include:

  • Facial abnormalities
  • Small head size
  • Short height
  • Poor coordination
  • Low weight
  • Hyperactivity
  • Short attention span
  • Poor memory
  • Learning disabilities, especially with math
  • Delays in speech or language development
  • Vision problems
  • Low IQ
  • Poor judgment and reasoning skills
  • Heart problems
  • Sleep problems

The first three months of pregnancy are when your baby is the most vulnerable, but alcohol can seriously damage developing brains at any time. Drinking early in your pregnancy is more likely to lead to abnormal facial structure and other physical changes as well. Each time you consume alcohol, it raises the chance your son or daughter will have to deal with one or more of these issues.

Preventative Care During Pregnancy

Expectant mothers will do whatever they can to protect their babies, and most simply decide not to drink. If you find ceasing alcohol is too challenging, discuss the issue with your OB-GYN. They may be able to offer some help with this issue.

Many women find it easier to avoid alcohol by drinking sparkling juice or alcohol-free beer. Abstaining from drinking is a small sacrifice to ensure your baby is healthy and happy.

For additional information, talk with your physician at Women’s Medical Associates of Nashville.