Drinking and Pregnancy
As you imagine your growing baby, dream about what she’ll look like, what her voice will sound like and what she’ll make of her life, you hope and pray that no harm will ever come to her.
You put a pool cover on your swimming pool, secure all cupboards, lock away all poisons and ban all smokers from your home.
Should you lock away your alcohol? Should you politely turn down that glass of wine on a Friday night and instead opt for a glass of soda?
Some say having a glass of wine, once a week will not harm your baby. But it’s a contentious issue as there is so much conflicting information about the effects of alcohol on the unborn baby.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says based on evidence, the only way to be absolutely sure that your baby isn’t harmed by alcohol, is not to drink during your pregnancy at all.
After all, every mojito or glass of wine that you drink, your unborn baby drinks.
What are the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy?
Drinking alcohol can lead to a whole range of problems. It can:
- Increase your chances of miscarriage
- Damage your baby’s cells, resulting in a low birth weight
- Damage your baby’s brain cells
- Children, whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy, are more susceptible to childhood illnesses
- They’re more likely to develop learning difficulties
Heavy drinking can also lead to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is caused by heavy drinking during pregnancy. The unborn baby’s development is considerably stunted and often retarded because of the high levels of alcohol.
Heavy drinking can cause:
- Mental retardation
- Heart defects
- A small head
- Distinctive facial features, including smaller eyes and low-set ears
- Eye problems
- Organ deformities
- Central nervous system problems
In fact, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is widely believed to be the biggest cause of mental handicap. It is also more likely to lead to other life-long illnesses and disabilities.
How does alcohol affect the pregnant mom?
You’re likely to experience the normal side-effects of drinking more intensely when you’re pregnant, as your body works over-time to deliver nutrients to your growing baby.
You’ll experience nausea, headaches, dehydration and vitamin depletion.
If you drink excessively, you’re also likely to damage your organs, which will ultimately affect your baby.
Alcohol is also widely known to increase your susceptibility to developing depression.
So what should you do?
If absolutely need to have a social drink once a week or once a month, ask your doctor or healthcare provider for advice on the safest way to drink.
If you’re absolutely committed to an alcohol-free pregnancy, then set your mind to it, tell your friends and family and opt for drinks like non-alcoholic cocktails, sparkling grape juice and sodas when you socialise.
If you have a drinking problem, or drink more than 5 units of alcohol a week, speak to your doctor about the safest way of quitting. Don’t quit cold-turkey or do it alone, as you could damage your health and that of your baby.
An alcohol-free mom, leads to an alcohol-free baby