Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may seem like no big deal, but the CDC states that no amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe. In fact, they also recommend against drinking any alcohol when trying to get pregnant.
Think of it this way: would you let your baby drink alcohol? Rum? Vodka? Tequila?
If you answered “no,” then you can’t drink either. When you drink alcohol, your baby is effectively doing the same exact thing. Remember, everything you ingest will be transferred to the baby, too, including alcohol.
Table of Contents
- 1. How Early on Should a Woman Stop Drinking?
- 2. Why is Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy Dangerous?
- 3. Does Every Baby Have Complications When Mom Drinks Alcohol?
- 4. Doesn’t a Woman’s Body Produce an Enzyme to Breakdown Alcohol?
- 5. Can Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant Lead to a Miscarriage?
- 6. I Still Have My Doubts, What Should I Do?
- 7. I Can’t Stop Drinking. What Should I Do?
1. How Early on Should a Woman Stop Drinking?
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders can occur as early as conception, so it’s ideal to stop drinking any form of alcohol even when trying to get pregnant. If you don’t take contraceptives and may be at risk of conceiving, the CDC even recommends not drinking at this time, too.
Half of pregnancies are unplanned, so if you are sexually active, you may get pregnant and cause damage to your baby.
2. Why is Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy Dangerous?
You can cause lasting harm to your child if you choose to drink alcohol while the baby is in the womb. The issue is that there are no benefits to drinking alcohol for the baby, and there are only harsh side effects and risks.
The risks that your baby will suffer – not you – from your night of drinking are:
- Shorter height
- Lower weight
- Small head
- Abnormal features
- Poor memory
- Speech delays
- Poor judgement skills
- Heart, kidney and bone problems
- Hearing and vision problems
- Low IQ
- Learning disabilities
And these are just some of the risks that your baby will suffer from due to your poor judgement. I’m not trying to be harsh, but if you think that shot of Absinthe or that drink of champagne are perfectly fine when you’re pregnant, you’re absolutely wrong.
I am recovering alcoholic, and in addition to the changes I experienced when I was drinking, I met women through Alcoholics Anonymous who were struggling with this greatest of all conundrums. Alcoholics and drug addicts make excuses all the time to justify their habit.
And the single most unanswerable factor, the one that really must distress a woman the most, is the choice between drinking and doing what’s right for their fetus. Now, you are very probably not an alcoholic, but bear with me and let’s get some help for the minority who are. And help is what alcoholics need. All the lectures in the world, all the threats, all the reasonings, they count for nothing unless the alcoholic gets help with the disease.
So now, back to the rest of you. Drinking is part of their social life for the vast majority of women, and for a moderate drinker, it is tempting to just take it extra easy. But I’m afraid that is not enough. People are so individual, so different from each other, that it is impossible to give guidelines that make it safe to drink when you’re pregnant.
Here are 4 Specific Reasons Why You Must Not Drink Alcohol when You’re Pregnant:
- Drinking Increases The Chance Of Premature Birth Or Miscarriage
This is particularly true in the first three months. So if you were a bit slow finding out you’re pregnant, slam the brakes on immediately. It may not be the ideal scenario, but damage limitation is a rock solid move to take. You’re going to be looking after yourself in other ways, so add this to the list. Pregnancy is hard work, so you will be needing plenty of sleep and you need to take any other measures you can to conserve your energy. The morning after the night before is a time of fatigue and lack of energy. It’s time to conserve all your resources and be fresh and clear-headed. And most of all you need to help your body go through this fundamental process of keeping a tiny scrap of life safe inside you and enabling it to grow until it’s ready to emerge.
2. Drinking Causes Accidents
Let’s say you behave yourself for a few weeks and then have a night out with the girls. And it all gets a bit out of hand. Drunk people stumble and fall. They get into fights. They drive recklessly or accept a lift with someone who is going to drive recklessly. Not to mention the fact that drinking is bad for your baby’s health as well.
Again, this isn’t the end of all fun for the rest of your life, so just keep a lid on it for the duration of your pregnancy to be on the safe side.
3. Alcohol Travels From You Into Your Baby
When you are pregnant you are the fetus’s life support system and mini-you is partaking of what you partake of. But he or she is not equipped to deal with alcohol, so it is nothing less than criminal to expose the poor little mite to the consequences of your drinking.
4. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
This is quite possibly the worst disease you’ve never heard of. FAS (sometimes called FASD – fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) is the name for a terrifying range of problems that can affect the child of a pregnant-drinking mother. There are visual defects: unusually small eyes and a generally rather strange look to the face. And there are behavioral problems: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which makes a child impatient and unable to concentrate for long, which leads to disruptive behavior and, inevitably, lack of learning. So a child quickly falls behind the other children and may possibly spend the rest of their lives struggling as a consequence.
3. Does Every Baby Have Complications When Mom Drinks Alcohol?
It depends. Some women can drink a lot, and their babies will come out just fine. Other women will have one or two drinks, and they’ll have complications. Some women will even stop drinking in the 2nd and 3rd trimester, and this is far too risky for any doctor to recommend.
You shouldn’t even be drinking in the 1st trimester.
A big issue is that the scientific data is still lacking on low alcohol consumption while pregnant. Women often have a drink of beer while pregnant, and just a sip is often all she needs to satisfy her desire. But, there are a lot of “what ifs.”
The CDC found that 1 in 8 pregnant women drank alcohol at least once in the past month.
So, there’s a lot of babies being put at risk because some pregnant woman thought just a little alcohol wouldn’t cause damage to her baby. And maybe it doesn’t, but you know what?
Scientists have found that there is no amount proven to be safe.
Researchers still don’t know enough about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) to really be able to say when it’s safe to drink alcohol. The only thing we know with 100% certainty is that a woman that drinks while she is pregnant can cause her baby to suffer from FASDs.
I know many women that have drank a glass of wine to celebrate being pregnant, and their babies didn’t have any noticeable damage.
But then again, maybe they could have been brighter children. Maybe they do have a defect? Maybe that ADHD was avoidable?
4. Doesn’t a Woman’s Body Produce an Enzyme to Breakdown Alcohol?
Yes, but the exact amount of this enzyme differs from one woman to the next. There are woman with low levels of this enzyme, and when they drink, their child is at a much higher risk of FASDs. It’s really a game of how much are you willing to risk the health and well-being of your child?
If you can live with yourself after causing your child to suffer from a lifelong disability, then maybe the risk is worth it for you.
See, there are too many unknowns and variables to take into account to determine what will happen to your baby if you drink any alcoholic beverage. A woman may drink a glass of wine, and her child may suffer for the rest of his or her life with a disability that was 100% avoidable.
Another woman may drink like a fish, and she will have a baby that’s normal.
This can be a result of the enzyme imbalance that we’re discussing with you now, or maybe it’s other factors out of a woman’s control.
The only factor you can safely control is the consumption of alcohol.
5. Can Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant Lead to a Miscarriage?
Yes. Some women will drink so much that they actually kill their baby in the process. A miscarriage will occur, and this is when the baby dies in the womb 20 weeks or less after being conceived. Stillbirth, or when the baby is born dead, can also occur.
This is a life or death matter.
In some cases, the baby will suffer from heart defects that will shorten their lives or potentially kill them, too. Brain damage is also possible where alcohol was the main contributing factor to the baby being born with a brain that’s not able to be repaired.
6. I Still Have My Doubts, What Should I Do?
I always caution being on the safe side and not touching a drop of alcohol when pregnant. Can pregnant women drink wine? Maybe, but not me. I couldn’t live with the thought that my actions may cause my child to suffer forever.
If you’ve heard alcohol consumption is not a concern (many people have been told that), you probably still have your doubts.
The only thing I can recommend at this point is to consult with your doctor.
Certain women are at a much higher risk of causing permanent damage to their child if they drink while pregnant. You may also be on medications that can conflict with alcohol causing you to suffer from lasting damage in the process.
7. I Can’t Stop Drinking. What Should I Do?
There are times when a person can’t stop drinking. Conscious thoughts of drinking flood their mind, and they may get sick when they’re not drinking. If you fall into this category, you have an addiction and need to seek out professional help.
Even addicts have the ability to change today to ensure that their child has a better tomorrow.
There are groups out there that will help, including (Alcoholics Anonymous). You need to be strong for your baby, and this means doing everything in your power to put down that drink and ensure that your baby has a good life.
A doctor will guide you to an addiction center if needed.
You can kick this habit.
Consuming any amount of alcohol is not good for a baby no matter what stage of development they may be in. It’s even recommended that you don’t consume alcohol when trying to get pregnant. Even if your friends or family were lucky to give birth to a healthy baby and drank during their pregnancy, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be this lucky.
Most professionals advise against even a sip of an alcoholic beverage when pregnant.