There’s a good reason why experts advice expectant mothers to abstain from alcohol, including wine. Alcohol use by pregnant women is one of the leading causes of poor birth outcomes. When it comes to pregnancy, there’s no safe amount of alcohol — drinking moderately will still harm the baby.
Read on to understand the dangers of this substance on the mothers, and their babies respectively.
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Taking Alcohol During Pregnancy: What Are the Risks Involved?
When you are with a child, everything you drink, including alcohol, goes to the foetus’s bloodstream through the placenta. An unborn baby’s alcohol metabolism is quite slow. Unlike adults, it takes longer for a foetus’s system to break down this substance. Sometimes, the spirit stays so long in the blood, that it affects their development.
When you consume alcoholic drinks when pregnant, the alcohol concentration in the baby’s blood will be the same as that in your body. Thus, your unborn baby will be exposed to the harmful effects of this substance much longer because of their limited metabolic capacity.
It’s also important to keep in mind that drinking alcohol at any stage of your pregnancy is dangerous for you and the baby. Alcohol use is often common during the first few weeks after testing pregnant. Many assume that the baby is too underdeveloped to be affected by this psychoactive drug during this period. Others often are not even aware of the pregnancy.
Studies, however, show that a foetus’s brain, facial features, blood vessels, and parts such as the heart and bones are often in the critical stages of development during the early weeks of pregnancy. Taking alcohol during the first trimester will adversely affect the formation of these parts of the baby’s body.
Consumption may result in your child being born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and increases your chances of stillbirths, miscarriages, and premature births.
Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder refers to a range of physical defects, brain development and central nervous system problems, and behavioural disabilities arising from exposure of an unborn baby to alcohol.
Not all foetuses exposed to alcohol will develop FASD. The risk of having this condition is greatest if the expectant mother is a heavy drinker. However, even the ‘occasional drink’ may affect the baby, as it is very difficult to track the metabolism of the substance during these early stages of the brain and body.
In most cases, diagnosis of FASD is made after a health specialist has assessed any present physical abnormalities of the new-born and analysed the mother’s history during pregnancy. The diagnosis can also be made later in the child’s life when the behavioural and intellectual disabilities become more pronounced.
The physical complications associated with FASD include:
- Deformities in a baby’s fingers, joints, and limbs
- Abnormal facial features — For instance, a small-sized head, small eyes, an abnormally thin upper lip, or a smooth ridge between the baby’s upper lip and its nose.
- Heart, kidney, and bones problems
- Hearing or vision difficulties
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms during birth, for example, shakiness and a high-pitched cry
- Sucking difficulties during infancy
- Slow physical growth progress before and after birth
The central nervous system problems and brain development issues linked to FASD include:
- Lack of coordination and balance
- Delays in speech and language
- Trouble processing information or staying attentive
- Intellectual disabilities – poor memory and learning outcomes
- Hyperactivity and jitteriness
- Difficulties reasoning or solving problems
- A child born with FASD will also exhibit the following behavioural disabilities as they transition into childhood:
- Poor social skills (and difficulties getting along with others)
- Trouble controlling emotions and behaviours
- Challenges with daily living
There is no cure for foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. FASD is fully preventable as it only requires soon-to-be mothers to embrace alcohol abstinence at every stage of their pregnancy. The effects of this disorder, including the physical ones, may last a lifetime. By neglecting the doctors’ advice, you risk sentencing your child to a life of specialised care which they may need in order to navigate the behavioural and intellectual disabilities as they grow.
Stillbirths, Miscarriages, and Premature Births
Alcohol is a toxin that prevents the embryo from developing as normal as it should. Taking this substance when pregnant raises your risks of a miscarriage, that is, losing your baby within the first 12 or 24 weeks of pregnancy.
An expectant mother’s lifestyle is a common cause of stillbirths. When alcohol is part of your lifestyle during pregnancy, your baby is endangered. Your risk of giving birth to a premature baby is higher if you use alcohol when expectant, as its nervous system depressive characteristics change the way you read your body’s symptoms. Alcohol’s direct toxicity to the unborn child triggers complications that lead to preterm birth.
A prematurely delivered new-born may weight much less than what is considered healthy by the pre-natal doctors and GPs since this substance interferes with the delivery of nutrition to the foetus in the womb.
Detoxing from Alcohol at Home with Professional Help
When you’re pregnant or trying to get a baby, the safest choice is to steer clear of alcoholic beverages. You’ll increase your chances of delivering a healthy, happy child that will make you and your family smile while growing up.
However, if you’ve indulged before conception or even after learning that you’re pregnant, you can detox from alcohol at home safely to flush the drug’s toxins from your body, ultimately reducing your possibilities of a high-risk pregnancy and lifelong damages to your child.
You should contact your pre-natal doctor or your GP before taking any kind of medication, though. Also, outpatient services will need to know all about your pregnancy, so they can safely recommend a solution.