Alcohol can have a negative effect on your fetus. Period. We know the debate about drinking during pregnancy is all over the map; from doctors who say a glass of wine or beer once in a while won’t hurt anyone, to those who say you should never drink alcohol when you are pregnant. We lean towards the latter side of the spectrum and here’s why: at the end of the day, you want to do all that you possibly can togive your baby the very greatest and best chance to enter this world as happy and healthy as possible. With the wide range of negative health effects, as well as physical defects, associated with pregnancy and drinking, there is no reason to risk it.
We should note: The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry wholeheartedly advise that pregnant women should not drink alcohol in any form.
1. Slow infant development. Babies are human sponges. They are absorbing an incredibly comprehensive amount of information in a rapid amount of time. Just think – most of us go from completely helpless newborns to being able to talk, walk, run, and understand jokes in just two- years. Exposure to alcohol in the womb, even in relatively small doses, has been linked to infant developmental delays.
2. Difficulties breastfeeding. Breast milk is the very best source of hydration and nutrition for newborns and infants. It provides their gut with the healthy flora and fauna required to facilitate digestion, adds just the right balance of fats, liquids, proteins, and vitamins, and also feeds the baby’s immune system with perfectly engineered antibodies. Unfortunately, babies born to mothers who drank while pregnant have a harder time learning to breastfeed and can lack healthy sucking function.
3. Problems in school. Another side effect of pre-natal alcohol exposure is learning disabilities. Some of the learning and developmental difficulties that have been linked to alcohol include slower learning capacity, difficulty reading, lower tolerance for anger and frustration, and trouble maintaining adequate social boundaries.
4. Late-teen angst. Teenagers who were exposed to alcohol in-utero appear to be more prone to depression, anxiety, continued troubles in the classroom due to learning difficulties, and are more prone to participating in inappropriate sexual behavior.
5. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. In worst-case scenarios, mothers who consume too much alcohol while pregnant can risk causing their child having Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). In addition to the emotional and learning difficulties we described above, children with FASD often have characteristic facial features, such as a smaller head and a smooth ridge between the nose and upper-lip. They often have low birth weights and suffer more severely from learning disabilities, hyperactivity, poor reasoning and judgment skills, as well as lower intellectual ability.
How Much is Too Much Alcohol When You’re Pregnant?
This question, then, becomes the dilemma. And, the answer is there is no magic threshold between how much alcohol is safe and how much is relegated across the “unsafe” line. Every woman’s body and every woman’s fetus are different. What we do know is that whatever the mother drinks, the baby drinks too because alcohol is able to cross through the placenta. The only way to keep your baby completely safe from alcohol-related side effects is to forgo alcoholic beverages for the nine short months you are pregnant.
Why risk any of these potential outcomes for your child? It’s just not worth it. For more information regarding alcohol and its effects on prenatal development, or for compassionate assistance learning to control an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, contact Overlake OBGYN.