On Pregnancy And Alcohol

Can I drink while pregnant? Even a little bit? This is an important and often-asked question. The answer is no. And yes.

Alcohol Affects Your Baby

Every fetus comes equipped with a placenta, the fleshy interface between the mother’s uterus and the baby’s umbilical cord. Placentas keep many unwanted substances in the mother’s bloodstream from passing to the baby. The problem with alcohol is that its molecules are so small and basic that they pass through the placental barrier easily. Every drink you have, your baby has, too.

So maybe the little guy or girl should be able to party. Well, maybe not. Baby-building is an incredibly detailed and intense affair, with different things happening every minute of every day. Now it could be time to develop the baby’s brain; the next day could be time to make the palate, or tell the arms how to grow, or form a spinal cord. Even one serious dose of alcohol can disrupt a vital portion of your baby’s growth.

How Much Is Too Much?

Steady alcohol use, say one glass of wine almost every day during a pregnancy, will affect the baby. Any binge drinking – drinking to the point of drunkenness, disorientation, or incapacity – will have a nasty effect on the development of the child. Keep in mind that a growing baby is very much smaller than you, and infinitely more sensitive. Any alcohol that you feel, it feels a hundred times as much.

Some authorities state that any alcohol during pregnancy can cause harm. Others say that one half-glass of wine a couple of times during a pregnancy usually poses no problems. The pending arrival of a new life should hopefully be cause for a bit of celebrating, after all. Just monitor your intake very carefully, and choose non alcoholic drinks the rest of the time.

The Consequences

Babies born to mothers who drink during pregnancy are prone to a host of problems:

Low birth weight

Cleft palate

Malformed brain

Personality problems

Slow growth

Miscarriage

Malformed face, bones, or internal organs

Vision or hearing problems

Bad memory

Difficulty learning

Serious drinking while pregnant can give the baby Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, a collection of all the above problems and more that will impair the child’s growth, development, health and social integration for their entire life. It’s just not worth the risk.

Baby-making is a special moment in a woman’s life, when your actions can have major repercussions on your child’s health and wellbeing. For some, that loss of personal freedom is really a big obstacle, but making the transition from individual to mother is a step best taken sooner rather than later. There is lots of help available – online, in your doctor’s office, among your family and friends. Access it. Limit or eliminate alcohol while you are pregnant and breastfeeding. Your child may never know to thank you for it, but giving them a healthy, whole start will be ample reward.