Table of Contents Hide
- Alcohol and Pregnancy: What Should You Drink? And Can You Actually Drink?
- Alcohol and Pregnancy: What About “Safe Limits” for Drinking During Pregnancy?
- Alcohol and Pregnancy: How Can Alcohol Harm a Fetus?
- Alcohol and Pregnancy: Effects of Alcohol on the Fetus
- Alcohol and Pregnancy: How to Solve the Issue Of Excessive Drinking?
- Alcohol and Pregnancy: Wrapping up!
Pregnancy is a special time for women, and it is important to pay attention to what you are eating and drinking as your body develops and changes. Alcohol and pregnancy can increase your risk of complications during pregnancy, especially if you drink during the first trimester early in pregnancy. The same is true for women who have been drinking during their first trimester, especially if they have recently given birth. Alcohol is a known risk factor for birth defects, as well as miscarriage. Let’s dive deep into this theme of alcohol and pregnancy so that you get an idea of why it is better not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.
Alcohol and Pregnancy: What Should You Drink? And Can You Actually Drink?
Is drinking wine during pregnancy bad for your baby? Should you avoid alcohol? This is a common concern among pregnant women, and it’s a topic that many scientists study. Unfortunately, the answer to the question depends on who you ask. There is no one right answer to the question of whether alcohol is good or bad for your baby. However, researchers have a consensus that moderate drinking during pregnancy is safe and unlikely to cause any problems. Eating well and exercising regularly is the healthiest thing you can do for your baby during pregnancy. If you want to know more about the effects of alcohol on pregnancy and your baby, this page is a great place to start.
Alcohol and Pregnancy: What About “Safe Limits” for Drinking During Pregnancy?
As of 2016, the federal government has not set specific limits on how much alcohol a pregnant woman may drink during pregnancy. However, the federal government has set a goal to reduce pregnant women’s average weekly alcohol intake to less than 1 drink per week and have that rate be around 5% for the entire pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that if a pregnant woman can reduce her alcohol exposure to less than two drinks per week, she should be doing so. According to the ACOG, heavy drinking is “any amount of alcohol that would contribute to impairment in a person with a normal drinking pattern.” If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, this does not mean that you should never have a drink. If you are considering becoming pregnant, have had a baby, or are currently trying to conceive, you should talk with your healthcare provider about moderate drinking that is safe for you.
Alcohol and Pregnancy: How Can Alcohol Harm a Fetus?
Alcohol can enter the body in two ways: by ingestion and through breast milk. When alcohol passes through the stomach, it is broken down into small molecules called acetates and can cause fetal alcohol syndrome fas. These acetates may be absorbed into the blood through the walls of the stomach. Acetates are then removed by the liver, where they are converted into an active form of alcohol called acetaldehyde.
The acetaldehyde that is removed from the liver can circulate throughout the body and be reabsorbed by other organs. The acetaldehyde in the bloodstream may then be converted back into active alcohol by a second organ called the liver. If the acetaldehyde passes through the stomach, it can circulate throughout the body and be absorbed into breast milk. The baby can reabsorb the acetaldehyde in the blood through the placenta. The active alcohol that is passed through the placenta may also be reabsorbed by the baby.
Alcohol is absorbed through the placenta in relatively small amounts. One study found that only 20 percent of a pregnant woman’s blood alcohol concentration was passed to her baby. However, even small amounts of alcohol can be harmful to a developing baby.
Alcohol and Pregnancy: Effects of Alcohol on the Fetus
Alcohol has been associated with a number of health problems in infants and children, including alcohol syndrome and multiple aging facial features. Some of the main concerns associated with alcohol use during pregnancy are as follows.
Premature birth is characterized by a baby being born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. Premature birth is the leading cause of death in newborn infants and has been associated with alcohol consumption by the mother. It was estimated that approximately 10 percent of births are premature. Approximately 80 percent of all premature births are due to fetal alcohol exposure.
Stillbirth is the birth of a baby who has not survived for at least 24 weeks after conception. In approximately 8 percent of cases, the death of a baby in utero has been attributed to maternal alcohol consumption.
Abnormalities in Development
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects, including microcephaly and mental retardation. The baby’s brain is a critical organ during fetal development, and an early insult to the developing brain can result in serious physical and mental health problems in the baby.
Birth defects are defined as abnormalities that occur before birth. They can be physical, structural, or functional. Several birth defects have been associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, including the following:
- A cleft palate (palate that does not join properly) – Prenatal alcohol exposure has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and birth defects. Studies have also shown that babies with a cleft palate, who do not receive treatment to correct the condition, will have ongoing problems with their speech;
- Congenital malformations – The presence of more than one congenital malformation (a physical birth defect that has been present since birth) is called a congenital anomaly. Congenital anomalies can range in severity – from mild physical problems to severe anomalies that can cause death.
Congenital anomalies, including those that can be caused by alcohol, can be diagnosed during the first few days of life. In about 90 percent of cases, prenatal screening tests can determine the baby has congenital malformations risk. Such tests are available for several congenital anomalies, including neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida and anencephaly (the absence of a brain), as well as several other heart defects. In such cases, a prenatal screen may reveal that the baby has an NTD, which may prompt the parents to request genetic counseling and/or genetic testing.
Spina bifida is a type of neural tube defect that occurs when the spinal cord does not fully close at the time of birth. If untreated, spina bifida can lead to permanent paralysis of the legs and death due to respiratory problems.
Anencephaly is an absence of a brain and other vital brain structures. It occurs when the skull bone does not close properly before birth. In severe cases, anencephaly causes the baby to die in utero. However, even if anencephaly is mild and the baby lives, the baby will have life-long physical and mental challenges.
A congenital heart defect (CHD) is an abnormality of the heart that is present at birth. The most common type of CHD is a heart septal defect. A septal heart defect is an opening in the wall that separates the chambers of the heart. Another common type of heart defect is a valve defect, which prevents the flow of blood from one side of the heart to the other.
An alcohol-related heart defect can lead to heart failure or death in a baby. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can increase the risk of congenital heart defects. Certain heart defects, including atrial septal defects (ASDs) and ventricular septal defects (VSDs), can cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing or palpitations. These conditions are called CHDs with cardiac defects.
Other Heart Defects
A number of other heart defects have been linked to alcohol consumption during pregnancy, including hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), transposition of the great arteries (TGA), endocardial cushion defect (ECC), coarctation of the aorta, aortic stenosis, and Ebstein anomaly.
Alcohol and Pregnancy: How to Solve the Issue Of Excessive Drinking?
There are many support groups that are aimed at helping women solve their problems. You can always sign up for drink talk sessions and share your issues, who will understand you well. Thanks to such therapy, you will find people in alcoholics anonymous faced with the very same problem and ready to advise you on binge drinking. Of course, signing up for such sessions is better before you get pregnant.
Alcohol and Pregnancy: Wrapping up!
Alcohol can negatively affect your baby’s growth and development in the womb. Women who drink heavily, binge, or drink daily during pregnancy are at a much higher risk for miscarriage and premature delivery than women who drink sparingly. The risk of complications also rises with the number of drinks consumed daily. When taken in small amounts, alcohol is safe and is necessary for maintaining good health. However, in large amounts, even over time, alcohol can negatively affect your health and your baby’s health and development, cause birth defects, and increase the risk of miscarriage. Pregnant women should consume no more than a glass of wine per day for the sake of their own safety and the safety of their babies. If you already drink, it is wise to cut back, stop drinking alcohol, and keep your alcohol intake low. Hopefully, our guide on alcohol and pregnancy helps you and you will follow the tips.