Alcohol and Pregnancy
The facts about drinking during pregnancy
With pregnancy comes sacrifice, and that means some lifestyle changes may be in order. Whether you enjoy a cocktail in social situations or tend to unwind with a drink at the end of each day, it's important that you change your habits for the months ahead. But while most people agree that pregnancy and alcohol don't mix, there is some variance in opinion when it comes to the specific amount that can lead to problems.
So, what about drinking wine in the first month of pregnancy? How about a cocktail to move labor along? Is alcohol ever alright when you're expecting? In light of ongoing research into the effects of any amount of alcohol during pregnancy, it's more important than ever to learn what has been proven and how to avoid the devastating consequences that any drug can bring.
Alcohol and Pregnancy Complications
While alcohol has been shown to produce a variety of fetal development issues, fetal alcohol syndrome (or FAS) is probably the most infamous. Technically a subcategory of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, FAS most often results from excessive binge drinking (more than five drinks at one time) or regular heavy drinking (seven or more drinks in one week). Although the degree of health issues may vary, children with FAS typically deal with abnormal facial features, central nervous system disorders, mental retardation and severe behavioral problems that will last a lifetime.
The risk of FAS increases with the amount and frequency of drinking during pregnancy, but there is evidence to suggest that as little as one drink a day could negatively affect growth and development. Like other teratogens, alcohol can cause problems at any stage of pregnancy; how deeply it affects your baby will depend on a variety of factors, including genetics and chance.
Is Any Amount of Alcohol during Pregnancy Acceptable?
Since alcohol easily passes through the placenta to your baby, any amount of alcohol will enter their little body. A fetus simply cannot metabolize substances as efficiently as an adult body, so the alcohol will stay in the baby's blood much longer than it stays in the mother's blood. This lengthy exposure to alcohol increases the chances of serious developmental damage.
If you're panicking about those few drinks you had before the test came back positive, you're not alone. Many women have felt the same guilt, fear and worry, and the vast majority went on to have wonderful pregnancies and perfectly healthy babies. On the other hand, the first weeks of pregnancy feature rapid physical and mental development, the formation of the placenta and the formation of the central nervous system. Don't dwell on your past behavior, but the sooner you give up alcohol entirely, the better chance your baby has of developing on the right track.