This Is How Alcohol Affects The Baby Growing In Your Womb
Alcohol can cause serious health problems for your baby, including premature birth and miscarriage.
If you're pregnant and wondering if to indulge in the occasional small glass of wine, the advice you receive may be confusing. Some doctors recommend that you completely avoid alcohol when you’re expecting. Others say that occasional light drinking is unlikely to harm your baby. Chances are your friends are divided on this, too. One might confide that she enjoyed the occasional beer during her pregnancy and feels her child turned out fine. But another friend sees this as taking an unnecessary risk. So what exactly are the health effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy?
Whatever the risks, many moms-to-be are choosing not to totally give up alcohol. Here’s what experts say pregnant women should keep in mind when deciding whether to drink lightly or to steer clear of alcohol altogether.
When you are pregnant, the safest option is to not drink alcohol at all. Drinking alcohol during your pregnancy puts your baby at risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is the leading known cause of developmental disabilities in children.
If a pregnant woman drinks a glass of wine, it passes through to the fetus just like food. Some people mistakenly believe that it’s okay to drink late in pregnancy. When the unborn baby is nearly completely formed. But the baby’s brain and other body systems are still too immature to be exposed to alcohol in any amount.
You'll place your unborn child at risk of several issues if you drink while pregnant. These problems can include:
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Miscarriage (fetus dies before the 20th week of pregnancy)
- Birth defects (hearing issues or heart defects)
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- Stillbirth (fetus dies after 20 weeks of pregnancy)
In cases of fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, your baby may have several distinctive features of the disorder. Physical features include:
- Small head
- Being shorter than peers
- Low weight
- Smooth ridge between nose and upper lip
Cognitive issues can include poor memory, attention difficulties, problems with math skills, learning disabilities, speech and language delays, low IQ, and poor judgment skills. The child experiences hyperactivity and behavioral issues. In addition, they may have heart, skeletal, kidney, vision, or hearing problems, according to experts. Your child can also suffer from mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression. They may develop problems controlling impulses and conduct, and acting out at home and in school.
Alcohol moves through the placenta via the umbilical cord. During pregnancy, the placenta is the only source of nutrition for the unborn child. This makes it easy for alcohol to reach the baby, according to experts. There, it enters the baby’s developing body, affecting every organ and body system.
It isn’t only the pregnant woman who is responsible for ensuring she doesn’t drink. Your partner or spouse should also ensure that he completely abstains from any alcohol throughout your pregnancy. He may want to consider abstaining as well. Doing so may make it easier for you to successfully abstain.
The partner’s consumption of alcohol may have an effect on the child’s development, especially if that person drinks heavily.
Now that you understand the effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, hopefully, you'll do well to abstain and keep your baby safe.