You may have heard the rule “no drinking while pregnant!” and have some understanding that pregnancy and alcohol have a bad relationship but maybe you are less familiar with the reasons behind this recommendation and the risks associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant.
What are the risks associated with drinking while pregnant? Can I drink “lightly” while pregnant? What if I drank alcohol before I found out I was pregnant? These are all valid questions that many women are searching for answers to! Today, we are going to dive into some of these questions so that you are informed and able to make the best decisions throughout your pregnancy journey.
What are the risks associated with drinking while pregnant?
The main risk associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant is the risk of the fetus developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder(s), also known as, FASD(s). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), FASDs can occur when a person is exposed to alcohol before birth. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. Often, a person with an FASD has a mix of these problems.
Some of the problems or symptoms often associated with FASD are:
- Low body weight
- Poor coordination
- Hyperactive behavior
- Difficulty with attention
- Poor memory
- Difficulty in school (especially with math)
- Learning disabilities
- Speech and language delays
- Intellectual disability or low IQ
- Poor reasoning and judgment skills
- Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
- Vision or hearing problems
- Problems with the heart, kidneys, or bones
- Shorter-than-average height
- Small head size
- Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (this ridge is called the philtrum)
Can I drink “lightly” while pregnant?
While researching this topic on the internet you may find some articles claiming that there are no studies proving that an occasional glass of wine or alcoholic drink is harmful to the fetus. While this claim is true in theory, this is likely because not every single child exposed to alcohol before birth will develop FASDs. This quote from the CDC explains it best “Every pregnancy is different and every child is different, you could have one child who is born healthy and another child who is born with problems. Moreover, Alcohol use during pregnancy might affect one baby more than another.” So statistically, this claim is true. FASDs is a risk, not a guarantee. However, what researchers can agree on is that “There is no amount of alcohol that’s known to be 100% safe to consume during pregnancy.”, Mayo Clinic. So, no matter the amount or the frequency of alcohol consumption, drinking while pregnant does expose your child to the risk of developing FASDs.
The question you must ask yourself when wondering “Can I drink “lightly” while pregnant?” is: is it really worth the risk?
What if I drank alcohol before I found out I was pregnant?
At Life Choice, this is a question we get asked all the time! If you are trying to get pregnant, it’s much easier to plan ahead and avoid alcohol during that time. However, if your pregnancy is unplanned or unintended, you may have drank in the time between conception and the time when you found out you were pregnant.
Here’s what the CDC has to say about this scenario: “The most important thing is that you have completely stopped alcohol use after learning of your pregnancy. It is never too late to stop alcohol use during pregnancy. Because brain growth takes place throughout pregnancy, stopping alcohol use will improve the baby’s health and well-being. If you used any amount of alcohol while you were pregnant, talk with your child’s health care provider as soon as possible and share your concerns. Make sure you get regular prenatal checkups.”
Again, don’t stress yourself, unnecessarily, if this is the case for you. As we discussed above, FASDs are a risk, not a guarantee. Just because you did drink alcohol early during your pregnancy does not necessarily mean your baby will develop FASDs. Be honest with your healthcare provider about your concerns and allow them to take the lead! If you are concerned your baby may have FASDs after birth, make sure and make your concerns known to your child’s pediatrician.
Alcohol During Pregnancy- Get the facts now in Russellville, KY
If you get a positive pregnancy test result, knowing you have recently drank alcohol, it can be easy to panic. Don’t stress- this is a scenario that many women facing unintended pregnancies deal with. We’ve got the facts and are here to help! We offer free pregnancy resources, free ultrasounds and more.
Give us a call at (270) 717-5433, send a text to (270) 883-2464, or schedule your appointment online today. All services are confidential and free of charge!
- “Basics about Fasds.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Nov. 2022, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/facts.html#:~:text=Fetal%20alcohol%20spectrum%20disorders%20(FASDs)%20are%20a%20group%20of%20conditions,a%20mix%20of%20these%20problems.
- “Alcohol and Pregnancy Questions and Answers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 Apr. 2023, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/faqs.html#:~:text=You%20probably%20won%27t%20know,start%20trying%20to%20get%20pregnant.
- “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, 10 Jan. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fetal-alcohol-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20352901.