There are very few people that would dispute that alcohol can increase the risk of harm to an unborn baby. Although no one knows exactly how much alcohol is safe to drink while you are pregnant, we do know that the risk of damage to your baby increases the more you drink, with binge drinking especially harmful.
So how bad is drinking alcohol while pregnant really? Do we really need to avoid drinking completely or is the occasional glass okay?
Alcohol and pregnancy
Unfortunately for those partial to a wine here or there, the safest option for women is to abstain from drinking alcohol completely if they are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Alcohol is a toxin that rapidly crosses from the mother’s blood stream into the baby’s blood stream. So essentially, when you drink, so does your baby!
Drinking endangers your growing baby in a number of ways:
It can change the way a baby’s face, organs and brain development
It can affect the baby’s nervous system
It can increase the chances of having a baby with a low birth weight
It can raise your child’s risk of problems with learning, speech, attention span, language and hyperactivity
What about the occasional drink?
Some studies have suggested that light drinking is not harmful for you baby. However, as it stands, we do not know what a safe level of drinking might be, or if there even is such a thing as a safe level! For that reason, experts agree that once you’ve started trying for a baby, or know you are pregnant, it is best to stop drinking all together.
I drank before I knew I was pregnant! Will my baby be okay?
Many women have a few drinks before realising they are pregnant. Try not to worry, the risk of harm to your baby is low. The important thing is to cut out alcohol as soon as you find out that you are expecting.
While the advice you receive about alcohol and pregnancy can be confusing, as a general rule of thumb it is better to be safe than sorry and avoid alcohol while pregnant and breastfeeding. This time without a drink may seem like a daunting prospect to some, but we think it’s a sacrifice worth making for a happy, healthy baby!
The opinions in this article are that of the author only. Always consult a doctor or health care professional if you have any queries or concerns about the health of you or your child. If you would like to find out more information please click here.