Pregnancy and alcohol are not a recommended mix. Without precise studies showing whether there is a safe level of drinking during pregnancy, it is best to avoid it completely to ensure the best possible start for your developing baby.
As with many drugs, alcohol crosses the placenta. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. It can also cause your baby to be born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) – a condition caused by heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Babies with this condition also have abnormal facial features and are smaller than average. Delays in basic development (walking and talking) may also occur. During the earliest stages of pregnancy while baby’s major organs are being formed, risks from alcohol are at their highest.
However, if you had a big night out before you knew you were pregnant, try not to worry yourself. Just make sure you stop drinking as soon as you find out, and take your prenatal vitamins.
Evidence does suggest that regular daily consumption of more than one standard drink per day during pregnancy may result in a child with obvious behavioural and learning problems. Problems that can then continue into adult life.
The more alcohol that is consumed during pregnancy, the more likely it is that the child will experience significant long-term learning and behavioural problems.
Planning a pregnancy or becoming pregnant is a great reason to reduce or stop alcohol consumption.
If you think you might have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, speak to your doctor or midwife.
Professional counselling can provide you with strategies reducing or stopping your intake and creating a healthier future for both you and your baby.
Alcohol and breastfeeding
Just as alcohol passes into the placenta, it also passes into breast milk and may affect the development of your young baby’s brain. Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding can also disturb your baby’s sleep pattern and, subsequently, reduce your own milk supply.