The effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant
From the moment you decide to have a baby, you may begin to wonder whether drinking alcohol is a good choice, even before conception. Pregnancy can be a time of intense cravings and involves many life changes for the mother. One of which is alcohol consumption.
In this article we look at why it’s strongly advised to stop drinking alcohol when you become pregnant and even discuss why you should consider stopping in the run-up to conception.
Should I stop alcohol if trying to conceive?
The short answer to this, is that you should stop drinking at this point, it will make it easier to conceive and can protect your baby from serious issues. According to the charity Drink Aware, recent studies indicate that consuming alcohol prior to conception (for both men and women) is associated with a higher risk of heart defects for babies.
So for the best chance of success and to minimise health risks for your baby, cutting out drinking while trying to conceive is the best thing for you. It’s also a great way for men to support their partner, and to ensure their sperm is of the highest possible quality.
Drinking whilst pregnant
Congratulations, you’re pregnant – hopefully, at this point you’ve already given up drinking but if you haven’t the advice is that you should. Whilst the old adage was that you could have a glass of wine during pregnancy, your mum or grandma did, the advice nowadays is to avoid it completely. There’s no safe level of alcohol for your developing baby.
If you drink alcohol during pregnancy, some of it will filter through to the placenta, where it then reaches your unborn baby. The greater the amount, the more dangerous it is to them and it can lead to increasing your chances of miscarriage, affecting the development of your baby’s brain, increased risk of stillbirth, increased risk of premature labour, cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder plus many other risks.
If you are finding it difficult to stop drinking alcohol during your pregnancy, talk to your midwife or GP. There are support services that can help.
What’s fetal alcohol spectrum disorder?
Drinking heavily during pregnancy can have a long-lasting impact on your baby and they could develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Children born with FASD can be born with learning and physical disabilities as well as behavioural, emotional and psychiatric problems that can stay with them for life. How much a baby is affected by FASD is directly related to how often and how much a woman drinks during pregnancy.
While FASD is less severe than FAS, children with FASD can have learning difficulties, problems with behaviour, physical disability, and emotional and psychiatric problems that last a lifetime. Whether or not a baby is affected mildly or severely with FASD is directly linked to how much and how often a woman drinks during pregnancy.
Children born with FAS usually have even more severe physical and mental disabilities. More information about both conditions can be found at NOFAS. (National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome-UK).
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Women don't always know how to recognise a regular pattern of movements for their baby and don't know what they should be checking for. This leads to increased anxiety. When they do think something isn't quite right, they don't feel confident and they doubt themselves so don't seek advice straight away.
We're developing a device that will monitor your baby's movements during pregnancy from 24 weeks onwards so that you can have a better understanding of your baby's regular pattern of movements.
To read more helpful blogs visit our pregnancy blog.