Future mothers may wonder: is drinking any amount of acceptable alcohol during pregnancy? Studies reveal that 1 in 9 pregnant women reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.1 Despite this being a common practice, there is no amount of acceptable alcohol during pregnancy due to health risks for the child, as we will continue to explore.
When a mother embarks on the beautiful journey of pregnancy and birth, they must adapt their lifestyle in various ways to take care of themselves and their baby’s health. This includes limiting their caffeine intake, avoiding undercooked meat, taking prenatal vitamins – and most importantly – avoiding recreational drugs or alcohol. Here’s why.
4 Dangers Of Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy
There’s a reason why health professionals advise against alcohol consumption during pregnancy; it is commonly associated with severe pregnancy complications and detrimental health outcomes for the baby. Let’s explore a few of the most pressing dangers related to drinking while pregnant:
#1: Increased Risk For Miscarriage
One of the most devastating events for an expecting mother is losing the fetus through miscarriage before 20 weeks. Many miscarriages are entirely out of the mother’s control. Yet studies at Vanderbilt found that women who drank during pregnancy increased their risk for miscarriage by as much as 19%, even when drinking alcohol in small quantities.2 This is why refraining from alcohol is crucial to protecting the baby’s life.
#2: Risk For Baby Developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
When a mother drinks throughout her pregnancy, especially in large quantities, she increases the risk of the child developing fetal alcohol syndrome. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition that negatively impacts the growth, brain, development, and overall physical and mental health of the baby throughout their life.
Depending on the amount and time frame when alcohol is consumed, this syndrome can range from mild symptoms to more severe cases with a host of social, behavioral, intellectual, and physical symptoms.
Some of the most common indicators of Fetal Alcohol Syndromes include:3
- One or more distinct facial characteristics, including thin upper lip, upturned nose, or small eyes
- Issues with hearing or vision
- Slow growth and a small head circumference
- Poor performance in school, including lack of social skills, trouble focusing in class, and lack of problem-solving abilities
- Issues such as hyperactivity, a poor concept of time, and setting goals
#3: Risk For Premature Birth And Stillbirth
Drinking alcohol while pregnant impacts the birthing process itself, by increasing the likelihood of premature birth and the tragedy of a stillborn baby. One study revealed that women who consumed alcohol had a much higher risk of birthing babies prematurely with low birth weight and lower birth centile, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.4 Other studies showed that stillbirths were 40% more likely with mothers who drank versus those who did not.5
Premature birth is a dangerous complication because there isn’t sufficient time for the fetus to grow and develop inside the mother’s uterus fully. This, in turn, subjects babies to a variety of short and long-term health issues. These potential issues include problems associated with the baby’s heart, brain, kidneys, respiratory system, vision, and more.
#4: Risk Of Injury
Besides adverse outcomes of alcohol consumption on the baby, drinking while pregnant also poses risk to the mother. Drinking in excess can impact a mother’s coordination and decision-making abilities. Partaking in risky behaviors while drunk, such as driving under the influence, tripping and falling, or using other illicit substances, can injure both the mother and baby alike.
The Bottom Line: There Is Never An Amount Of Acceptable Alcohol During Pregnancy
If you find yourself asking, “can I drink alcohol while pregnant?” it could be pointing to an underlying dependence on alcohol. Suppose you have serious urges to drink while pregnant and are concerned about your relationship with alcohol. In that case, it is essential to seek the support of medical and addiction professionals immediately.
Treating alcohol addiction before, during, and after pregnancy will avoid negative impacts on the baby. Working with addiction specialists will help you stay sober and protect the health of yourself and your child.
Enroll In An Alcohol Rehab Program At Ocean Hills Recovery Today
There is no need to suffer in silence if you are dealing with alcohol addiction while pregnant. Located in the beautiful Dana Point, Ocean Hills Recovery’s team of compassionate addiction specialists and therapists use evidence-based healing approaches to transform patient’s lives. Contact our professional staff to learn more about how we can help you navigate pregnancy with an alcohol addiction today.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.