Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy?
Women and their partners often have a dilemma: Is drinking while pregnant safe? Any doctor will say that this is prohibited at any stage of pregnancy and even before conception itself if you are planning it. It is recommended that both parents give up alcohol in order to exclude a harmful effect on the unborn baby.
Various studies are constantly being conducted to reveal the relationship between the physical and mental disabilities of the baby with the use of alcohol. Alcohol and pregnancy are mutually exclusive things that always lead to negative consequences, which can appear immediately or over time.
The harm of alcohol during pregnancy is associated with its ability to be absorbed into the walls of the intestines, stomach, and enter the bloodstream. The negative effect is spread to the unborn child much faster than the adult. Below are specific details and examples of how alcohol during pregnancy affects the pregnancy itself.
The effect of alcohol on the fetus
Regular use of alcohol during pregnancy often lead to a miscarriage or premature birth (stillborn or premature babies). If the mother is able to carry the baby to full term, there is still a huge risk of the baby having fetal alcohol syndrome. This term indicates the presence of many disorders indicating the effect of alcohol on fetal development.
Drinking while pregnant means deformities in the structure of the face, a slowdown in physical development, growth, and low birth weight. These children have difficulty learning and often suffer from behavioral and neurological problems. The main problem is that alcohol syndrome cannot be cured, which means that all of the symptoms will remain with the child forever.
Early days of pregnancy
It is believed that in the beginning alcohol will not harm the baby in any way. Alcohol in the first week of pregnancy supposedly cannot get to the fetus because the placenta is not formed, the child does not receive nutrition from the mother. This statement is not entirely true because a small amount of alcohol in the blood can prevent cells from attaching to the uterus, which will terminate a long-awaited pregnancy.
Doctors strongly recommend that couples who have problems conceiving should give up alcohol long before trying to get pregnant. Alcohol in early pregnancy is critically dangerous even when the embryo is attached. The use leads to severe consequences in the development of the fetus, which causes mental development issues and physiological deformities. For a child, this stage is difficult, dangerous, and important, so you should not just limit the amount, you need to completely stop drinking.
First weeks of pregnancy
Alcohol in the first weeks of pregnancy can cause irreparable damage to cells, leading to the death of the egg. After the egg is fertilized, it moves to the uterus, where the endometrium is ready for implantation. The egg grows into the lining of the uterus, where it continues to divide. At this stage, some of the cells create a hairy membrane called the chorion, which then becomes the placenta. Alcohol that has entered the body can enter the uterus and harm the egg, which sometimes provokes miscarriages in the first weeks of pregnancy.
Late in pregnancy
Regular use of alcohol during pregnancy leads to the development of various disabilities in the baby, the risk of which is about 50%. Alcohol during late pregnancy can cause:
- Abnormal development of the genitourinary system
- Cardiovascular system defects
- Upper and lower extremities development issues
- Hypoplasia, missing fingers
- Abnormalities in the development of the nail plate, dysplasia of the joints
- Low weight and insufficient oxygen even before birth
- Wide and flat nose bridge, narrow eyes, low forehead, and other facial defects
- Social and other development issues throughout the child’s life.
Last weeks of pregnancy
Before the due date, alcohol is even more dangerous than before. Alcohol is the most dangerous toxic substance. Yet, alcohol during pregnancy is absorbed into the bloodstream, crossing the placental barrier without any problems. Alcohol negatively affects the cells of tissues, organs of the unborn child, and causes irreparable damage to the nervous system, especially the brain.
The list of possible negative consequences is frighteningly long. No parent would want to see their child suffer for the rest of their life due to circumstances they had no control over, yet their parents did. Before taking that drink, think “Is it truly worth the risk?”.
When you are planning to have a child or as soon as you find that you are pregnant, cut off alcohol completely or reduce its consumption to a minimum. If you feel unable to control your alcohol use yourself, seek help.