Drinking in and around Pregnancy
While drinking in large amounts is dangerous for all women (and men for that matter), drinking any amount is dangerous for pregnant women, or women who are planning pregnancy. There is no safe amount of alcohol for pregnant women, or women planning pregnancy. Now, does this mean the three sips of champagne you had at your cousin’s wedding right before you had a positive pregnancy test is going to seriously harm your baby? Most likely not. However, if you had 6 beers at your cousin’s wedding that may be a different story. The best advice is to avoid all alcohol while trying to get pregnant and throughout the pregnancy. Drinking has also been linked to infertility which is another reason to avoid alcohol when planning pregnancy. Once nursing, drinking up to 1 drink per day and waiting at least 2 hours before nursing is not known to be harmful to your baby, however more than that is not recommended.
Often women do not know they are pregnant until they miss their period which can be from 4-6 weeks into their pregnancy. If you know you are trying for a baby it is best to avoid alcohol entirely.
The danger of drinking during pregnancy is fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most severe consequence of drinking during pregnancy. This syndrome has physical characteristics along with mental characteristics associated with a baby whose mother drank during pregnancy. These are problems with brain development which can manifest in behavioral, motor, and learning issues; lower-than-average height and weight; smaller-than-normal head size; and abnormal facial features. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders happen in children of mothers who drank during pregnancy in which they do not have the physical attributes of FAS, but do have the problems with coordination, behavior, attention, learning, and/or understanding consequences. Drinking during the first three months of pregnancy is correlated to the highest risks for FASD and FAS, although any drinking increases your chance. Drinking in pregnancy is also correlated with miscarriage and stillbirth.
Recently it was found that 1 in 9 pregnant women drinks during their pregnancy and 4 percent binge drink, women who binge drink have more than three drinks per occasion, during their pregnancy. And according to recent CDC studies, that number is on the rise. There are some people dependent on alcohol and there are ways to get better. Your doctors can help, there are support groups, counseling, treatment centers (either inpatient or outpatient), and medication. While no amount of alcohol is safe in pregnancy, the earlier you stop drinking, the better for you and your baby.
See below for some resources to help stop drinking:
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