Alcohol and Pregnancy
Did you know that there’s no safe amount of alcohol to drink while you’re pregnant? And there’s no safe time to drink during pregnancy. Even still, as many as 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women in the United States continue to drink alcohol, at least on occasion, effectively funneling poison directly into their growing baby.
What can drinking do during pregnancy?
Most of us have heard of fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS. This is the most severe result of heavy drinking during pregnancy, which is defined as more than three drinks at a time or more than seven drinks in a week. FAS can bring a number of serious birth defects, such as:
- Problems with brain development, resulting in intellectual disability
- Low birth weight and smaller size as the child grows
- Abnormally small head size
- Unusual facial features
- Problems with the heart, bones or kidneys
- Delays in speech and language
But what about just one drink every once in a while?
Let us repeat: during pregnancy, there’s no safe time to drink and no safe amount to drink. While moderate drinking might not cause such extreme damage to your baby, it can and often does cause less-obvious problems with:
Learning and memory
- Focus and attention
- Vision and hearing
- Understanding consequences
- Sleeping and feeding problems
What if I drank alcohol before I knew I was pregnant?
You can’t go back in time, so there’s no use beating yourself up about it now. Unless you drank heavily several times during the early stages of pregnancy, you probably didn’t cause serious harm to your child if you drank before you knew you were pregnant. The important thing is to stop drinking now.
What if it’s hard to stop drinking?
If you find yourself having trouble giving up alcohol, you need to get help now. The longer you wait, the more problems your baby could develop. You can start by talking to your OB-GYN or another health care provider you trust. They’ll be able to help you find the support you need to get healthy for the remainder of your pregnancy.
For information on finding the right OB-GYN for you, visit BayCare.org/Doctors.