Alcohol and pregnancy do not mix.
It is not safe to consume any alcohol while pregnant or while attempting to get pregnant. All types of alcohol use during pregnancy are equally dangerous, including both beer and wine. If you are a pregnant woman who is addicted to alcohol, it is vital for your health and your child’s health to seek treatment.
FASDs (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders) are preventable and do not occur unless a baby is exposed to alcohol before birth.
How Does Alcohol and Drugs Affect Pregnancy?
According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there is no safe amount of alcohol when pregnant. It is not considered safe to drink any type of alcohol in pregnancy either. NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) and NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) also advise against alcohol during pregnancy.
Even moderate drinking – consuming one standard drink a day – can trigger lifelong problems for your baby. Although the problems caused by moderate drinking might be less apparent than those induced by heavy drinking, they can include the baby experiencing issues with:
- Comprehending consequences
Pregnancy and alcohol make a bad combination, then. Any alcohol in your blood while pregnant will pass to your baby via the umbilical cord and placenta. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can bring about a variety of lifelong problems for the baby. These problems can be physical, intellectual, and behavioral. Collectively, these alcohol-induced disabilities are labeled FASDs (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders). Children with FASDs can exhibit the following behaviors and characteristics:
- Below-average height
- Small head size
- Low body weight
- Abnormal facial features
- Vision problems
- Hearing problems
- Impaired coordination
- Problems with attention
- Hyperactive behavior
- Sleep problems
- Bone, kidney, or heart problems
- Learning disabilities
- Poor memory
- Speech or language delays
- Weak judgment and reasoning skills
- Low IQ
- Difficulties in school
Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant
Pregnancy and drinking is an unsafe mix, even small amounts of alcohol or alcohol and early pregnancy.
Fortunately, the FASDs outlined above are entirely preventable if you abstain from alcohol throughout your pregnancy.
Beyond this, consuming alcohol during pregnancy could also lead to the following psychiatric issues:
- Heightened risk of alcohol use disorder
- Increased risk of other substance use disorders
- ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- Problems with impulse control, conduct, and hyperactivity
There is no safe period during pregnancy to consume alcohol. Drinking any type of alcohol during the first three months of your pregnancy can result in your baby being born with abnormal facial features.
A baby’s brain continues to develop throughout pregnancy and could be affected by any exposure to alcohol at any time. Additionally, problems with the CNS (central nervous system) and problems with growth can occur due to the consumption of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy.
Luckily, it is never too late to stop drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Even if this will not undo the damage done, abstinence will improve the health and well-being of your baby.
If you find you are unable to stop drinking alcohol, you may have developed alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD is classified as a chronic and relapsing brain disorder. The compulsive consumption of alcohol despite clearly negative outcomes is characteristic of alcoholism. Find out below how to get the addiction treatment you need at a rehab near you.
Alcohol-Related Birth Defects
If you drink alcohol during pregnancy, this will increase your baby’s chances of developing the following problems:
- FASDs: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is an umbrella term for a range of problems spanning both developmental and intellectual disabilities. Inducing problems with brain functioning, FASDs can cause a child to encounter problems with communicating, learning, interacting with others, and looking after themselves. Typically, children with FASDs also have delays or problems in physical development. Most FASDs last a lifetime. Binge drinking is the most likely pattern of alcohol consumption to cause a baby to have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
- Brain damage: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause the baby to suffer brain damage as well as problems with development and growth.
- Birth defects: A birth defect is a health defect that is present when a baby is born. Common birth defects include vision problems, hearing problems, and heart defects.
- Premature birth: If you drink alcohol during pregnancy, this will increase the chances of your baby being born prematurely – before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Many premature babies experience serious health issues, both at birth and throughout later life.
- Miscarriage: Heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause a woman to miscarry, with the baby dying in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Stillbirth: If the baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy, this is termed stillbirth. The likelihood of stillbirth is increased if you drink during pregnancy.
- LBW (low birthweight): If a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds and 8 ounces, this is classified as low birthweight.
How to Avoid Alcohol in Pregnancy
Remember, if you don’t drink any alcohol while pregnant, you will eliminate the chance of your baby being born with FASDs or other alcohol-induced conditions.
Maybe you have seen friends or family members drink alcohol during pregnancy and then deliver healthy babies with no apparent health issues. Every individual and every pregnancy are different, though. Alcohol can hurt some babies more than others.
The smartest strategy is to abstain completely from alcohol during the whole term of pregnancy.
You should engage with regular prenatal care when pregnant. If you feel you need help to stop drinking alcohol, reach out to your healthcare provider. Confide in your family, too. Over 28 million people in the United States have alcohol use disorder, so you are certainly not alone in your struggle.
Alcohol is often a central part of social activities so you may find it challenging to abstain. Here are some handy hints to avoid alcohol during pregnancy:
- Find some fun soft drinks as an alternative to water or soda
- Remove all alcohol from your home
- Avoid situations where you might feel tempted to drink alcohol – parties, for instance
- Tell your friends and loved ones you will not be drinking any alcohol while pregnant and enlist their support
- Join a peer-support group like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)
- Engage with outpatient addiction treatment
Getting Help at The District Recovery
Whether you are experiencing issues with alcohol pregnancy or you are thinking of getting pregnant and want to first address your alcohol use disorder, we can help you here at The District.
Our gender-specific outpatient programs allow you to start the recovery process in a safe environment free of distractions and triggers.
Our dual diagnosis treatment programs are ideal for anyone with alcoholism and co-occurring mental health conditions like depression, anxiety disorder, or PTSD.
Once you have detoxed from alcohol – we can help connect you with a licensed medical detox center if required – you’ll work on unpicking the psychological aspect of alcohol addiction. You can achieve this through engaging with a personalized array of the following therapies:
- Counseling (individual and group)
- Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
- MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
- Family therapy
In addition to those evidence-based treatments, you will also have access to holistic therapies for an integrated approach to recovery.
When you complete your treatment program at TDRC, you can step down to a less intensive form of treatment, relocate to a sober living community, or transition back into day-to-day life.
We’re here to help you every step of the way here at The District. Get things started by calling the team today at 844.287.8506.