During pregnancy, you need to be very careful about what you eat and drink. This is because the foetus draws its nutrition from the foods you consume. So eating incorrectly can harm both the baby’s health and yours. Alcohol is one of the items you need to remove from your food & drink list during pregnancy. Read on to know about the effects of alcohol on pregnancy.
What happens when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol?
The foetus inside you is in a constant state of growth. During the initial four weeks of your pregnancy, your baby’s eyes, arms, heart, central nervous system and legs start to form. The baby’s brain starts to develop from the 3rd week, and continues to mature until the pregnancy ends.
When your baby is growing quickly, especially during the third trimester, drinking alcohol can seriously harm the baby. This is because when you drink alcohol, your baby does too. How? The alcohol you drink passes through the placenta and reaches the baby.
Moreover, your baby’s liver is the last organ to develop. This means its system can’t process alcohol that way your body does.
Excessive drinking during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders – one of the worst effects of alcohol on pregnancy. These disorders can result in irreversible mental, physical and neurological problems in the baby.
What are the effects of alcohol on the baby?
Some of the problems that can affect the baby are –
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Heart defects
- Chances of a miscarriage
- A small head
- Poor memory
- Speech and language delays
- Learning disabilities
- Inability to pay attention
- Vision problems
The baby is exposed to alcohol right from the early weeks of the pregnancy if the mother drinks. By the third week, alcohol starts to affect the baby’s heart and the central nervous system. The negative effects then progress to the baby’s arms, legs, eyes and the heart.
From week six, the baby’s teeth and ears are affected. At this stage, the mother may suspect that she is pregnant, but may not have confirmed it. If she continues to drink at this stage, then the baby’s palate and external genitalia are affected.
From week 12, alcohol starts to wreak havoc on the baby’s brain, eventually resulting in learning and cognitive problems.
Is there a safe limit to the amount of alcohol a pregnant woman can consume?
There is no safe amount of alcohol that you can consume during pregnancy. In fact, every mouthful of alcohol you drink affects the baby negatively.
Some mothers have a misconception that drinking late in the pregnancy does not harm the baby as its organs are fully developed. This is untrue because although most organs such as the brain do form, they aren’t fully developed and mature. Any exposure to alcohol during the developmental phase of the foetus can harm it significantly.
Can you drink if you are planning to be pregnant?
It is best to avoid alcohol at all times, even when you are planning to be pregnant.
Tips to avoid alcohol during pregnancy
- Meditate to keep the mind calm. It will also help you deal with the impulse of drinking alcohol.
- Gentle exercise will uplift your mood.
- Join a support group.
- Reward yourself for every alcohol-free day.
To ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy, you need to avoid alcohol at all costs.