Pregnancy - Alcohol and Pregnancy

As recently as ten or twenty years ago, pregnant woman were told to drink wine or beer to help calm them down. It's not unusual in movies from these times to see pregnant women calmly drinking hard alcohol and smoking. Nowadays many pregnant women are told to completely avoid alcohol. What has changed?

A lot of reserach has now been done on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS. The problem is that alcohol crosses VERY easily from the pregnant mother's bloodstream into that of the baby's. As few as two drinks a day can cause changes in the baby such as:

  • heart, genital and joint malformation
  • brain malformation, resulting in severe mental handicaps
  • growth retardation which can affect adult size of the child
  • skull/head malformation related to the above

These reactions are very marked and are definitely traceable to the alcohol consumption. While alcohol can have many quite healthy benefits for an adult, it can be quite harmful for the developing fetus.

An expecting mother should abstain while she is trying to get pregnant, and then during the entire pregnancy. A single drink might not do much harm, but in general it is safer to avoid something which has been proven *to* cause harm in such damaging ways.

When you move on to breastfeeding, try to time your alcoholic drink so that you have 2-3 hours before you begin to breastfeed the baby again. This gives the alcohol time to leave your system.

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