How Alcohol Affects the Development of the Fetus in the Womb

The safest option is to avoid drinking alcohol when pregnant or when trying to conceive. That’s because alcohol consumption during pregnancy puts the baby at the risk of developmental problems like Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. FASD is a leading cause of developmental problems or disabilities in children in the United States of America.

The growing fetus in the womb is affected by everything that the mother drinks or eats. Women should, therefore, make healthy changes before and after conceiving. Avoiding alcohol is one of the most important changes to make when pregnant because alcohol can easily pass via the placenta and the umbilical cord to the baby. Thus, when a pregnant woman drinks, it’s like the fetus is drinking too. Alcohol can prevent the normal growth of the baby because it can affect different organs of the fetus including the brain.

Effects of Alcohol on the Fetus

Many women battling alcoholism have a hard time trying to quit after realizing they are pregnant. This chronic illness is characterized by a pre-occupation with alcohol and uncontrolled drinking. It’s a serious problem that requires professional help to solve.

Nevertheless, it’s important to stop drinking once you get pregnant for the well-being of your baby. If a pregnant woman continues to drink alcohol, the baby can be born with developmental disabilities or birth defects. Today, alcohol is among the major causes of preventable developmental disabilities and birth defects.

Research has shown that drinking any amount of alcohol while pregnant can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders that include different behavioral, physical and learning problems. Fetal alcohol syndrome reflects how alcohol affects the development of the central nervous system, as well as, growth of the legs, heart, eyes, ears, teeth, external genitalia, and palate.

Drinking even a single glass of wine regularly puts an unborn fetus at the risk of developmental, emotional, and mental disorders. Therefore, when a woman realizes that she is pregnant, she should quit drinking or stop taking alcoholic drinks until she delivers her baby. But, if a pregnant woman continues drinking, the fetus is constantly exposed to the effects of alcohol. This leads to the cumulative effects of alcohol. Alcohol continues to exert its effects on the growing fetus and this delays normal growth.

Possible Problems

If an alcoholic woman continues to drink during pregnancy, several problems are likely to occur.

They include:

· Miscarriage- Continued consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage in the early months.

· Stillbirth- The fetus can die in the womb in the second half of pregnancy if a pregnant woman continues drinking alcohol.

· Preterm Labor- Continued alcohol consumption during pregnancy can make the baby arrive earlier than normal. Premature babies have several health problems including breathing difficulties and immature lung problems.

· Birth Defects- Women that drink alcohol during pregnancy can give birth to babies with kidney or heart problems. Others can have hearing or seeing problems as well as other health issues.

· Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders- These disorders affect how a baby looks, learns, and thinks. These developmental and mental disabilities last a lifetime. Drinking more than four drinks per day increases the chances of a pregnant woman giving birth to a child with these disorders.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much for Pregnant Women?

A shy person who drinks several alcoholic beverages at a party may want to know whether it’s wise to continue drinking a little. Unfortunately, no alcohol amount is safe for a pregnant woman. That’s because the developing fetus can be hurt by alcohol in any amount. Alcohol passes via the placenta with ease. This organ is responsible for nourishing the baby during pregnancy.

Exposure to alcohol during the first trimester can lead to serious birth defects. At this time, a woman might not even know that she is pregnant. Alcohol consumption later during pregnancy can cause brain damage and poor growth. That’s why a woman that drinks during pregnancy can give birth to a child with behavioral and learning problems.

To prevent such problems, a pregnant woman should not drink any amount of alcohol. Similarly, a woman should not drink alcohol when trying to conceive or if she thinks she is pregnant.

Keep the Baby Safe

Some pregnant women can have babies that seem healthy even after drinking while pregnant. On the other hand, babies of some women that have little alcohol while pregnant can have serious health problems. Pregnancies are not the same and alcohol can hurt one fetus more than the other.

To ensure that your baby is safe, avoid drinking any amount of alcohol when pregnant. What’s more, get prenatal care regularly. If you want to conceive, are already pregnant, or you think you are carrying a baby and you have an addiction to alcohol, talk to your healthcare provider about it.

How to Stop Drinking Alcohol When Pregnant

It’s never late to stop if you have been drinking alcohol while pregnant. Research indicates that alcohol use disorders have a low prevalence in pregnant women than in women that are not pregnant. However, they can have many clinical challenges. Alcohol is part of most social activities including sporting events and parties. Many women are used to drinking while attending such events or at the end of busy days. This makes quitting alcohol difficult for them. However, it’s still possible.

Here are some of the ways to stop drinking during pregnancy:

· Think about occasions when you drink alcohol. Instead of drinking alcohol, go for water or fruity drinks. You can add fun to your drinking by putting an umbrella or a fun straw.

· Avoid places or situations that prompt you to drink alcohol. These can include bars and parties.

· If you have alcohol in your house, get rid of it.

· Tell your friends and partners as well as family members that you want to stop drinking because you are pregnant. Ask for their support and help.

It’s also important to look for alcoholic resources that you can use to stop drinking when pregnant. For instance, you can seek help from a local substance abuse treatment facility. You can also join a support group where you share and get ideas from people that are struggling with alcohol addiction like you. Use these resources to promote your endeavor to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy for the well-being of your fetus.

Thanks to Phyllis Baker

Speak Your Mind

*

Copyright 2014 @ A Celebration of Women™ The World Hub for Women Leaders That Care