Alcohol and pregnancy do not go hand in hand. Even the smallest amount of alcohol taken during pregnancy can have potential harmful effects on the baby. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no safe time, as well as no known safe amount, during pregnancy for consuming alcohol. Moreover, multiple evidence-based studies have reported that alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to a multitude of health risks such as, premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.
When a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, it passes through the placenta to the infant. Since the baby is in the development phase, it lacks liver and other vital organs to metabolize alcohol. Therefore, the fetus has the same blood alcohol concentration as that of the mother.
More than 3 million women between the age group of 15 and 45 years are susceptible to exposing their fetus to alcohol because of their active sexual lives, consumption of alcohol and negligence to use birth control methods, said the CDC. Surprisingly, three out of four women who desire to get pregnant do not stop consuming alcohol when they wean off the birth control methods, emphasized the CDC.
Alcohol affects development of the brain in fetus
Alcohol consumption in the first few weeks of pregnancy, or even before a woman discovers that she is pregnant, can incur debilitating physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities which can last a lifetime. These disorders are collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Alcohol acts as a neurotoxin, affecting the development of the brain in a growing fetus. It also acts as a teratogen by inducing birth defects in a baby.
FASDs are completely preventable, therefore, women planning to get pregnant should stop drinking alcohol as soon as they stop using the contraception methods. FAS is a lifetime disorder, manifesting in various forms, at various stages. The significant feature of FAS is retarded growth during and after birth, smaller head and brain, damage to the central nervous system, anatomical defects of heart and spine and uncharacteristic facial features. Multiple behavioral problems, intellectual disability, vision and hearing problems can also develop as a result of damage to the central nervous system (CNS).
Dealing with alcohol cravings during pregnancy
As soon as a woman decides to start a family, she should immediately stop drinking any form of alcohol. However, women with binge drinking and alcoholism might crave for alcohol during pregnancy. Here are a few coping strategies which might help a woman to steer clear of alcohol during pregnancy:
- An urge to drink usually stems from boredom, therefore, one must try to keep busy to avoid distraction.
- One must remember that pregnancy and childbirth are beautiful phases and being a mother, it is the moral duty of a woman to protect her child while it is still inside the womb.
- One can still enjoy their social life with friends and colleagues by opting for “virgin” or non-alcoholic beverages.
- Nowadays, a lot of bars are coming up with a no-liquor policy. It is always safe to hang out at such places during pregnancy to stay away from alcohol.
- If the cravings are too hard to ignore, one should reach out to support groups and rehabs for counseling.
Road to recovery
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is a major public health concern, causing significant health distress to the unborn child. However, abstinence from alcohol can prevent the occurrence of serious disorders in the long run.
If you, or someone close, is pregnant, or trying to get pregnant but finding it challenging to ignore alcohol cravings, then seek medical advice immediately. You may get in touch with the California Detox Helpline to know about the best detox centers in California. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-780-2495 or chat online to gain information on various detox and rehab centers in California. Our representative can connect you to the best detox retreat in California.