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During pregnancy, your body does things you can’t imagine. A new life is growing inside you and your body is supplying all the necessities to it, creating organs, doubling your blood supply, and whatnot! All of this may seem very superhuman, but it gets exhausting at times. Not to mention the roller coaster ride of hormones as well. During your pregnancy, it is important to sit back and de-stress, not only for your well-being but also for the well-being of your little one and healthy delivery.
You want to relax on the couch sipping some wine but then you wonder- can pregnant women drink wine or is it ok for a pregnant woman to drink wine? The answer here is pretty simple- NO. You may now ask, “Why?”
Can Pregnant Women Drink Wine? Why Is It Harmful?
Alcohol is a chemical that can get into your bloodstream when you drink it. In the case of pregnant women, the alcohol passes to the fetus through the umbilical cord. Developing fetuses are unable to process or metabolize the chemical, which means that it poses numerous risks.
Prenatal alcohol exposure can increase the risk of congenital disabilities, pregnancy loss, and stillbirth. It can also lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
Should You Only Avoid Drinking During Pregnancy?
According to reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should avoid alcohol under three conditions:
- You’re pregnant
- You think you might be pregnant
- You’re trying to get pregnant
Busting The Myth: Can Pregnant Women Drink Wine?
A glass of wine may indeed help you unwind after a stressful day. But can pregnant women drink wine? The answer is a strict no-no, even though you might have heard otherwise.
You may have been told how women in France effortlessly eat baguettes and sip on their glasses of wine during pregnancy. But, health campaigns in France proclaim “Zero alcohol during pregnancy”. Also, according to regulatory guidelines in the country, all alcohol must include a label that advises complete abstinence for pregnant women.
Apart from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), European medical organizations too, agree that pregnant women should stay away from any sort of alcohol. Alcohol is included in the list of harmful drugs that pregnant women must avoid in countries like the United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, and Denmark.
How Much Harm Can a Glass of Wine Do?
However relaxing, a glass of red wine may sound to you, the truth is all alcohols contain the same chemical- ethyl alcohol or ethanol, which is a toxin to your body, and especially toxic to the tiny baby growing inside you.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can not only affect your pregnancy but also your breastfeeding pattern and the baby, both while in your womb and also in their later childhood. There’s no safe amount or type of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy.
What are The Effects of Alcohol on Babies?
Any amount or type of alcohol may harm your baby, and their health is too precious to risk.
What is FASD?
- The alcohol you consume can go to your baby by getting into your bloodstream and passing through the placenta.
- Drinking during pregnancy can increase the baby’s blood concentration.
- Your growing baby needs oxygen and nutrition for healthy growth, but alcohol blocks them from reaching the baby.
- High alcohol consumption during pregnancy can slow or harm the growth of organs of your developing baby and can cause permanent brain damage.
Most of the fetal health issues concerning alcohol consumption are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or FASD.
Health Complications in Babies Due to FASD:
- Impaired fine motor skills
- Behavioral changes
- Learning disabilities
- Poor communication skills
- Lack of attention and focus
- Impaired memory and judgment
The most serious kind of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is called fetal alcohol syndrome.
What Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)?
FASD describes any of several conditions that may develop as a result of a mother’s alcohol use when a child is in utero. Even though fetal death is one of the most extreme risks of drinking during pregnancy, a major part of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
What Causes FAS?
1. High alcohol consumption
2. Binge drinking
3. Regular use of alcohol throughout pregnancy.
Health Complications In Babies Due To FAS:
- Smaller head size
- Central nervous system (CNS) problems
- Abnormal facial features (small eyes; short, upturned nose; thin upper lip)
- Shorter than average height
- Low birth weight
- Poor reasoning and judgment skills
- Problems with eyesight
- Hearing issues
- Heart problems
- Kidney problems
- Weak bone health
- Smaller brain
People who have FAS have a combination of these problems. These effects are irreversible and often last a lifetime. But if pregnant women abstain from alcohol during pregnancy, this condition is preventable.
What Are The Effects Of Alcohol On Your Pregnancy?
Certain pregnancy-related complications are linked to wine or any other type of alcohol, but may not be distinctly classified as alcohol-related birth problems. Prenatal alcohol exposure of any kind is said to be linked to the following:
- Postnatal growth retardation
- Birth defects resulting in cardiac, skeletal, skin, renal, and other urogenital abnormalities
- Cognitive, neurological, and behavioral disorders
- Craniofacial dysmorphia
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
Does Drinking Wine Have Any Relation With Breastfeeding?
If you answer ‘yes’ to can pregnant women drink wine, you are inviting problems such as:
- A drop in breastmilk production
- Poor sleeping patterns for your baby
- Poor overall development of your infant
Can Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy Affect Later Childhood?
Often the consequences of drinking during pregnancy may not be immediate. Many issues often begin to rise later in your child’s life. One of the most common ones being attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Your child may be subjected to the increased risk of:
- Inappropriate social conduct
- Eating disorders
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Employment problems
- Inappropriate sexual behaviors
- Early death
It is not as if all of these issues will occur, but alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of these effects- and that is NOT something that you’d want for your baby. It is because of these well-established risks that you must practice abstinence from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
How Do Pregnant Women Avoid Alcohol Consumption?
Pregnancy can be tough at times and there can be times when you just want to sit down with a glass of wine and unwind. But now that you know the answer to “Can Pregnant Women Drink Wine” is NO, how can you keep your mind off drinking? Here are a few tips to keep yourself sober during pregnancy.
Tips To Keep Alcohol At Bay During Pregnancy
- Stay away from alcohol-related venues and events
- Replace your alcohol with fruit juice and make it fancy with a fun straw or a cocktail umbrella
- Dispose of any alcohol that you may have at home
- Talk to your partner
- Ask your friends and family for support
In case you are suffering from alcohol addiction, abstaining can be a difficult choice. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider regarding this. Your partner and family can play a supportive role in this.
There is no safe amount or safe type of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. Wine isn’t safer to drink than other types of alcohol, or distilled liquors. Complications can occur at any point during your pregnancy, and all types of alcohol present the same risk.
There are a few exceptional cases, where some pregnant women drink and have a healthy baby. Whereas, on the other hand, others who drink just a small amount may experience pregnancy complications that can affect the fetus.
The only way to be safe while trying to get pregnant, throughout pregnancy, and while breastfeeding, is to avoid alcohol altogether.