Drinking during pregnancy

Drinking during pregnancy. Picture: iStock

Can you have an occasional drink during pregnancy?

Some women find it hard to kick the drinking habit when they are pregnant. Enjoying a tipple during pregnancy can present serious problems for the developing foetus. Excessive alcohol use by pregnant women has been directly linked to everything from spontaneous miscarriage to low birth weight.

The heaviest drinkers leave their babies at risk of developing Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, a condition that can include facial deformity, mental retardation and other health risks. Alcohol can also contribute to organ deformities leading to poor organ function and vision deficiency.

Can you have an occasional drink?

A baby is more vulnerable when it is still developing as its body hasn’t formed all of its natural defences and it is open to any number of outside contaminants absorbed directly through your own body.  Even so, people argue that an occasional drink cannot pose any harm. But a subject of debate is how much and how safe is an occasional drink during pregnancy? It’s simple: Having five drinks or more in one sitting qualifies as binge drinking and is a sign that you need help, pregnant or not.

Putting the baby at risk

Either way, by consuming  alcohol you are putting your baby at risk, as the alcohol in your system will enter the baby through the placenta. The more you expose your baby to something risky, the greater the chance that there will be a detrimental effect. Like any other potential threat during pregnancy, the more you can limit it, the better.

Take care of yourself

The better you maintain your own health during pregnancy, the better off you’ll both be. Bottom line: take all of the necessary precautions during pregnancy but don’t beat yourself up if you slip up every now and then. As long as drinking does not become a regular habit during your pregnancy you are most likely safe.

That being said, obviously the more you can abstain from drinking, drugs, eating poorly and any other health risks, the better for you and your baby. Drinking has its risks no matter how much you consume, so if you are truly concerned about the effect on your baby, give up alcohol entirely during these precious few months that you are growing a new life.

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