Alcohol and Pregnancy

How does alcohol affect your unborn baby?

When you drink, the alcohol reaches your baby via the plancenta and as your baby cannot process the alcohol as quickly as you can it increases its exposure to the toxins. And too much exposure can seriously damage the baby's development. Alcohol in a foetus effects cell development and organs, especially the brain where it kills cells.

It is advised that pregnant women and women trying to concieve should avoid alcohol. However if you do choose to drink, protecting your baby by drinking no more than 1-2 units once or twice a week is advised. And you should not get drunk.

Alongside this, NICE guidlines indicate the first three months of pregnancy to be them most critical in terms of avoiding drinking, because of the increased risk of miscarriage.

 

Conception

If you are trying for a baby, its advisable to avoid alcohol, or if you do drink, limit units to 1-2 once or twice a week.

What about the father?

There are several reasons why the father may deceide to avoid drinking excessively if you are trying to conceive-

Alcohol kills sperm.

Excess alcohol can make men less fertile.

Heavy drinking can cause short term impotence.

When you're pregnant

Alcohol is not only dangerous for the baby within the first three months, it can also lead to problems developing, known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Children with this syndrome have-

Restricted growth.

Facial abnormalities.

Learning and behavioural disorders.

Regular drinking during pregnancy above the levels recommended, as well as binge drinking, may be associated with lesser forms of the full FAS

The risks of heavy drinking during pregnancy

First trimester (months 0-3)

- Damage to developing organs and nervous system, resulting in later mental and physial problems.

- Major structural abnormalities.

- Spontaneous miscarriage.

Second trimester (months 3-6)

- Continued risk of damage to central nervous system.

- Continued risk of miscarriage.

Third trimester (months 6-9)

- Disruption to general growth and development.

- Dulled mental abilites.

- Minor abnormalities.

- Low birth-weight.