Drinking in Early Stages of Pregnancy

Pregnancy is not only a beautiful phase for every woman, but also an experience that changes her attitudes and emotions for a lifetime. The very thought of being able to create a life has so much power that it can solve even acute problems of women, like heavy drinking, smoking and drug abuse. The times have been too stressful that people often indulge in self-destructing habits, like drinking, which can prove extremely dangerous during a pregnancy. Right from the time when the pregnancy is confirmed, a woman is supposed to consume as much nourishment as possible, for the baby’s proper growth. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is not at all acceptable, for various reasons.

Firstly, it reduces the chances of conceiving and secondly, the risks of drinking in early pregnancy can affect the growth of the embryo and can even lead to a miscarriage within the first three months. Even if the fetus survives through the nine-month period, there are chances of some birth defects, brain and behavior related problems.

Most of the times, women continue drinking until they realize that they are in the early stages of pregnancy, but immediate stopping of alcohol consumption is highly recommended. The brain and other vital organs of the baby start developing around the third week of pregnancy, thus sooner the woman leaves drinking the better. The reason why even moderate drinking in pregnancy is prohibited is because in the first few months, alcohol easily passes through the placenta to the fetus, where alcohol is broken down much slowly as compared to the adult body, which in a way means that the alcohol level in the baby’s blood would remain for a long time, thus can causing serious damage.

Drinking alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy can prove extremely dangerous for the fetus, since the possibility of some Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) increase rapidly. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is one of the main causes of mental retardation in babies. Babies affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are usually smaller in size and they do not catch up on growth, as they get older. It has usually been seen that babies affected by FAS have small eyes, a thin upper lip and smooth skin between the nose and upper lip. Their organs, especially the heart doesn’t develop properly and they usually have smaller brains, which can be translated as poor coordination and short attention span, in short some degree of mental disability. Even if the babies don’t show any signs of mental retardation for the first few years, but the effect of FASDs and FAS can be felt later, in the form of psychological and behavioral problems and criminal behavior.

Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorders (ARNDs) include learning disabilities, low concentration levels, memory and problem solving, speech and language delays; hyperactivity, psychological disorders and poor school performance and Alcohol related birth defects (ARBDs) are the physical birth defects that a baby may get born with, due to alcohol consumption during pregnancy. ARBDs include defects in some vital organs of the baby, like heart, liver, kidneys, eyes, ears and bones.

Those who think that drinking during pregnancy is not a big deal, here is a list of problems newborn can face due to your consumption habit:

  • Small body size and weight.
  • Small eye opening.
  • Small head.
  • Curved spine and hip dislocations.
  • Drooping eyelids.
  • Small jaw.
  • Slower development and failure to catch-up in comparison to other kids.
  • Limited joint movement.
  • Short upturned nose.
  • Poorly formed or low set ears.
  • Kidney and urinary defects.
  • Poor hand, body and finger co-ordination.
  • Mental retardation that can sometimes be severe.
  • Hyperactivity.

It is surely not a good picture and the symptoms can be very serious. There are chances of child getting these effects as permanent part of his life. If you are pregnant, do not take any chance with the future of the baby and stop drinking immediately.

No level of alcohol has been proven safe neither during pregnancy nor while in the breastfeeding stage. Studies have shown that women, who resume drinking after delivering a baby, have their babies at higher risks like psychological and behavioral problems during their teenage years. If a woman craves for a drink, then it is important for her to wait for at least two hours for breastfeeding after having a drink. Though the risks of drinking first trimester of pregnancy are the most dangerous and is thus not at all acceptable for the baby’s growth, even in the childbearing stage, it can affect the baby’s growth negatively. Thus, it is advisable that women abstain from alcohol during the pregnancy as well as breastfeeding stages.

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