Alcohol and pregnancy: will it affect you or your baby?
It was never easy being a husband to an alcoholic, but it was even harder being a husband to an alcoholic wife who was carrying our child. It was one of the toughest struggles of our lives, but we eventually got through it. My wife gave birth to our beautiful son 5 years ago, but it wasn’t an easy road. Alcohol can affect pregnancies in multiple ways.
When you drink, alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and goes directly to the baby. A baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop in the first trimester and doesn’t fully mature until the last stages of pregnancy. No amount of alcohol has ever proven to be safe, so if you find out that you’re pregnant you should immediately cut out the alcohol. For alcoholics, this is easier said than done.
I would love to share our story with you and how my wife’s alcoholism affected her pregnancy with our son. That cheeky glass of wine at dinner might be tempting but it could come at a huge cost. Here are 3 ways alcohol can affect your pregnancy:
Side effects of quitting too fast
My wife fell pregnant just as she got out of rehab and while she was in and out of relapsing. Upon hearing the exciting news, our doctor advised us on the dangers of drinking while pregnant and told my wife that she needed to quit drinking altogether to avoid being at risk of miscarrying or giving birth to a stillborn baby.
With this sudden change and the fact that there was more than one life to care about, my wife took the news very seriously, knowing she needed to change her ways. As a result, my wife quickly developed some mental disorders including insomnia while she was having alcohol withdrawals.
This was an incredibly uncomfortable time for her. I would wake up at five a.m. to hear her walk up and down our hallway or constantly tossing and turning in bed for hours trying to get comfortable.
After a few Google searches she decided to try out yoga, as she couldn’t do exercise too vigorously. My wife quickly developed a love for yoga and still practices it today. It assisted with stretching during the pregnancy which assisted in her give natural birth experience. Yoga also taught her how to go into a state of peacefulness and meditation, which helped her fight the cravings she had.
We also took up going to the local farmer’s markets on Sunday’s to fill the house with fruits and vegetables, which enabled her to maintain a healthy diet. After a while, she was sleeping soundly again.
Low birth weight
Our son was born premature, which was due to the alcohol consumption at the beginning of the pregnancy. My wife presented all the signs of a heavy drinking problem, and getting her to quit completely was hard. Low birth weight is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces or born before 37 weeks.
A baby born early has less time in the mother’s uterus to grow and gain weight, and most of the fetus’s weight is gained during the last stages of the pregnancy. Therefore, it can be devastating if you don’t have the right medical assistance or proper care.
Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using illicit drugs during pregnancy are some of the key causes of slowing down your baby’s growth in the womb, which can increase the risk of premature birth and birth defects. In short, the more you drink the greater the risk.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD)
We are fortunate that we were not affected by FASD with our son, but I would like to mention this as it’s incredibly serious. A baby is unable to process alcohol as well as the mother can, which means it can damage cells in their brain, spinal cord and other parts of their body.
Babies that survive excessive alcohol while in the womb can be left with potentially lifelong problems. These can include problems with the liver, kidneys, heart or other organs, distinctive facial features such as small eyes or a thin upper lip, poor growth, learning difficulties, behavioral problems such as autism-like or ADHD and even hearing and vision problems.
This can be detrimental to the child as they grow into an adult and gives them a much larger disadvantage starting life than a child born healthy. Once the damage has been caused to the child’s brain and organs it can not be reversed. The only cure to preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) is to not drink while pregnant.
To learn more about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, please visit our friends at National Organization On Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
It’s never too late to stop drinking; stopping at any point during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of health problems in your baby. If you’re a recovering alcoholic like my wife was 5 years ago, know that it gets better, and be assured that everything will all be worth it once you get to hold your baby in your arms.
Speak out to your loved ones or seek professional help if you feel your recovery is becoming too much for you to handle on your own. Do you have any insider tips that helped you to stay off the drink while you were pregnant? We would love to hear about it. Leave us a comment below.
About the Author
Hi, my name is Andy! I was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. I spend my time helping others with their recovery and growing my online business.