Nationally, nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned and many women do not know they are pregnant for 4-6 weeks after conception. Important brain development is occurring during this time frame and drinking alcohol can have a significant impact on the developing baby.
Your doctor said “having one drink will be okay.”
Here is why it is NOT okay: No study has proven there is a safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. We know that alcohol can cause permanent brain damage to a developing baby. Why take the risk? All major medical associations advise pregnant women not to drink alcohol at all.
It’s a BIG deal
When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, so does your baby. The same amount of alcohol that is in your blood is also in your baby’s blood. Although your body is able to manage alcohol in your blood, you baby’s little body isn’t. Researchers have learned that even small amounts of alcohol can cause physical and cognitive problems such as learning disorders, short-term memory problems, and attention deficit disorder that often don’t show up until children begin school.
It’s not fine…
You may know some women who drank regularly during pregnancy and has seemingly healthy babies. You may know some women who had very little alcohol during pregnancy and had babies with serious health conditions. Every pregnancy is different. Drinking alcohol may hurt one baby more than another. The best way to ensure a healthy baby is to stay away from alcohol altogether.
Out of all abusive substances, including recreational drugs, prenatal exposure to alcohol is most likely to cause neurobehavioral damage to a fetus, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Don’t panic. The best thing you can do is to stop drinking alcohol as soon as you know you are pregnant. The sooner you stop drinking which includes wine, wine coolers, beer and hard liquor, the better it will be for both you and your baby.
Then make sure you are maximizing those things you have control over like getting regular prenatal care, taking good care of yourself by stopping smoking, eating healthy and getting plenty of rest. It is also a good idea to talk to your health care provider about any concerns you may have.
Not every woman who consumes alcohol during pregnancy will give birth to a child with an FASD. However, because science has not determined a safe level of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, the possibility of an FASD is created anytime a woman consumes alcohol while pregnant.