In Canada and America the guidelines concerning pregnancy and alcohol are very clear – women who are pregnant or trying to fall pregnant should not drink. But in Australia, the guidelines are much softer. We are advised not to drink, but if you must do so then to limit your weekly consumption to less than 7 drinks, with no more than 2 in a day.
On current research no one knows exactly how much – or how little – alcohol can harm a developing baby. However, we do know that high levels of alcohol during pregnancy can damage your baby’s mental and physical development, especially in the first trimester (see FAS below). As such, you should take a very cautious approach and the best plan is to abstain from drinking alcohol altogether!
Foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) affects babies whose mother’s drink heavily during pregnancy. These babies suffer from mental and growth retardation, behavioural problems, and facial and heart defects. The effects of alcohol on babies are high in women who also smoke, drink large amounts of drinks containing caffeine and who have a poor diet during pregnancy. And this is only the tip of the iceberg as there is now also evidence to suggest that behavioural and learning difficulties can result later in childhood from FAS and the factors that affect it.
From a general point of view you should treat your body and what goes into it during pregnancy as very important to your baby's health and well being. Drink plenty of water, eat healthy & nutritious foods, and really take care of yourself throughout the entire pregnancy. You only get one chance to start your baby's life in the most healthy and positive way as possible!
Women trying to fall pregnant are advised not to drink to enhance their chances of conception, but now this advice can be extended to their partners. A recent study in Denmark revealed that when women consumed 10 or more alcoholic beverages in the week of conception, they were nearly three times more likely to have a miscarriage than those who abstained. However, when fathers-to-be consumed a similar quantity, their partners’ risk of miscarriage was up to five times greater than for women whose partners did not drink! It might be hard to convince your partner to stop drinking but this study shows it has a large affect on your conception chances.
When you drink alcohol it quickly reaches your baby through your bloodstream and across the placenta (and into semen which is how it can affect conception). This alcohol has a detrimental effect on the healthy development of the foetus.
Avoiding or cutting down on alcohol may be easy if you develop a dislike for it early in your pregnancy. But if you find it harder to give up, or tend to use alcohol to unwind, de-stress or socialize it up may require more effort! Try these tips to take alcohol out of your diet:
• Experiment by replacing a glass of beer or wine with other stress-reducing pleasures such as a warm bath, soft music, a massage, exercise or reading.
• If you miss the ritual of drinking try replacing it with a fresh juice or sparkling mineral water during your evening meal.
• If your partner enjoys a drink after work, consider asking him to abstain for a time too so you won’t feel deprived.
We don’t really know what a safe level of alcohol consumption is for a pregnant woman – and it’s probably different for every woman because everyone metabolises alcohol differently. So play it safe and steer clear of alcohol – it’s only 9 months of your life and the one chance your baby has of getting off to a good start in theirs!
To find out more about pre natal, post natal, or exercising before or after pregnancy please contact us!