Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or permanent brain damage to the baby. Seeking treatment may prevent a mother from losing her child to alcohol abuse.
Pregnant And Addicted To Alcohol
Everything a woman eats or drinks during pregnancy goes to the baby, and this includes addictive substances like alcohol. When a pregnant mother drinks alcohol, the alcohol passes into the placenta then into the baby’s bloodstream.
Prenatal exposure to alcohol is one of the leading causes of birth defects, abnormalities, and developmental disabilities in the United States. Many experts strongly urge women not to drink alcohol while they’re pregnant. Yet an estimated 8.5 percent of women drink alcohol during pregnancy.
An unborn baby’s liver is too little to process alcohol the way an adult liver does, and he or she may develop serious physical, mood, or developmental problems from prenatal exposure to alcohol.
Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder
An alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic disease characterized by a person’s compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and negative emotional state when not using alcohol. A woman with an AUD may have a hard time quitting use of alcohol, even if she becomes pregnant.
Over five million women suffer from an alcohol use disorder in the United States. Research shows that in 2016, only 6.7 percent of women with an AUD received treatment for it.
Heavy drinking is linked to most cases of fetal alcohol syndrome. Yet heavy drinking may also cause health problems that are unrelated to pregnancy. Alcohol can damage a person’s brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system.
Many women who suffer from alcoholism may not know where to turn to for help. An alcohol treatment program may help a pregnant woman overcome alcohol and save the life of her child in process.
Risks Of Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy
Alcohol may cause developmental, behavioral, and psychological defects in babies. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the chance that a baby will be born with cerebral palsy or prematurely.
According to the National Library of Medicine, women are at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder during their reproductive years (18-44). In the reproductive age range, binge drinking is believed to be one of the leading causes of birth defects.
Binge drinking for a woman equals four drinks in two hours, or an approximate blood alcohol concentration of .08. Binge drinking can lead to an incredibly high BAC for a baby who’s still in the womb, and can dramatically change the life of that baby.
The developmental risks of drinking during pregnancy include:
- fetal alcohol syndrome
- poor coordination
- hyperactive behavior
- difficulty with attention
- vision difficulties
- hearing problems
- poor memory
- learning disabilities
- speech and language delays
- learning disability
- poor reasoning and judgment skills
- sleep and sucking problems as a baby
“Women who are pregnant or might be pregnant should be aware that there is no known safe level of alcohol that can be consumed at any time during pregnancy. All types of alcohol should be avoided, including red or white wine, beer, and liquor,” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
What Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
Fetal alcohol syndrome, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a condition in which alcohol causes brain damage, developmental issues, behavioral problems, and growth problems in unborn babies. FASD may occur when a woman drinks an excessive amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
Babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome may have distinctive facial features, such as smaller than normal eyes, upper lip, and nose. Each pregnancy is different, and the severity of fetal alcohol syndrome may vary as well.
No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. The more a woman drinks during pregnancy, the greater the risk becomes of the baby suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. The behavioral signs of fetal alcohol syndrome aren’t always as obvious as some of the physical signs.
The physical signs of fetal alcohol syndrome may include:
- slow physical growth before and after birth
- smaller than normal facial features, such as eyes, nose, and lips
- small head circumference and brain size
- misshapen joints, limbs, and fingers
- problems with kidneys and bones
- heart defects
Seeking help can be crucial for women who are considering having a baby but believe they’re addicted to alcohol. For women who are pregnant and looking to quit using alcohol, there is hope at an alcohol treatment center.
How To Safely Detox While Pregnant
An alcohol addiction (alcoholism) can make people feel as though alcohol is as important for survival as air, food, or water. Many people with an alcohol addiction experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms when they quit using alcohol. Withdrawals can be uncomfortable, painful, and very dangerous to manage alone.
A medical detox provides a place to manage withdrawal symptoms, while on a regimen of vitamins, proper nutrition, and rest. Detoxification may not be easy, but it can be essential for pregnant women in recovery.
When a woman is in detoxification from alcohol, she might be ridding her body of years of alcohol abuse and unwanted toxins. The multidisciplinary team at a medical detox center is trained to help pregnant women safely wean off alcohol while focusing on what’s best for themselves and their babies.
Alcohol Treatment Programs For Pregnant Women
After a medical detox, many people are still left with the behavioral, environmental, psychological, and genetic issues that may have led to alcohol abuse in the first place. Each area of addiction needs to be addressed with the same amount of importance.
The professionals at an alcohol treatment center offer comprehensive care and the kindness and support needed to recover from alcohol addiction. With the right treatment program, a woman can learn to live a better life for herself and her baby.
Alcohol doesn’t need to affect your baby’s life. Contact AlcoholTreatment.net for help.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Alcohol Use Disorders