Alcohol During Pregnancy – Effects, Risks and When to Stop it

6 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Alcohol During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the most precious, yet delicate phase of any woman’s life. Every woman wants to have a healthy baby and takes all kinds of precautions during pregnancy. If you are planning for a baby or are already pregnant and thinking of a little glass of wine or a can of beer, please go through this article before it. A little bit of carelessness can cause severe damage to you and your unborn child. This article discusses the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy.

Alcohol is not at all recommended during pregnancy. It can cause mild to severe problems in your child and the effect can stay lifelong. Not only the maternal consumption of alcohol but also the drinking habit of the father have a severe influence on the baby’s health. Here we are going to illuminate the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, whether there is any safe quantity to consume or any specific time to drink safely, and how paternal drinking affects the baby’s health. Stay with us.

In This Article

Is Alcohol During Pregnancy Safe?

It is not safe to consume alcohol during pregnancy. There is no safe limit on how much you can consume either. The problem with consuming alcohol while you are pregnant is that there is no safe amount proven or defined. To date, no robust research reports are available that reveal the potential effects of alcohol consumption at any specific time of pregnancy or the amount of consumption that can be considered safe. Every woman has a different level of enzymes that help to break down alcohol. And that’s why it is very difficult to predict the results of drinking alcohol in pregnant women.

Due to so many unknown facts, medical experts advise to stay away from alcohol during pregnancy. It is obvious that heavy drinking is harmful to the unborn, but there is also no clear data about the risks of light or moderate consumption. Moreover, along with the amount you consume, frequency is also an important factor. Even if you are not an occasional drinker, one time consumption in large amounts can cause harm to your unborn baby. With the increase in frequency, you will raise the risk to your baby’s health.

What Are the Dangers of Alcohol During Pregnancy?

Dangers of Alcohol on pregnant women

Alcohol is not at all good for the would-be mother and the unborn baby. The medical problems due to this stay lifelong and the impact can be mild to severe. If the would-be mother consumes alcohol, it can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in their unborn. This term refers to the range of effects caused by alcohol consumption.

The fetus gets all the essential nutrients from the mother and the consumed alcohol by the mother can transfer to the baby’s blood. At the early stage, babies’ growth is faster and at this developmental stage, the effect of alcohol is fatal. As per the study of NCBI, alcohol is neurotoxic to the brain and there is a high chance of severe neuro-related disorder in babies. The behavioral issues in children suffering from FASD start at an early stage and become severe as they move towards adulthood.

The major effects caused by maternal alcohol consumption include

  • Speech and language delay
  • Abnormal facial features. Small head, flat face, and a narrow eye opening are some of the evident problems.
  • Growth problems. Children who are exposed to maternal alcohol consumption before their birth, are generally smaller and have weaker features than kids of the same age group.
  • Learning and behavioral and attention-related issues. Kids with FASD depict abnormal behaviors and are low in learning power.
  • Feeding issues. Face problem during feeding and bonding as a newborn.
  • Some children have severe heart problems
  • Problem with movement and balance. Along with slower growth, they face difficulties in standing, walking, and movement due to neurological issues.
  • Poor muscle tone.

Often infants may have complications like

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Premature delivery
  • Stillbirth or pregnancy loss

[Read : 10 Easy And Healthy Drinks During Pregnancy]

What Are the Effects of Paternal Drinking on a Baby’s Health?

Not only the mother’s lifestyle but also the father’s lifestyle can have unexpected impacts on the child’s health. The effect of paternal alcohol exposure is severe and affects fetal development. There is a direct connection through the male sperm or gonads. NCBI studies indicate that the offspring of an alcoholic father carries a behavioral problem, low intellectual skills, neuro, and hormonal disorder, etc. Children of alcoholic fathers show impaired cognitive skills and are generally hyperactive than the same-aged kids of non-alcoholic parents. The same study also revealed that the son of an alcoholic father has abnormal electrical activities in the brain. Some other critical issues that occur due to paternal exposure to alcohol are

  • Lower weight after birth
  • Reduction in brain size
  • Heart disease

So, it is now clear for fathers-to-be to put down the bottles for the health of their children.

[Read : A Healthy Lifestyle Can Help Prevent Birth Defects]

When is the Right Time to Stop Alcohol When You Are Pregnant?

pregnant women doing yoga

It is never too late to stop drinking alcohol. This is a neurotoxin and hits the brain cells adversely. It is always recommended to stop drinking if you are planning to have a baby. Whenever you come to know that you are pregnant, stop consuming a single drop of alcohol. The brain development of your baby takes place throughout the pregnancy, and it is always better to avoid passing alcohol onto your unborn child’s blood. If you consume any amount of alcohol during your pregnancy, it is better to discuss it with your doctor. This can help to initiate prenatal checkups and avoid future complications. In fact, if you are planning for a baby, ideally you should avoid alcohol atleast three months before you plan to try. This will help avoid all unnecessary complications.

Consult your doctor and ask for support. Try to develop some strategies to quit alcohol. Here are some basic tips that can help you to stop drinking.

  • Avoid drinking at a social gathering. Politely ask people not to offer you a drink. Have a glass of flavored water instead.
  • Hang out with non-alcoholic people at any social gathering. This can help you to reduce your craving for alcohol.
  • Avoid places like bars and clubs.
  • Quit smoking as well. Smoking often increases your craving for drinking.
  • Start some healthy habits like morning yoga, meditation, morning or evening walks. These rejuvenating activities can do miracles.
  • Keep stress away from your mind.

Now it is clear that if you are planning for a healthy baby, you need to stay away from alcohol. There are numerous issues caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. There is no specific data on whether there is any safe limit or good time to drink. Not only would-be-moms but also the fathers-to-be should keep the bottle down as they are equally responsible for their healthy baby.

[Read : Why Passive Smoking is Dangerous For Your Child]


1. What if I Drink Only Beer and Wine Coolers?

Any kind of alcohol consumption can affect your baby’s growth and healthy development. Alcohol consumption by wanna-be moms is a cause of FASD. Beer and wine also have alcohol in them which goes into the baby’s blood if you drink it in whatever amount.

2. Is it Fine if I Drink Very Little on Some Occasions?

There is no study available about the safe amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The amount of alcohol present in your blood transmits to your baby and whatever amount it is, it’s going to harm your unborn child. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) can be avoided if you stay away from alcohol before and during pregnancy.

3. Is it Harmful to the Unborn Baby if the Father is an Alcoholic?

Paternal drinking can also adversely affect the child’s health. The sperm of an alcoholic father can cause some major behavioral and intellectual disorders in the baby. There are some other effects like low weight, smaller brain size, etc.

Read Also: Red Wine During Pregnancy – Benefits, Effects, Is it Safe?

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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