What Happens When You Drink While Pregnant

Alcohol and Pregnancy: A Risky Combination

It is now commonly understood that drinking while pregnant is one of the worst things that a mother can do to her unborn child. The number of complications that can arise due to alcohol consumption is astounding and as such many mothers abstain from any form of adult drink while pregnant.

However, the wider population has not always known this information, because medical science had not advanced to the point where they correlated causation between drinking and prenatal issues. For many years before this information was discovered, mothers would have no problem drinking while pregnant and complications like fetal alcohol syndrome and other such problems would arise.

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Drinking while pregnant was such an issue for a period of time in places like Ireland, which still has one of the highest instances of fetal alcohol syndrome in the world, that it is believed by some scholars that the origin of the Leprechaun myth is rooted in fetal alcohol syndrome throughout the population.

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is now known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is a group of conditions that arise when a mother continues drinking while pregnant. How severe the problems that occur depend on how much alcohol was consumed during the pregnancy, but most of the babies that are afflicted with these disorders suffer from abnormal appearances, short height, low body weight, a small head, poor coordination, lowered IQ, behavioral problems, and vision and auditory problems.

As astounding as it may be that a disorder like this still exists, with all that we know about drinking while pregnant, it is estimated that 20-30% of all mothers drink at some point during their pregnancy and that 4.7% of North American women who are pregnant are alcoholic.

What Else Can Occur When Drinking While Pregnant?

Alcohol Syndrome While Pregnant

One of the more severe issues that can arise due to alcohol consumption during pregnancy is a miscarriage. Research has shown that women, who drink consistently throughout their pregnancy, run a higher risk of having a miscarriage than those that abstain. With that said, and even though it may not cause a miscarriage, drinking at all during pregnancy can affect the fetus, because the alcohol travels from the mother’s bloodstream to the child’s.

Besides this, and not particularly common, a mother who is an alcoholic can, in fact, give birth to a baby that is dependent on alcohol, which is incredibly dangerous for the infant. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be fatal for a full-grown adult and are only able to be treated with powerful narcotics that help to stop seizures and Delirium Tremens. Unfortunately, many of these drugs cannot be administered to a newborn child, so this puts them in a medically precarious situation that could lead to death.

Why Do Women Drink While Pregnant?

To someone who does not suffer from alcoholism it doesn’t really make sense that a mother would put their unborn child at risk just to have a few drinks, but to anyone who understands alcoholism, this is just par for the course. The thing of it is that an alcoholic mother may have every intention of not drinking during their pregnancy, in fact, they more than likely do not want to drink, but when it comes to alcoholism not wanting to drink does not equate actually finding sobriety.

The obsession that overtakes an alcoholic is not something that is easily battled and cannot be battled alone, so when an alcoholic woman finds out she is pregnant, if she does not seek help immediately for her alcoholism, the chances that she will drink during her pregnancy are fairly good.

There are some cases where the alcoholic mother-to-be may even be unaware that she is an alcoholic. She may just believe that she drinks too much from time to time and so she feels that now that she has a good enough reason to stop she will be able to.

Cases like this are hard because it is basically impossible to make the individual see that they are an alcoholic until they are ready to see it themselves. What this means, is that she may be able to stop drinking for a period of time during her pregnancy, but if she is an alcoholic, she will more than likely fall back into her old ways when the urges come.

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With everything listed above, about the complications that can arise from consuming alcohol during pregnancy, it is imperative that you seek professional medical help if you are newly pregnant and have an issue with alcohol. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you have an issue with alcohol, as there are millions of people around the world who suffer from the same illness as you. Reach out today for help, so that you can have the best pregnancy possible.

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