When you’re pregnant, everyone has advice – some better than others. The most informed guidance will come from healthcare providers, and they’ll likely suggest the most important first step for an expectant mother is becoming drug and alcohol-free.
Most people understand that illegal drugs negatively impact our bodies, and that those effects could trickle down to an unborn baby, but risks associated with alcohol may not be as obvious. After all, consuming alcohol is legal for people 21 and older…even pregnant women. But legal isn’t the same as wise, or responsible.
Research conclusively shows that consuming alcohol during pregnancy can cause abnormal fetal development, birth defects, premature birth and more. One of the greatest risks is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a condition that causes brain damage and growth problems that last a lifetime.
Babies with FAS may suffer from vision, hearing and central nervous system problems. They may also have head and facial abnormalities, heart and kidney issues, and joint, limb and finger deformities. Later in life, people born with FAS often contend with a variety of social and behavioral issues, ranging from trouble staying on task to difficulty getting along with others.
The only way to be 100% certain your child will not develop FAS is by not consuming alcohol at all during your pregnancy. While you may hear some people suggest moderate alcohol intake during pregnancy is harmless, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “there is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.”
It’s also important to note that there is no safe time to drink alcohol during your pregnancy. Your baby’s brain, heart and tissues start developing very early, potentially before you even know you’re pregnant, and they continue developing throughout your pregnancy. Introducing alcohol at any stage could cause damage. That’s why it’s essential to immediately find out for sure if you have any reason to suspect you may be pregnant.
At Sira in Gainesville, we offer free medical pregnancy testing and limited ultrasounds, so you’ll know without a doubt if you’re pregnant. And, if you need assistance to stop drinking alcohol during your pregnancy, we can connect you with the right community resources to help you along the way.