Drinking during pregnancy is a huge NO, no matter what stage of pregnancy you are in. Alcohol causes harm to your unborn baby, and can cause them to have lifelong physical and mental problems.
If you are planning on getting pregnant it is best to avoid alcohol. But if you didn’t know for the first few weeks and have had a few drinks in this time, while this isn’t ideal it is somewhat common and shouldn’t cause you to panic. However, when you know you are pregnant, stop drinking.
The consequences of drinking while pregnant
If you drink while pregnant, alcohol passes through your umbilical cord to your baby. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking can cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as a range of physical, behavioural and intellectual problems. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Fetal Alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most severe among the range of FASDs.
Kids born with FASD can be born prematurely with birth defects such as a smaller head, low body weight, deformities in their facial features and problems with their joints and heart. Growing up they can have issues with coordination, memory retention, attention, vision and hearing as well as intellectual disabilities. Some kids are born with problems that are only noticed when they go to school, when learning issues become apparent. There is no cure for FASD and FAS.
Every pregnancy is different, some moms drink very little and their kids end up with severe health problems, whereas others report drinking more and have children with very few problems. If you are struggling to stop drinking it is best to seek professional help
South Africa has the highest prevalence of FAS globally, 14 times higher than the global average. There are a number of local NGOs who focus their efforts on spreading awareness around the condition and programs which speak to pregnant mothers about drinking.