Studies have not been able to determine exactly how much alcohol can harm a developing baby. Some experts recommend that pregnant women steer clear of alcohol altogether. Other authorities recommend that pregnant moms limit their alcohol intake to 1 or 2 drinks 1 or 2 times a week. Because every woman’s body is different and therefore metabolizes alcohol differently, we cannot predict with any amount of accuracy how alcohol will affect your developing baby.
Scientists do know that drinking on a regular basis can greatly affect a developing baby. Women who drink over six units of alcohol per day run a great risk of having a baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can result in mental and growth retardation, behavior problems, and facial and heart defects. Some studies have shown that babies of women who drink more than 2 glasses of alcohol per day throughout their pregnancy are more likely to have problems with learning speech, attention span, language and hyperactivity.
Researchers don’t know what a few drinks over a short period early in pregnancy can do to a developing child. But the experts agree that caution is the wisest course once you know you’re pregnant. At that point it’s best to cut down on alcohol consumption or stop altogether. It may be better yet to give up drinking before getting pregnant. But if you didn’t, try not to worry. Thousands of women have had a drink or two before they knew they were pregnant and their babies have been fine.
If you typically use a glass of wine to relax, try experimenting by replacing a glass of beer or wine with other stress-reducing pleasures such as a warm bath, soft music, a massage, exercise, or reading. If you miss the ritual of drinking, try replacing that Bloody Mary with a virgin variety, or switch to a non-alcoholic beer or wine during your evening meal.