One of the most dangerous things that a pregnant woman can do is to overindulge in alcohol during pregnancy. In fact, most medical practitioners recommend against consuming any alcohol whatsoever while you’re pregnant.
But, what should you do if you have a surprise pregnancy and may have consumed alcohol during those first few weeks before you knew you were pregnant?
Alcohol and your baby
The first and most important thing you can do is to stop drinking once you find out you’re pregnant. Without going into all of the details, that alcohol can pass through the placenta to your baby and cause a wide range of problems, including:
- Low birth weight
- Vision problems
- Mood disorders
- Developmental problems
- Joint damage
- Facial abnormalities
- Cleft palate
- Deformities of the internal organs
- Heart defects
- Brain damage
In addition to the above ailments, drinking during pregnancy will put your baby at risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a combination of physical and mental birth defects that will affect around 6% of babies of women who are alcoholic or binge drink during pregnancy.
Babies that have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are born abnormally small and typically are not able to catch up on growth as they get older. They sometimes have small eyes, they may have a short nose or an upturned nose and small, flat cheeks. The organs of babies born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, especially the heart, may not form properly. Many babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome will have a brain that is small and abnormally formed, and most have some degree of mental disability. Many have poor coordination and a short attention span and exhibit behavioral problems.
In short, your first order of business is to stop consuming alcohol.
Talking to your doctor
If you drank heavily or regularly during those first weeks before you knew you were pregnant, you’ll want to communicate that information to your doctor. That will help to put her on the lookout for various birth defects and other problems that can be caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
If you consumed just a few drinks prior to realizing you were pregnant, the odds that it will have caused any problems for your baby are much lower. Still, it’s worth communicating that to your doctor, as well.