Can I Drink Any Amount of Alcohol While I’m Pregnant?

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You that you’re supposed to avoid alcohol throughout your pregnancy. But you’re not sure if this means you need to remain completely abstinent. For example, can you have an occasional glass of wine? Will one beer be dangerous for your child? Is it safe to drink even a little bit of alcohol when you’re pregnant?

Is Drinking Any Amount of Alcohol While Pregnant Safe?

Let’s not leave any room for doubt: Drinking alcohol while pregnant is simply not safe. Any amount of alcohol that a pregnant person consumes can threaten the healthy development of their fetus. 

If you spend enough time online, you can find someone who will tell you it’s OK to drink moderate amounts of alcohol while you’re pregnant. Please know that this contradicts the health advice that is offered by respected experts in the United States and throughout the rest of the world.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) are just a few of the many reputable sources that strongly advise against drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Dangers of Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant

When someone drinks alcohol while pregnant, they can expose their unborn child to significant harm. In some cases, alcohol use during pregnancy can even be fatal.

According to the NIAAA, drinking alcohol while pregnant has been linked to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Using alcohol while you are pregnant can also elevate the baby’s risk for challenges such as the following:

  • Low birth weight
  • Vision and hearing difficulties
  • Learning disabilities
  • Delayed cognitive development
  • Diminished ability to focus and pay attention
  • Behavior and socialization problems
  • Greater likelihood of substance abuse later in life

The difficulties listed above are all part of a condition that’s known as fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Additionally, some babies and children may have one or two of these concerns, while others may have all of them (plus additional ones that aren’t listed here). 

The point is, if you drink alcohol while pregnant, the effects on your child can vary widely – and you may not become aware of the full scope of the harm they have experienced for many years.

The CDC has noted that alcohol use while pregnant can also lead to the following:

  • Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND): Effects of this disorder include problems with behavior, learning, memory, judgment, and impulse control.
  • Alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD): This can include hearing impairments as well as damage to the heart, kidneys, and/or bones.
  • Neurobehavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure (ND-PAE): Children who have this disorder may exhibit symptoms such as severe tantrums, memory problems, and an inability to perform basic tasks such as dressing themselves appropriately and bathing.
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS): FAS is a serious condition that can include problems with the central nervous system, facial differences, inhibited growth, and difficulties with learning, memory, and communication.

The baby isn’t the only one who is at risk for both immediate and long-term harm when someone drinks alcohol while pregnant. Alcohol abuse can also endanger the pregnant person’s health and well-being. 

Alcohol abuse has been linked to myriad physical, psychological, and social concerns, including the following:

  • Damage to the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys
  • Physical harm due to slips, falls, and other alcohol-related accidents
  • Legal problems due to driving while intoxicated and other impaired behaviors
  • Strained or ruined relationships with friends, family members, and romantic partners
  • Substandard performance in school and on the job
  • Difficulty finding and keeping a job
  • Addiction
  • Development or worsening of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Self-harm and thoughts of suicide

What if I Can’t Stop Drinking Alcohol?

If you can’t stop drinking, you may have developed alcohol use disorder. This is the clinical term for alcohol addiction or alcoholism. 

Alcohol use disorder can be a devastating condition, but it is treatable. With effective professional care, you can regain control of your behaviors, resist the urge to drink, and learn to live a healthier life without abusing alcohol.

Depending on the severity of your alcohol addiction, you may need to begin treatment in a detoxification, or detox, program. Alcohol withdrawal can be both painful and dangerous. When you enter a detox program, you will be cared for by experienced professionals who can help you rid your body of alcohol safely and with minimal distress.

Once you have completed detox, you can transfer to the next phase of treatment. After assessing your needs, your treatment team may recommend one or more of the following options:

  • Residential treatment
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
  • Outpatient rehab

Please understand that there is no single universal path to long-term recovery that works for everyone. When you’re seeking detox or another service to help you avoid the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant, what’s most important is finding the provider whose programming aligns with your needs, preferences, and expectations. 

Any reputable alcohol addiction treatment center should be happy to answer all your questions about treatment and recovery, so that you can make the most informed decisions about your health. At Renewal Health Group, our commitment to superior client services begins with your first phone call. If you’re not sure what services are right for you, we can help you decide.

Safely Detox From Alcohol in Los Angeles, California

Renewal Health Group offers alcohol detoxification and an array of additional addiction treatment services for adults in the Los Angeles, California, area. If the overwhelming compulsion to abuse alcohol has derailed your life, the Renewal team is here to help. With the guidance and support of our compassionate professionals, you can end your alcohol abuse and start living the healthier life you deserve. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and services.

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