Alcohol passes through the placenta and can harm the unborn baby. Among other things, alcohol can negatively affect the baby's growth and brain development. It is recommended to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy.
The placenta transports nutrition, oxygen and water to the baby throughout the pregnancy. Although the placenta acts as a barrier that prevents toxins from the mother's blood from reaching the baby, it does not block everything.
Here you can find advice about other foods you should avoid during pregnancy.
Anything the pregnant mother drinks, the unborn baby drinks too
Remember that nicotine, alcohol and drugs in full concentration are passed on to the unborn baby. An unborn baby is far more sensitive to alcohol than an adult. Because the baby's liver is underdeveloped, it has difficulty metabolising alcohol, thus increasing the time the baby is exposed to the alcohol.
Avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy, as it can harm the baby
Heavy drinking during pregnancy almost always harms the baby in some way. Because it has not been documented how much a pregnant woman can drink without harming the baby, the general recommendation is to abstain completely from alcohol during pregnancy.
If you having problems, help is available. It's never too late to give up drinking. It may help to understand the risks and know that professional help is available.
Alcohol damage in children
Common forms of alcohol damage in children include malformations, low birth weight, small head size and, later on, learning difficulties. Alcohol can also damage the developing nerve cells in the brain. This can affect the child's behaviour and development, causing hyperactivity and concentration problems. Alcohol can also affect the baby's appearance, sight and memory.
If you drank alcohol before finding out you were pregnant
Of course, you might have drunk alcohol before knowing you were pregnant. If you only drank a little on one or two occasions, this is unlikely to have harmed the foetus.
If you still feel worried, contact your obstetrics department for advice. The most important thing is to avoid alcohol for the rest of the pregnancy.
Are you pregnant and in need of help or information?
You can contact your local obstetrics department to discuss or ask for advice about your alcohol habits. There's no need to feel worried or ashamed talking about it. Your midwife is used to answering questions about this subject. It is her job to provide support regarding all aspects of pregnancy.
If you need professional help to give up drinking, your midwife can direct you to the right place. There may be a special clinic near you for women with alcohol or drug problems.
You can also speak to a doctor at a primary healthcare centre.