How much alcohol can my partner consume during her pregnancy?
Most health experts tend to have a very cautious approach when advice on using alcohol during pregnancy. The standard response is to recommend that a pregnant woman should refrain from all alcohol consumption for the duration of the pregnancy.
The truth is that nobody really knows how much or how little alcohol can be consumed before it has an effect on the fetus. Besides, everyone metabolizes alcohol at different rates. What is known as fact is that there are some serious problems that can arise if certain levels of alcohol are taken on a regular basis by a pregnant woman(see below).
The current guidelines in most countries suggest that a maximum of one unit per day be consumed.
How do you measure a unit of alcohol
One unit of alcohol can be measured by:
- A half pint (25cl) of beer, lager or cider
- A small glass of wine or sherry
- A single small measure of spirit or liquor
What effect can alcohol consumption have on the baby?
When an alcoholic drink is taken by a pregnant woman, it gets into the baby's bloodstream very quickly through the placenta.
What is known for sure is that women who drink more than 4 or 5 units per day, throughout the pregnancy, put their child at very high risk of developing Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) or more seriously Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
Foetal Alcohol Effect (FAE) babies often have many problems with attention span, learning in general, hyperactivity and speech problems.
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) babies can suffer in varying degrees from growth problems, mental retardation, heart defects, small head or facial distortions and serious behavioral problems.
Furthermore, some studies suggest that even moderate daily consumption of alcohol can cause more chance of miscarriage, shorter gestational period and even facial abnormalities in the baby.
Many women are lucky enough to have a complete revulsion for all alcohol during pregnancy. This is caused by the hormone shifts in her body creating big changes in taste and smell.
Quite simply, moderation is key to keeping the baby safe. Try not to rebuke your partner if she wants a little drink every so often and certainly don't badger her every time she has a glass of wine or champagne as this will only lead to further stress for her which could easily be more dangerous for the baby than one or two glasses of beer. Getting a little tipsy at an occasional party is probably OK so long as she was used to drinking before the pregnancy and can metabolize alcohol quickly. Getting drunk is definitely not a good idea. Drinking on a daily basis should stop.
As for us men... getting drunk each night doesn't exactly provide much comfort to your partner while she is abstaining from alcohol, so perhaps a little restraint would show strong support for her and be a big golden star in the positives column for you.