Pregnancy and Alcohol don’t Mix
Guest Blog Submitted by The Calgary Fetal Alcohol Network
Alcohol and pregnancy – it’s a bit of a touchy subject, conversations about which can be filled with misinformation and maybe a hint of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality. With all kinds of conflicting information just a mouse-click away, it may not be a surprise that more than 10 per cent of women surveyed by the Public Health Agency of Canada reported using alcohol during their last pregnancy and that a growing number of women believe it’s okay to consume moderate amounts of alcohol while pregnant.
Yet, international medical consensus remains unchanged: No alcohol is safest during pregnancy. There simply are no low-risk thresholds for alcohol intake by expectant mothers.
A number of risks are associated with drinking during pregnancy, the best-known of which is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) which refers to a range of brain injuries resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol, including developmental, physical, learning and behavioural disabilities.
The most common developmental disability in North America, FASD affects at least nine out of every 1,000 babies born in Canada. Symptoms are life-long and can include learning and memory difficulties, speech and language problems, impulsive behaviour, social difficulties, sensory difficulties and, in some cases, physical problems.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
FASD is 100% preventable through abstinence from alcohol, but it’s not always that straightforward. Prenatal alcohol exposure happens for a variety of reasons, including unplanned pregnancy (up to 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned) lack of information, mental health concerns and addiction.
In all cases, knowledge, education and healthy support systems are key to successful prevention efforts. Caring partners, friends and trusted service providers, like doctors or even hair dressers, are perfectly situated to support the women in their lives to have the healthiest pregnancies possible.
Here are some ways that partners/friends can support an expectant mom:
- Talk openly about how to achieve a healthy pregnancy, including abstinence from alcohol
- Show solidarity by reducing or eliminating your own alcohol intake during her pregnancy
- Take the initiative to plan social events and activities that don’t involve alcohol. So much of our social lives involve alcohol, and moms-to-be can easily feel left out from the fun.
- Know where to find help if your partner/friend is struggling with giving up alcohol or making other important lifestyle changes during her pregnancy.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Need more information on alcohol and pregnancy, FASD, supports and other resources? The Calgary Fetal Alcohol Network is a non-profit society that engages and mobilizes the community toward a healthy response to the issue of FASD. Visit www.calgaryfetalalcoholnetwork.com to learn more about the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure, FASD, diagnosis, supports for individuals, families, professionals and more.