Alcohol and Drugs During Pregnancy

20 Feb

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ALCOHOL

Putting it simply, anything that goes in your mouth goes straight into your blood stream and is passed through the placenta and into your baby! When you think about it like that, it’s like feeding your baby a cider or glass of wine, and that doesn’t sound so sensible does it?

Your baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop and even then it does not fully mature until very late into the pregnancy so your baby can’t process alcohol like you can, and too much exposure to it can seriously harm their development. It is even suggested to limit your alcohol intake before your become pregnant to get it out of your system as much as possible. It can help conception too.

During your pregnancy, it is advised by the NHS to limit your intake to less than 2 units of alcohol per week if any at all. 2 units is equal to a pint of beer or 1 standard size glass of wine. It is absolutely imperative to avoid getting drunk. Getting drunk changes the way you think, you may do things you wouldn’t normally do which could harm the baby. Your vision may become distorted and your balance negatively effected giving you more chance of falling over and harming yourself and your baby.

If too much alcohol is consumed, the baby may face problems associated with FAS – foetal alcohol syndrome. Children with this syndrome can suffer from restricted growth, facial abnormalities, learning and behavioural disorders.

Some tips to avoiding the alcohol 

  • Finding a non alcoholic drink you really like and can drink while your friends are having alcohol.
  • Finding places to go with your friends/other half that don’t involve drinking but you can still have fun.
  • Carry a picture of your scan in your bag when you go out to remind yourself why you are doing this when temptation starts to creep in.

DRUGS

Illegal drugs such as cannabis, ecstacy, cocaine and heroin can have very harmful effects on your unborn child. If you currently use them you need to seek advice on the best way to stop using them. Depending on the frequency of use, it can also be just as harmful to stop abruptly as the withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous too. Talk to a doctor or relevant health professional about the best plan of action for you. Don’t feel embarrassed to tell your doctor about your drug habits, they won’t judge you as they want to help you and this is the time to get it sorted if any. Don’t leave it a second longer.

Some legal medication can be harmful to your baby too and this can include some standard painkillers so it is important you are aware of what you are allowed to take during this time. If you have a long term condition such as underactive thyroid, diabetes, asthma etc just check with your doctor that what you are taking is safe during your pregnancy. The medication to treat these long term conditions can often be fine but it is better to check anyway.

Some medication that IS safe to take during your pregnancy 

  • Paracetemol
  • Most antibiotics
  • Dental treatment
  • Local anaesthetics
  • Some types of vaccinations e.g flu and tetanus
  • Nicotine replacement therapy

The trick is to always ask your doctor if you are unsure. They are more than happy to advise you on your health and I’m sure you would prefer to pester your doctor than to discover that you’ve been taking something you should have been late into your pregnancy!

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