I have had much to do with this issue recently. I am aware of the effects, the guidance and the common sense. Having never been pregnant, I have no idea how I would have reacted to drinking alcohol if I was pregnant, but what I do know is, that it is worrying when someone who is 7 months pregnant tells you to lay off when you query how much they are drinking, and tells you that if they drink 10 alcopops a day, that it is nobody else’s business, because it is “their” body. You do begin to wonder where the rights and wrongs of the legal status of the new baby to come really are.
Do you know how much alcohol is too much when you are pregnant?
Do you know how you would live with a child who has either foetal alcohol effect, or foetal alcohol syndrome?
Would you be able to control the situation, or would you wash your hands and walk away?
WHAT IS FOETAL ALCOHOL?
It is not just any one disorder, but it has a spectrum of degree, similar to autism, in the depth of severity. The syndrome itself will usually show facial abnormalities, failure to catch up with their peers, and mental problems with learning difficulties and impulsiveness.
The effect, is a milder form of the disease, however just as difficult to live with, and may or may not have facial deformities. It is said to be the most common reason for mental and behavioural problems with children, however, that can never be proven.
Babies with foetal alcohol can be delayed, cry excessively, have weak grasp with trouble sucking and feeding. Brain damage can even lead to epilepsy.
Approximately 70% of FAS children have very severe hyperactivity and often poor behaviour, head banging, rolling, or rocking. It is possible that they could also be diagnosed with ADHD, or Attachment Disorder, or actually a few other things - when we are really talking about foetal alcohol effect. There are so many disorders that “could” be attributed to similar symptoms.
IS YOUR BABY AT RISK?
Usually, the more alcohol that is drunk, the higher the risk of damage. What that does not take into account is the genetic, or predisposition to the possibility.
Women tend to keep prolonged alcohol use secret, and it is difficult to get help if nobody knows that someone drinks. It is hard to say if a few drinks, or a few binges will affect any one child growing in the womb.
My point is, why take the risk of learning difficulties, behavioural issues, deformities and the life struggle that it brings, when it is easy to take the possibility out of the equation by simply not drinking?
I have spent much time with foetal alcohol children. Did you know that any alcohol that is drunk, passes easily to the foetus, and every growing baby is at risk as their liver is not able to absorb the toxins.
I have not put any guidelines down, as they change frequently. The only thing that people can be sure of, is that you don’t know how much alcohol will affect any one baby. All parents of special needs children worry that it is something that they did that caused the disabilities, so why people take the risk of being able to flog themselves for life with the possibility they caused a disability is beyond me.
There is nothing anyone can do about a session of hard drinking before they know they are pregnant, but surely, once people know they are pregnant, it is silly to keep on going and taking the risk.
How many people live with the “it won’t happen to us” motto?