Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy, How It Impacts You and Your Child

Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy, How It Impacts You and Your Child

For many expectant mothers, alcohol is known to be forbidden during pregnancy due to its wholly negative effects on the mother and the unborn child. After all, there are many consequences related to the health of both mother and baby that alcohol abuse can either cause or exacerbate. Medical conditions that occur this way cannot be easily remedied and often lead to life-long problems for the as-yet unborn child which rise to negligence by the mother. However, one of the less talked about consequences of alcohol abuse during pregnancy is an expectant mother getting behind the wheel and being stopped by an officer for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). If that should occur, you should quickly consult a DUI attorney who can examine the facts of the case.

Warning signs of a pregnant woman who abuses alcohol

More often than not, pregnant women who abuse alcohol before and during their pregnancy will not readily admit that they do so. There are some warning signs that indicate this is occurring even if a pregnant woman is attempting to hide the fact that she drinks. Friends and family who notice the following warning signs may be compelled to stage an intervention. Before doing so, they should consult professionals such as a doctor or other trusted individual in order to properly help counsel the pregnant woman, so she does not do any further damage to the fetus she is carrying.

Avoiding prenatal appointments and nutrients

Oftentimes, one of the biggest warning signs of a pregnant woman abusing alcohol is a refusal to get prenatal care or attend regularly scheduled doctors appointments. In addition to that, a reluctance to get needed nutrients is another warning sign. Often women engaging in this type of risky behavior will be afraid of the legal consequences of their actions and believe by avoiding medical professionals, they will be able to avoid detection altogether.

Dismissing evidence regarding negative effects of alcoholism during pregnancy

Sometimes, pregnant mothers who drink during pregnancy will justify their actions by dismissing the voluminous research on the effects of alcoholism and any amount of alcohol on the fetus. They use anecdotal evidence to justify their claims of “small amounts” being safe without specifying what amount that is and where they obtained their evidence. Notwithstanding, they may also argue that their child will be the one to beat the evidence and have no negative effects.

Increased isolation and aggressive or aggrieved emotional state

Not eager to have friends, family, or co-workers pick up on their drinking, women who are abusing alcohol during pregnancy may find more and more excuses to avoid social interactions, regular meetings or other moments when they can be observed. They may take to being veritable shut-ins who claim the pregnancy is too difficult for them to go out in public. This, coupled with an emotional state which can include increased anger and moodiness for no reason or beyond what would be expected in a normal pregnancy.

Consequences of alcohol abuse during pregnancy

Every reputable medical expert or doctor will quickly inform any pregnant woman that alcohol abuse during the nine or so months they are carrying a child is phenomenally bad medically. One of the most dangerous times for inadvertent alcohol consumption during pregnancy is before the woman even realizes she is pregnant. Even social drinkers can imbibe dangerous amounts of alcohol before they take pro-active steps to get adequate neo-natal care. The risks associated with this consumption of alcohol, in any amount, are miscarriage, a stillborn baby, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, premature birth, or other birth defects.

Miscarriage and Stillborn Fetuses

A factor in a not insubstantial number of miscarriages and stillborn fetuses is alcohol abuse. Miscarriages occur when the fetus the mother is carrying dies 20 weeks or earlier in the pregnancy. After 20 weeks, the death of a fetus is classified as stillborn. No matter the manner of death, this occurrence often causes the mother severe physical and mental pain during the event itself and for months following it.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The myriad of problems a woman causes to her unborn child if she drinks during pregnancy can be classified under Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, an umbrella term that encapsulates the short and long-term consequences of this action. Many of these disorders relate to reduced capacity in mental abilities, emotional states, or communicating needs and wants to others. They can also potentially and very likely hinder the completion of necessary tasks either in the child’s day to day life or, later, in an academic or professional setting.

Premature birth

Premature birth occurs when a fetus is born before 37 weeks of gestation occurs. Needless to point out, alcohol abuse makes this a more likely occurrence which can have severely negative consequences for the child. Premature birth can cause developmental issues in the child over a lifetime in addition to increasing the chances of dying shortly after birth. Children who are born prematurely may also require additional care before they reach their adult years.

Birth Defects

Alcohol abuse has been shown to increase the likelihood of birth defects in children. These birth defects can range from cardiac issues to club foot or other maladies. Cure or treatment for birth defects is sometimes possible but there are other conditions which will be lifelong issues for a child born to a mother who drank alcohol during the pregnancy.

Legal Liabilities

Given the widespread and readily available evidence regarding the negative effects of alcohol on the development of a fetus, women who engage in this behavior may be more likely to engage in other reckless behaviors. For example, a pregnant woman who has been drinking may not wish to call a friend, taxi, or rideshare app for fear of being reported to the police. Thus, she will get behind the wheel of a car and may get pulled over. If over the legal limit, an officer will likely charge her for a DWI or DUI. In that case, she will need to engage the services of a DWI lawyer or DUI attorney who can adequately represent her. Any DUI defense will need to be well-coordinated to help beat back any allegations by the state.

Avoiding Alcohol While Pregnant

The only guaranteed way to avoid any of the negative consequences listed above is to completely avoid alcohol during pregnancy. No amount, no matter how small, is safe for a pregnant woman or a developing fetus. Medical problems such as a miscarriage, stillborn baby, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, birth defects or other maladies can not just occur but are likely consequences of alcohol abuse. Other consequences, such as potential legal issues requiring a DWI lawyer or DUI attorney, may follow. Ensuring a healthy pregnancy should be a potential mother’s top priority thus avoiding alcohol should be on top on the list of behaviors to strictly avoid any time she intends to get pregnant or is pregnant.

Featured image credit: Brett L / flickr