We know alcohol has effects on our body. We feel it immediately, on our brain and mood (and later on our gut and throbbing head!), but what effect does it have on our fertility? What impact does it have on a growing fetus? And exactly how much is safe?
If you’re trying to conceive or are in the early stages of pregnancy, these are very important things to know.
There are many conflicting opinions on this topic and the exact ‘safe’ limit (if there is such a thing) is extremely unclear.
Some research shows one to two drinks a week is completely safe, whilst others say no amount of drinking is ok.
One fact we do know is that alcohol does have a negative effect on fertility and a growing baby, and that any amount of alcohol you consume will be passed onto your baby when pregnant. Whenever you drink, your baby does too. In fact a baby’s blood alcohol level will be at least the same as or higher than the mother’s. It will also stay higher for longer. This is because your tiny baby’s immature digestive system is unable to process alcohol efficiently.
Yet statistics show that 60% of Australian women drink while pregnant, many without realising.
Alarmingly 1 in 5 women continue to drink even when they know they’re pregnant. In Australia, drinking whilst pregnant is the number 1 cause of non-genetic brain damage and 1,300 babies have been born with the condition in the last 6 months. For this reason, a major review has called for warning labels to be put on alcoholic beverages.
Even if you’re not pregnant yet, you’re not immune from the negative impact. Prior to conceiving, alcohol interferes with the production of luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). These hormones play a vital role in ovulation, which is when the egg is release from the ovary. Naturally this must occur for there to be any possibility of conception.
If you do fall pregnant, alcohol intake during the week of conception has been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage and early pregnancy loss.
For these reasons The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that women who are trying to get pregnant or who are pregnant, should not drink at all because a ‘no effect’ level has not been established.
Although the council does suggest that that the risk associated with low-level drinking (such as one or two drinks per week) are likely to be low, they also acknowledge that this suggestion cannot be confirmed due to limitations of existing evidence.
So the fact is, if you’re serious about trying to fall pregnant and carrying a healthy baby, stick with the sparkling water and orange juice.
Do you agree there is a ‘safe’ level or ‘no alcohol’ at all? Please SHARE your thoughts below.