Debate continues as to what, if any, is safe alcohol drinking during pregnancy. The World Health Organization (WHO) policy, supported by many nations, urges upon people a recommendation that there be no alcohol drinking during pregnancy. WHO regards alcohol as being a drug, from which people are entitled to freedom and protection, and for those adversely affected, WHO supports the right to treatment and care. WHO is about protecting freedom in the field of human rights and health.
In Canada, there is a national alcohol policy which provides a forum APOLNET, in which Canadian alcohol policy issues can be debated. Canada has in place an alcohol-related harms and control policy. Alcohol drinking and pregnancy remains the choice of the individual.
Although the sale and promotion of alcohol is limited by law, alcohol drinking in itself is no crime. There has to be a social element, such as driving a vehicle, being in a public place, or under age before society imposes sanctions on a person in relation to excessive alcohol drinking.
In pregnancy, the child is a separate individual, yet very much attached to and dependent upon it’s mother. A mother has a duty of care towards her unborn child. Despite much international research prior to the WHO recommendation that supports no alcohol drinking during pregnancy, there continues to be public debate about the “issue” of alcohol drinking and pregnancy.
Current debate is fuelled by some “latest research” which loosely claims that light to moderate alcohol drinking and pregnancy is OK – and that women should not feel guilty about drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and FAE (Fetal Alcohol Effects) are a result of alcohol drinking and pregnancy, the severity of symptoms being largely dependent upon the frequency and volume of alcohol intake during pregnancy, and during which particular trimester. As with many drug effects, alcohol drinking in pregnancy causes a “spectrum” of symptoms indicative of the damage done to the developing fetus, some more, some less severe.
Alcohol crosses the placental barrier. The fetus has no protection. Fetal tissue alcohol levels can for many reasons exceed the blood alcohol levels of the mother and remain for a longer time. Regular “light” alcohol drinking by a pregnant woman might mean for the fetus continuous exposure to alcohol effects at a toxic level.
There is no current research to support a level of alcohol drinking during pregnancy that is guaranteed to be safe for the fetus. Indeed, this cannot be done – there are so many variables involved.
The issue of alcohol drinking and pregnancy from a holistic point of view needs to address at first instance why a pregnant woman should feel a need to drink alcohol at all. There are many other and better ways for people to relax, alcohol drinking is not mandatory.
Alcohol drinking is a risk to the baby. Pregnant women might find it more helpful to seek holistic counseling for their alcohol drinking when pregnant, rather than try to find out how much alcohol drinking they can get away with. Many women have delivered apparently healthy babies after alcohol drinking and pregnancy. There are many who have not. Mothers who bear the burden of a child deformed and disabled as a direct result of their alcohol drinking – at a safe level for the mother, perhaps, but toxic to the child.
All drugs are contra indicated during pregnancy – alcohol drinking and pregnancy is no exception – if you think you have a problem with alcohol drinking – holistic counseling can help.