The dangers of alcohol for expecting mothers

There are varying opinions about whether a nursing or expecting mother should consume small amounts of alcohol. How much is too much? Is just a glass of wine permitted? Jody Freyre, MD, PPG – OB/GYN, Hospital Medicine, a hospitalist at Parkview Regional Medical Center, weighs in on the subject.

How much alcohol is safe?
The truth is, a safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has not been determined. It is difficult to assess the impact, but is well-established that alcohol is a teratogen that affects fetal growth and development at all stages of pregnancy. It is recommended to abstain completely from alcohol during pregnancy.


What are the possible effects of drinking during pregnancy?

Effects can range from abnormal craniofacial development of the fetus, to fetal alcohol syndrome with severe brain dysfunction, to stillbirth. This can occur even at low levels of exposure.


What if I’m breastfeeding?
A small percentage of alcohol is transferred into breast milk and the "safe" level is controversial. It is not necessary to "pump and dump" after alcohol consumption since the alcohol will leave the system given an appropriate amount of time. A mother could wait to nurse 2 hours after exposure of a single serving of alcohol. The greater concern with alcohol consumption and breastfeeding is child care abilities and impaired judgement. Always plan accordingly and keep you and your baby’s safety in mind.


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