Will Heavy Drinking Cause A Miscarriage?
Will Heavy Drinking Cause a Miscarriage?
If you’re wondering if heavy drinking can cause a miscarriage, the answer is yes. If you are pregnant, you should not drink any alcohol. In fact, if you are even thinking about getting pregnant, you should avoid alcohol.
When you drink alcohol at any point during your pregnancy, it increases the likelihood of miscarriage as well as premature birth, birth defects and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
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How Does Alcohol Affect the Health of an Unborn Baby?
When you drink alcohol while pregnant, the alcohol passes through the placenta and umbilical cord, reaching your baby. The placenta supplies an unborn baby with oxygen and food inside the mother’s uterus.
Any amount of alcohol can cause harm to a developing baby’s organs and brain. No amount of alcohol is proven safe during pregnancy.
With drinking and pregnancy, specific risks include:
- Miscarriage, defined as a baby dying in the womb before the 20th week of pregnancy.
- Stillbirth, which is when a baby dies in the womb after the 20th week of pregnancy.
- Low birth weight, which is when a baby is born weighing under five pounds, eight ounces.
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can lead to a range of developmental and intellectual disabilities.
- If you binge drink, your chances of having a baby with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders increase significantly.
- Binge drinking is considered having four or more drinks in two to three hours.
- Birth defects such as hearing, vision, or heart problems. When a baby is born with birth defects, it can impact their overall health, development and body function.
- Brain damage and developmental problems can occur with drinking and pregnancy.
- Premature birth, where a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- A premature baby is at risk of serious health problems not only at birth but later in life.
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Why Will Heavy Drinking Cause a Miscarriage?
Miscarriage means the spontaneous loss of pregnancy before the 20th week. A miscarriage can be incredibly traumatic for a mother. Unfortunately, miscarriages are already common, even without alcohol being involved. An estimated 10 to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Symptoms of a miscarriage depend on how far along the pregnancy is.
Along with drinking and miscarriage being related to one another, using other illicit drugs or smoking during pregnancy can also increase the risk of miscarriage. Other miscarriage risk factors include age, weight, and chronic conditions like uncontrolled diabetes.
Avoiding drinking during pregnancy and using other substances is a key way to lower your risk. Again, there is no amount of alcohol use that is considered safe during pregnancy.
It can also be risky to drink alcohol when you are breastfeeding. If you do drink alcohol while breastfeeding, you should limit your intake and wait at least two hours after a drink to nurse.
What are Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders?
If you drink during pregnancy, there is the risk of a baby being born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. A diagnosis is based on different symptoms.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS is the most involved end of the spectrum. A baby born with FAS may have central nervous system problems, growth problems and facial feature effects. A baby with FAS may develop problems with memory, learning, communication, attention span and vision.
Another disorder is alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, or ARND, which may lead to intellectual disabilities and behavioral and learning problems in your baby. There are also alcohol-related birth defects or ARBD. A baby born with ARBD may develop have kidney, bone, and heart problems.
All of these effects last a lifetime, and there is no cure. However, early intervention may help improve some symptoms.
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Avoiding Alcohol During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant and you find that you are not able to stop using alcohol, what can you do?
Here are a few tips:
- If you usually drink alcohol in certain situations or when you are with specific people, focus on avoiding those scenarios.
- Stay away from places where people often drink, such as bars.
- Take the alcohol out of your home.
- Ask your partner or family to help you stay accountable during your pregnancy.
- Talk to your doctor about an alcohol treatment program.
- Join a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous, which follows a 12-step model.
Addiction Treatment if You Are Pregnant
If you are having trouble not using alcohol during your pregnancy, you should consider a treatment program. This might be a residential treatment program or outpatient treatment.
Resurgence Behavioral Health has a variety of personalized programs available, including for women who are pregnant and want to avoid the risks of drinking and pregnancy.
When you are entering treatment, and especially when you are pregnant, you want to go to a center that’s comfortable and feels like home, which is the case at Resurgence.
You also want to work with not just clinically-trained professionals but people who are empathetic and understand what you are going through.
You can expect the following during treatment for alcohol addiction or dependence:
- You will work with addiction medicine specialists who will initially do an assessment to understand more about your alcohol use and dependence. They can also assess psychiatric disorders. Once your assessment is completed, the treatment team creates a specialized treatment plan.
- The first stage of treatment for alcohol dependence is often detoxification or detox. This is when someone goes through the symptoms of withdrawal. Medical experts can monitor your health during this time and take steps to keep you safe and as comfortable as possible.
- Then, many people continue with inpatient treatment, which may include therapeutic treatment and a comprehensive focus on recovery.
- Some people may participate in outpatient treatment rather than inpatient treatment (or following inpatient treatment), depending on their individual needs.
Following treatment, your plan may detail what you should do when you return home to continue your recovery. For example, you might regularly attend Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step meetings in your hometown.
How to Find Help for Drinking and Pregnancy
If you are worried about the potential for drinking and miscarriage to occur, contact Resurgence Behavioral Health. A baby’s brain and body are developing throughout the entirety of your pregnancy, so it is never too late to stop drinking.
If you would like to learn more about the treatment options available, and how to get help for drinking during pregnancy, our team of compassionate treatment experts is available now. We can go over available options and also verify your insurance coverage.
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Final Thoughts—Will Heavy Drinking Cause a Miscarriage?
To sum up, will heavy drinking cause a miscarriage? The answer is yes, it is a possibility. Using even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can increase your risk of miscarriage. If you are a heavy drinker, that risk goes up substantially.
The more you drink and the longer you drink during pregnancy, the higher the risk of miscarriage.
In addition to miscarriage, drinking during pregnancy can lead to many other problems, such as stillbirth and developmental issues that will affect your child for their entire life.
Help is available so that you can stop drinking for the health of your baby. Contact Resurgence Behavioral Health today so that we can find the treatment plan that is best for you.