According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2012, over 87 percent of Americans polled admitted to drinking alcohol at least once in their lifetime. If you’ve recently learned a friend, family member or your spouse is pregnant, you want to encourage them to enjoy a safe, healthy pregnancy – which includes completely giving up alcohol. Whether this expectant mother is a casual drinker or you’re worried she has a serious problem, it’s vital she understands how consuming alcohol can negatively impact her baby. Here are a few tips you can utilize to help your pregnant loved one stop drinking and start creating a safe, healthy environment for her growing baby:
Arm Yourself With Knowledge
Prior to sitting down with your loved one to discuss her drinking, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the potentially harmful impact consuming alcohol can have on an unborn child:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the main causes of birth defects and other medical issues affecting fetuses is alcohol consumption. The risks of these birth defects can be completely eliminated if the mother doesn’t drink.
Drinking can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and low birth weight.
According to the March of Dimes, a fetus who is exposed to alcohol is at increased risk of several behavioral and physical issues later in life, including speech delays, behavioral issues and trouble sleeping.
Far and away, one of the biggest risks posed to an unborn child from their mother’s alcohol consumption is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, FAS. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of FAS can vary greatly, from mild to extremely severe, and include facial deformities, noticeably smaller heads and brains and vision issues.
Even if your loved one gave birth to a healthy baby while continuing to drink in the past, it’s no guarantee this child will be spared from the devastating effects of alcohol consumption.
These notions are scary, but they must be addressed, and will hopefully help your loved one make the decision to stop drinking.
Talking With Your Loved One
Once you’ve armed yourself with information about the impact drinking can have on an unborn child, it’s time to actually sit your friend, family member or spouse down and have a serious discussion.
If you’re nervous about this sit down, the Partnership For a Drug-Free America provides some tips:
Never confront your loved one if you’ve been drinking, or if they’ve been drinking. Instead, wait until you’re both level-headed and can have a serious discussion.
Start the conversation when you and your loved one have the time to talk. Never bring-up such a delicate subject if you’re both rushing out the door to work or getting ready for bed.
Don’t expect your loved one to accept your help, or even admit they have an issue. Even if you provide every scary statistic you can find, it still might not be enough.
Know when you’re out of your league. If your loved one has suffered from a serious alcohol issue for years and you’re truly concerned for their health and the health of the baby, don’t hesitate to contact a substance abuse treatment professional.
Stick around and provide as much support as you can. Don’t take on your loved one’s burdens or live their life for them and instead, be there as a shoulder to cry on or someone to offer a few kind words.
Despite your best efforts, your loved one might to continue drinking throughout her pregnancy. However, instead of accepting this as inevitable and you’re powerless, don’t give-up. Don’t ever stop supporting your loved one while you continue to encourage them to give up alcohol once-and-for-all.