I had a paper due this week and that ate up most of my time. I learned a LOT about drinking alcohol during pregnancy though. I'll summarize the gist of what I thought was really interesting.
So you go out to a great party, drink a lot and, oops, you find out you're pregnant a few months later. Meanwhile, you've been to lots of other parties and you've been drunk a gazillion times. Suddenly you feel like crap because a) you didn't mean to get pregnant and b) you were drinking alcohol while pregnant.
No Drinking While Trying
So what's the moral of story? Don't drink alcohol if you are trying to get pregnant OR use protection/birth control if you are drinking and you don't want to be pregnant. For some reason, I never thought of quitting alcohol when trying to get pregnant, but it makes sense.
The same applies to breastfeeding. Apparently poor Junior can get some unpleasant side effects if he gets alcohol from your breast milk. So, I feel bad for mums that love to drink. It's a looooong haul when Junior's involved.
But why does it matter anyways? Well, alcohol affects the placenta which is responsible for providing your baby with everything he/she needs during pregnancy. Alcohol can make the placenta smaller, and not work as well. So your baby ends up getting ripped off.
Sometimes this means that you'll miscarry; sometimes it means that the baby will die in the womb; sometimes it means a smaller baby or earlier (preterm) birth. At the same time, the alcohol affects how your baby is growing and he/she might end up having problems growing the brain, the heart, and proper face features. It's kind of scary (well, I thought so anyways).
If your baby ends up coming out perfectly fine, he/she might still end up more irritable or having learning problems later on.
So basically, mum has to suck it up and stop drinking. Otherwise, bad things happen to Baby. Is it really so easy though? Of course not!
If mom loves to drink, this is a very difficult situation. She will want to drink, but feel guilty about drinking. Plus she might worry about what people will think of her if she drinks.
So mums going through pregnancy need a lot of support from their family and friends. They need to know that you care about them. Also, suggest alcohol-free activities to do together so she doesn't have to worry about saying no to alcohol. Try to understand that it can be hard for her to say no even if she knows what's right.
Also, don't judge her. She might make mistakes and she might need a lot of practice before she gets it right. It's hard to give up something you are used to doing and enjoy doing. Just imagine being forced to give up your favourite hobby suddenly. Do your best to be encouraging and praise her for doing a good job when she is trying.
If she is struggling, see if she needs extra support. She might benefit from joining some community groups of other moms trying to do the same thing. Also, there is always Alcoholic Anonymous. They can be very inspirational and help a lot.
Here are some websites with resources and some contact information on who to call for help:
Here To Help
Healthy Families BC
I hope that learning all this information will help me to be a more understanding and supportive nurse, and I hope that you have found this information useful too.