You probably know that pregnant women should avoid alcohol. By learning to decline a glass of wine with your dinner during the preconception phase, you will be mentally preparing yourself for a lifestyle change. Add an extra glass of water to your diet in place of alcohol. Try sparkling waters or juices instead.
What this means is that you need to think long and hard about each glass of alcohol you consider. Where are you in your cycle? Could you already be pregnant and not know it yet? How would you feel about this glass of alcohol if the pregnancy test turned positive in a week? Would it worry you? If the answer is yes, don't drink it.
Alcohol is dangerous to your growing baby in many ways. It can cause brain damage, mental retardation, growth deformities, and other problems depending on how much you drank and at what point in your cycle. The first three to eight weeks of pregnancy, before you usually know you're pregnant, are the most critical in terms of not drinking.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 130,000 women are drinking enough during pregnancy to put their babies at an increased risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other related alcohol effects.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a serious disorder caused by drinking during pregnancy. It is unknown how much it takes to cause a child to suffer from this serious disease. Research shows that having seven or more drinks a week or even a single occasion of binge drinking (five or more drinks at once) during your pregnancy puts your baby at risk.
Another related problem that has shown up recently is called Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). It is believed that this is caused by lesser amounts of alcohol. It's best not to drink at all, since researchers and doctors don't know conclusively how much is too much.
If you have a serious problem with alcohol, there are many places you can get help. Some programs are designed specifically to help women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. It's never too early to start.