WHAT THESE SUBSTANCES MAY DO TO YOUR BABY

Alcohol Daily consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, as few as two or three drinks a day, can lead to problems with your baby’s development and growth, the risk of prematurity and even congenital abnormalities including heart problems. Babies of alcoholic mothers are at increased risk of suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome. Babies affected by this have stunted growth, mental retardation and abnormal facial features. Alcohol is best avoided entirely during pregnancy. If you drink more than 2-3 glasses of alcohol per day and are unable to cut down during pregnancy, we suggest you discuss this with your doctor.

Smoking Women who smoke during pregnancy tend to have smaller babies. The chemicals breathed in include nicotine, and interfere with the baby’s growth. Statistics show that, on average, the baby of a mother who smokes during pregnancy weighs around 200 g less than average. (If a baby is significantly underweight when it is born, it is less likely to thrive and remain healthy.) It is also at a higher risk of developing complications at birth, and there is a significant risk of it being born prematurely. Passive smoking may also affect the baby before it is born, so it is advisable for the mother’s partner to refrain from smoking in the house. If you are unable to stop smoking during pregnancy, we suggest you discuss this with your doctor.

Painkillers Check with your doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy. Painkillers in particular can be harmful to the baby in many different ways. Try relaxation techniques, yoga or massage as an alternative for pain relief.

Drugs of addiction These can cause severe problems during pregnancy and birth, and the baby may also be ‘addicted’ and suffer severe withdrawal symptoms after birth. The baby is usually underdeveloped and may become severely ill. It is important that you let your health professional know if you are using any drug of addiction during your pregnancy.

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