When a pregnant woman drinks an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol travels through her blood and into the baby's blood, tissues, and organs. Therefore, when a pregnant woman has a glass of wine, her baby has a glass of wine, too.
Drinking alcohol can harm the baby's development. Alcohol breaks down much more slowly in the baby's body than in an adult’s. Consequently, the baby's blood alcohol level remains increased longer than the mother's. This is very dangerous, and can sometimes lead to lifelong damage.
Drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy, and especially harmful and hazardous amounts, can lead to having a baby with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which is a completely preventable medical condition. FAS is a diagnostic term used to describe the range of mental and physical effects on the developing unborn baby that are caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. These effects range from brain damage and poor growth to birth defects and learning problems.
These problems associated with these effects are lifelong and can range from mild to severe.
A no-effect alcohol level which does not harm the unborn child has not been established. This is the reason why it is recommended that women who are pregnant or who are trying to get pregnant abstain from drinking any alcohol.
Evidence also suggests that alcohol may adversely affect lactation, behaviours such as feeding, and psychomotor development of the breastfed baby. As international guidelines recommend breastfeeding for the first six months, not drinking alcohol is recommended. For women who chose to drink while breastfeeding, however, they should avoid alcohol in the first month after delivery until breastfeeding is well established. After that alcohol consumption should be limited to no more than 2 standard drink units per day, where they should avoid drinking immediately before breastfeeding.