In the UK, alcohol is a large part of the culture – whether you drink or not. Not only do you have to worry about binge drinking and potential alcohol addiction, but women seeking to get pregnant or worried about the possibility need to be more aware of the dangers of drinking.

Alcohol and pregnancy are serious topics, and women and their partners should take in information about pregnancy wellness and its relationship to alcohol.


Alcohol and Pregnancy

NHS data has indicated that in the UK, around 41% of women have drunk alcohol at some point during pregnancy. Whilst this is a worrying statistic, it shows that if you or your loved ones have similar worries, then you are not alone. Drinking alcohol is not wrong, and if you are unaware of being pregnant at the time, this does not say anything bad about you as a person.

Alcohol and pregnancy become a problem when a woman continues to drink throughout the pregnancy – even a moderate amount. The most common questions women have are about the ways that alcohol will affect a pregnancy, the risks involved and the long-term consequences.

Many women and partners also ask, “Does the body reject alcohol when pregnant?” This is a valid question, as the body is a remarkable thing and does protect us in many ways throughout our lives.

The main takeaway answer to all these questions is simple. Do not drink if you are. Believe yourself to be pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. If you are suffering from alcoholism and get pregnant, then you need to get professional help immediately and figure out your next steps.


Understanding How Alcohol is Processed

It’s important to know how a body processes alcohol to understand why it is related to a woman’s pregnancy health.

When you drink alcohol, around a fifth is rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream via the stomach. The rest is absorbed by the small intestines. Once in the bloodstream, it goes to the liver, where that organ produces enzymes to break down the alcohol. This stops the effects of alcohol, but if you are drinking too quickly or a large amount, the liver cannot keep up, and the alcohol stays in your system.

The placenta is an organ that connects the mother and growing foetus and helps the baby get the nutrients and oxygen it needs whilst removing waste. Alcohol molecules are small, and the placenta is unable to stop them from getting through to the foetus from the mother’s bloodstream. The developing liver is incapable of metabolising the alcohol the same way as the mother does.

All this means that the foetus will share the same blood alcohol content as the mother, and it remains at that level for much longer. If a mother is actively abusing alcohol, then that means a massive amount of alcohol will remain in the foetus’ bloodstream long after it has left the mother – causing huge damage.


Does Your Body Reject Alcohol During Pregnancy?

A body does not actively become more and less predisposed to alcohol during pregnancy. A woman may find that certain smells or tastes cause nausea and sickness. As alcohol can have strong smells and tastes, a reaction to these may indicate that a woman is pregnant.

Developing morning sickness and urinating more frequently are also signs of pregnancy. These could be mistaken by those with alcoholism as a sign of that, though, as alcohol can cause vomiting and more urination.

Current NHS guidelines for alcohol and pregnancy are that a pregnant woman should not drink at all once they are aware of the pregnancy. This is because our bodies do not actively reject alcohol when pregnant, which can make it harder for a person to come to the realisation that they are.

Alcohol is very harmful during the first 3 months of the pregnancy, so it is important to have a full alcohol detox and remain sober once you first suspect you are pregnant.


The Risks of Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy

The reason why drinking during any stage of pregnancy is advised against is because of the many ways it can affect the foetus.

  • Miscarriage – The highest risk of miscarriage is in the first 3 months of the pregnancy. Drinking alcohol during this time, even a moderate amount, can increase the risk of a miscarriage occurring. Beyond the physical health risks of a miscarriage, there can also be long-lasting psychological effects for the mother and partner.
  • Premature Labour & Stillbirth – Drinking alcohol can cause the baby to come earlier than it should, bringing greater health risks. Babies born prematurely are more likely to stillbirth or have long-life health defects.
  • Foetal Alcohol Syndrome – The main risk is the development of the foetus, which can cause many issues for a child. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is incurable and can cause physical defects and deformities, cognitive disabilities and social issues.


Alternatives to Alcohol During Pregnancy 

Becoming pregnant doesn’t mean the end of a social life, despite not being allowed to drink.

  • Alcohol-Free Alternatives – The non-alcoholic drink industry is a large one. At bars and pubs, you can experiment with mocktails and try non-alcoholic versions of beer and wine. When doing this, it is important to be sure that the drinks contain no alcohol.
  • Don’t Go It Alone – Not drinking may make you feel isolated. Going sober with your partner or a close friend can help you get through it.
  • Do Different Things – If socialising to you meant drinking, find something new. Go walking or take up a new class with your friends rather than go to the pub. Have a meal or a coffee rather than sitting in a beer garden.


Making Safe Choices for You and Your Baby

Drinking alcohol and pregnancy do not go together. Your body will likely attempt to reject alcohol, and drinking at any stage of pregnancy can cause irreversible damage. Those suffering from alcohol addiction whilst pregnant need to get professional help for their health and the baby’s. An alcohol rehab might be the only answer to lessen the risks.


Find Help Today

If you are worried about your drinking and the effects it could have on your pregnancy health, reach out to Ocean Recovery today. We are a private drug and alcohol rehab, capable of giving you the help you need. To get through to our admissions team, call us at 0800 880 7596.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: September 1, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.