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Alcholism and pregnancy- didn't know I was pregnant until 12 weeks, need some guidance.

(43 Posts)
jaxy1185 Thu 12-Jan-17 22:12:08

I am an alcoholic. I have been in recovery and sober until I relapsed this August. Both of my parents are recovering alcoholics, I got it on both sides evidently.

My partner and myself had discussed having children and decided to start trying once I was in full recovery mode. I did not think I would conceive right away if not at all because I have some ovarian issues. I am an athlete thus have very low body fat, my periods have always been late, short, irregular. I thought nothing of the spotting etc until one day I just started feeling 'strange'.. I took an HPT and it was positive- to my excitement and absolute HORROR.

For the past three months I have drank just about every day, some days way more than others. For example, there were a few weeks I drank nothing, or some days I had two light beers, but there were a good handful of days I was taking down at least a pint of vodka. I know, this seems absurd but alcoholism is a terrible disease, and absolutely horrendous when you have a tolerance like a Russian steel worker.

When I got the positive test, I nearly fainted. Luckily I eat very healthy and had been taking prenatal vitamins in preparation for baby time.
I have stopped drinking completely, am attending outpatient rehab, had a scan/ob gyn appt and am awaiting an appointment with a perinatologist/maternal fetal medicine specialist. I studied human cellular bio in my grad/undergrad so I am aware of the potential outcome for this little bean. I am curious, do any of you out there know anyone who has been in this situation, or have you been in it yourself?

I can't fathom the idea of terminating this pregnancy, I think everything happens for a reason, and I couldn't be more grateful to have this miracle come around to give me the push I really need towards recovery and providing the best life I possibly can.

I have scoured the web, forums etc for some semblance of calm in this emotional storm of fear that I have done irreversible damage to my baby to be- any information, personal experience may be helpful. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Jenda Thu 12-Jan-17 22:15:20

I can't offer any experience but I just wanted to wish you and your little bean well, congratulations on your pregnancy and your rehab smile

NameChange30 Thu 12-Jan-17 22:21:21

I think you're doing brilliantly well so far OP, keep up the good work. The most important thing is that you have stopped drinking and you're getting support to stay sober.

You might be interested in the book "Expecting Better" which has a chapter about the research on alcohol and its impact during pregnancy.

I've read it and if I remember rightly the impact is minimal at the very beginning of the pregnancy - there are certainly risks with heavy drinking but I think it's less damaging in the first few weeks than later on.

Not to minismise your concerns, as they are very legitimate, but hopefully that might reassure you a bit that you may have done less damage than you fear.

Congratulations on your pregnancy btw smile

PacificDogwod Thu 12-Jan-17 22:24:33

Congratulations on your pregnancy! thanks

Nobody can give you the certainty that your baby will be unaffected - you will have to weight until they are born and beyond to see how your baby develops.

However, there is nothing to say that your baby must be affected by your drinking and everything to gain by having stopped - bloody well done.

It sounds like you have good care lined up and are doing all the right things now.

Most women drink to some degree before they find out they are pregnant. Nobody knows what level of alcohol is harmful in pregnancy, hence the advice to not drink at all. However most pregnancies in which alcohol has been taken have good outcomes.

V best of luck! smile

NameChange30 Thu 12-Jan-17 22:32:19

I've just checked my copy of "Expecting Better" and the section on alcohol is very focused on light drinking rather than heavy/binge drinking, so it might not be too helpful. It says that there are risks associated with heavy/binge drinking but it doesn't give a huge amount of detail.

CupofTeaTime Thu 12-Jan-17 22:35:36

@pacificdogwood you did read the part where the OP has been drinking A PINT of vodka some days? I think what you're talking about and what the OP are talking about are two completely different levels of drinking!!

Congratulations on your pregnancy OP but I can't help but have the opinion that it was foolish of you to plan to become pregnant when you could relapse at any time and then in fact did. You should have been more careful with contraception when you were in your relapse and I hope for your baby's sake that he or she is born with no underlying issues.

AgentCooper Thu 12-Jan-17 22:38:09

No advice but just wanted to say well done flowers It can't have been easy and you're proving that you are made of strong stuff.

NameChange30 Thu 12-Jan-17 22:38:45

Oh look it didn't take long before someone criticised the OP hmm

Contraceptive failures happen, people make mistakes, but the OP is doing her best and there's no point making her feel worse now.

NameChange30 Thu 12-Jan-17 22:39:07

Last post was in response to CupofTea

Northernlurker Thu 12-Jan-17 22:41:06

Cupofteatime - it must be cold up there on the moral high ground at this time of year. This poster is looking for support. She's made the necessary life changes once she knew she was pregnant. She doesn't need your sanctimony.

Op - keep accessing the support and stay positive.

Jellybean85 Thu 12-Jan-17 22:46:45

Please don't be too hard on yourself, you've come a long way and you seem very motivated, this baby may be the very thing that keeps you sober.

That being said I work in social services and the effects of heavy drinking in early pregnancy are real. It's important to put into perspective though and there is a chance your baby will be born healthy.

Do you have any support for alcoholism ? There are some fantastic specialist midwives out there trained specially to deal with mums who have issues with alcohol or substance misuse. They are Fantastic people with lots of knowledge and no judgment flowers

ConvincingLiar Fri 13-Jan-17 06:47:23

I think you're right to be worried. There's no real way of telling what impact, if any, this will have on the baby. I think I'd be reading up on, and preparing myself to have a baby with foetal alcohol syndrome.

Good luck with staying sober. You're absolutely doing the right thing now but I'm sure it's tough flowers

Nottalotta Fri 13-Jan-17 09:43:33

What's done is done OP and can't be changed now. What is great is that you are making excellent progress now that you know you are pregnant.

In your position I would try not to worry (I know.....) and arm yourself with the facts about potential outcomes. And don't forget, one potential outcome is a perfectly healthy baby.

Congratulations and goid luck.

Roygrace Fri 13-Jan-17 09:49:15

Cu of tea. Do you have any understanding of the nature of addiction and the difficultys of this.

Op your doing well. I hope you keep sober for you and your baby

JaxingJump Fri 13-Jan-17 09:54:33

Good luck OP. I think you need to be honest with your midwives and consultants and accept any support you can get to prevent any further relapses. I know a few kids with FAS and it's a tough enough road and has its problems but they are still wonderful kids. Hopefully you won't have to deal with that but I would prepare yourself too.

imjessie Fri 13-Jan-17 09:54:41

The best course of action is to make sure you inform all the professionals of the situation . It's very possible your child will have AFS although I don't think they can screen for it , they can definitely look more closely to its brain . I have a child with special needs and it was questioned wether I drank in pregnancy ( I didn't drink a drop as I'm not a big drinker And I didn't see any point ) so I don't have a lot of sympathy for you but my father was a functioning alcoholic so I do understand . Speak to your doctor asap and be honest .. good luck .

imjessie Fri 13-Jan-17 09:57:56

Also to be aware have you looked into the weeks that AFS affects the foetus the worst ? I have a feeling it's later in the pregnancy when the brain is developing but I have no facts to back that up , just something I read once . A few years ago there was a programme about pregnancy and a woman who drank heavily all the way through ( she believed her baby would be fine ) and I think it was . Luck more than judgement though I would imagine .

imjessie Fri 13-Jan-17 09:58:31

FAS sorry .

NameChange30 Fri 13-Jan-17 10:13:34

" I don't have a lot of sympathy for you"
"but my father was a functioning alcoholic so I do understand"
Which is it?! You have no sympathy or you understand? It can't be both!

imjessie Fri 13-Jan-17 10:21:35

I'm saying I have a son with special needs and my life is hard ( so is his ) I didn't do anything wrong during my pregnancy so I feel angry that someone has put themselves in this position and yet I can feel empathy for her alcoholism .

3luckystars Fri 13-Jan-17 10:32:23

Hi I am probably no help but I know what it's like to worry about the baby you are carrying and it's hard.

My sister used to say to me 'think about all the women on the programmes that didn't know they were pregnant, they were up on rollercoasters, drinking, getting bitten by snakes etc. The baby did fine, of course that's not recommended behaviour but they didnt know they were pregnant! And neither did you.

I am glad you are getting expert help and wish you all the very best with your recovery and CONGRATULATIONS!

EssentialHummus Fri 13-Jan-17 10:39:47

Nothing to add but just wanted to wish you all the best OP flowers I am also at your stage of pregnancy and I understand your worries. Keep going, you're genuinely doing great.

PacificDogwod Fri 13-Jan-17 10:43:54

CupofTea, yes, I read the whole entire OP grin

The OP is well aware that her level of drinking is potentially harmful to her pregnancy and might have longterm consequences for her baby - I don't think that she was looking to have that rammed down her throat.

Many many women (more than you'd like to think) drink very heavily throughout pregnancy and have normal pregnancy outcomes, many of those who drink heavily don't sad.
The problem is nobody can predict what will happen to an individual pregnancy and, literally, only time will tell how a child will develop (features of FAS can be apparent at birth, but again, only time tells how each individual child with FAS actually gets on).

The OP's question was:
I am curious, do any of you out there know anyone who has been in this situation, or have you been in it yourself?

So, jaxy, if you are still reading: yes, I've known a number of women who drank too much before and during pregnancy. Some were more successful in stopping once they found out, others not so much. The outcomes where all different - statistically speaking stopping drinking is the single most important thing you can do for your baby, so well done. Like I said, it sounds like you have all the relevant support on board; the rest is now down to a bit of good luck. Which I sincerely hope you will have smile

You have stopped drinking, so now work hard on staying stopped, not just during the pregnancy but in preparation to being a happy, healthy, stable mother for your child thanks

UnbornMortificado Fri 13-Jan-17 10:52:13

Op with DD1 I didn't find out till I was 19 weeks. I won't pretend I drank to your extent but I did have a couple of nights out which I did binge drink on. DD1 was fine.

Congratulations on your pregnancy and well done for seeking support, I wish you both the best. One of by friends is an alcoholic I sort of understand how hard it is to stop flowers

Anatidae Fri 13-Jan-17 10:58:31

Hi op. I'm not a medic but I am a scientist with a background in human genetics and development.

There is unfortunately no way of knowing if any damage has been done. FAS is a spectrum really, with a range of effects. There's no test for it, it's diagnosed clinically by observation.
I know someone (a GP) who drank heavily through both pregnancies and her kids are bright and healthy, and I know someone who drank less but binged and her son has what I suspect is FAS. You just can't tell until they are born and often effects take years to fully present. There's no way of knowing. Each pregnancy is unique and there are specific Windows of development where the foetus is more vulnerable than other times.

Look, you can't change what's done. All you can do is maintain your sobriety and get good support in place. Having a baby is exhausting (sorry I know that sounds patronising) I have a 15 month old and it's been the most wonderful year but very hard on my mental health as he barely sleeps md I've developed severe anxiety. You are going to be tired and that will mean your resistance may drop. It's vital you have a support network in place to keep you sober.
Do NOT drink after the baby is born. Yes technically you can if you're breastfeeding but don't - try to maintain your sobriety.

I wish you luck.

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