On the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month of the year since 1999, advocates all over the world gather for the cause to be alcohol-free for the nine months of pregnancy. September 9 is International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Awareness Day, commemorated with a minute of reflection at 9:09 on the clock.
This 12-year-old campaign originated with the joint efforts of parents in United States and Canada. Today, various countries in the world have bell concordances with the participation of churches and information drives with the help of local government units and teachers.
The Philippines has yet to take part in this cause, but many moms in Manila are already living out their convictions on the issue. FAS refers to mental, physical, and emotional development problems in children related to alcohol use during pregnancy.
(Drinking causes hangovers... Read about the Pub Crawl here.)
Drinking alcohol has its risks for adults, but the dangers of the exercise are doubled for the fetus during pregnancy. Alcohol has been known to cross the placenta and into the fetus’ bloodstream, intoxicating the developing baby who is not yet equipped to metabolize the substance. Studies are inconclusive as to what amount of alcohol ingestion is safe during pregnancy, but it threatens to the produce the following results:
In the womb
- Slow growth of fetus
- Premature delivery
- Abnormalities in appearance (such as cleft palate)
- Heart defects (such as Ventricular Septal Defect)
- Poor mental and mobile coordination (in relation to the baby’s age, including mental retardation and behavioral problems come infant stage)
EYP spoke to four real women and the challenges they faced during those nine important months of baby-making. Here are the thoughts of Manila mommies on alcohol and pregnancy.
Angel Rodriguez, 24, online ghostwriter, mother to Syrena (1 year): Strangely enough, before I even knew I was pregnant, I found both alcohol and cigarettes incredibly repugnant. Although with me it was coffee instead of alcohol, I think that when it comes to abstaining from anything during pregnancy, really, all you have to do is think about your baby. Repeatedly reminding yourself that there is someone inside of you relying on your lifestyle for their proper growth and development should really be enough to abstain from all of those things you're not allowed to have during this time.
Jenny Ong, 32, lawyer, mother to Naima (3 years and 9 months) and Spider (EDD December 26, 2011): I was able to totally abstain from ingesting alcoholic beverages. No difficulties since I chose to protect my children. I chose to have children and I wanted to give them the best start in life. This meant removing any risk of alcohol-related abnormalities totally. For moms to be, let me put it this way - having that 1 glass of wine will probably give you a night's happiness but what if that 1 glass results in having a child with mental/physical defects? Is it worth the lifetime of regret?
Julie De Borja, 28, Marketing Officer Philstar.com/President Sari-Sari Sounds, mother to Ella (9 years): I was in college back then and drinking was a usual past time. I would usually only have a bottle of beer when out as I am not a drinker. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, it was easy to stay away from the alcohol. I was also too busy craving! I was young and I really just had to listen to my doctor since she was the first person I consulted and, for a while, the only person I consulted. In my first trimester, I had threats of miscarriage (because I was still young), so early on I had all these meds to take and precautionary actions to worry about. I stayed away from alcohol until my baby turned 8 months, 2 months after I stopped breastfeeding. Now that I'm older though, I've heard that a glass of red wine wouldn't hurt. That helps considering how stressful my jobs are. I don't know though, I'd still stay away from alcohol, it's a small sacrifice for your baby anyway.
Regine Mendoza, 22, work-at-home-mom, mother to Trent (9 months): I was drinking beer up until I was around five months pregnant. Not a lot of people knew I was a mom-to-be, and I wanted to keep it that way; not refusing a drink would keep things seemingly normal. The hardest times were during events hosted by the company I worked for. My bosses would offer to buy drinks, and that was pretty difficult to avoid. I read somewhere that half a glass of wine is okay for pregos, especially during the third trimester. I tried that on Thanksgiving 2010 when I was on my 37th week, and I was rushed to the hospital due to spotting and bad contractions! I'm pretty lucky that my baby was born normal and extremely healthy. The alcohol didn't cross the placenta, and no damage was done. I wouldn't recommend alcohol for moms-to-be. Replace the booze with some pre-natal milk instead, it really helps!