When you’re pregnant, you have to make many changes, including what you eat and drink. It’s important to be aware of what you should (or shouldn’t) be consuming during pregnancy to ensure the safety and health of your baby. Pregnant women must drink more fluids than those who are not expecting, especially during the summer when the weather is hot.
It’s fair to wonder just which drinks are safe to consume during pregnancy. Obviously, you should avoid alcoholic beverages as even drinking them in moderation raises your baby’s risk for fetal alcohol syndrome. However, while some drinks are questionable, they can safely be consumed during pregnancy. You may not have to give up your favorite drinks as you might think.
What is palm wine?
Palm wine, known by several local names, is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm trees such as the palmyra, date palms, and coconut palms. It is known by various names in different regions and is common in various parts of Africa, the Caribbean, South America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Micronesia.
Palm wine production by smallholders and individual farmers may promote conservation as palm trees become a source of regular household income that may economically be worth more than the value of timber sold. This known alcoholic drink contains sugar, bacteria, and yeast (which causes fermentation). Palm wine has a lot of beneficial nutrients like; protein, carbohydrates, vitamin C, amino acids, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and vitamin B(s).
Can A Pregnant Woman Drink Palm Wine?
No, palm wine is an alcoholic beverage and pregnant women and those trying to become pregnant should avoid alcohol completely until after the baby has been born. Even drinking one glass of palm wine on a regular basis can put the unborn fetus at risk of several developmental, mental, and emotional disorders, according to March of Dimes. If a woman believes she may be pregnant, she should stop drinking altogether and refrain from taking in any alcoholic drinks throughout her pregnancy.
When a pregnant woman ingests palm wine, the alcohol swiftly passes through the umbilical cord, reaching the fetus. There, it affects the brain, central nervous system (CNS), heart, eyes, ears, legs, arms, teeth, external genitalia, and palate of the fetus. If the mother continues to drink throughout her pregnancy, this constant exposure to alcohol’s effects will cause cumulative effects. As the fetus grows, the alcohol continues exerting its effect, delaying normal growth and putting the unborn child at risk of several physicals, emotional, mental, and intellectual problems.
No Amount of Alcohol Is Safe
If a pregnant woman drinks a glass of palm wine, a bottle of beer, or a small amount of hard liquor, it passes through to the fetus just like food and nonalcoholic beverages. Some people mistakenly believe that it’s okay to drink late in pregnancy when the unborn baby is nearly completely formed, but the baby’s brain and other body systems are still too immature to be exposed to alcohol in any amount.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 0.2-1.5 infants out of every 1,000 live births have fetal alcohol syndrome disorder. Physical exams of children led health experts and researchers to say that 2-5 percent of children are affected with FASD.
How Alcohol Passes to the Baby
Alcohol moves through the placenta via the umbilical cord. During pregnancy, the placenta is the only source of nutrition for the unborn child, which makes it easy for alcohol to reach the baby, according to the March of Dimes. There, it enters the baby’s developing body, affecting every organ and body system.
It isn’t only the pregnant woman who is responsible for ensuring she doesn’t drink. Her partner or spouse should also take the responsibility of ensuring that she completely abstains from any alcohol throughout her pregnancy, recommends the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Her partner may want to consider abstaining as well – doing so may make it easier for the woman to successfully abstain. The partner’s consumption of alcohol may have an effect on the child’s development, especially if that person drinks heavily.
Even if the pregnant woman hasn’t had anything to drink, but her partner drinks regularly or heavily, this may lead to mental, intellectual, or physical issues for the child after birth.
In addition, alcohol negatively affects men’s sperm cells. As the sperm fertilizes the woman’s egg, it introduces the effects of the alcohol to the newly fertilized embryo.
Effects of palm wine on an unborn baby
A pregnant woman places her unborn child at risk of several issues if she continues to drink palm wine while she’s pregnant. These problems can include:
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Miscarriage (fetus dies before the 20th week of pregnancy)
- Birth defects (hearing issues or heart defects)
- Stillbirth (fetus dies after 20 weeks of pregnancy)
In cases of fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, the baby may have several distinctive features of the disorder. Physical features include:
- Small head
- Being shorter than peers
- Low weight
Beyond the fact that palm wine can terminate an early pregnancy, other cognitive issues associated with drinking palm wine during pregnancy can include poor memory, attention difficulties, problems with math skills, learning disabilities, speech and language delays, low IQ, and poor judgment skills.
The child of a palm wine drinker experiences hyperactivity and behavioral issues. In addition, they may have heart, skeletal, kidney, vision, or hearing problems.