Tshegofatso Makroti, a 30-year
old mother from Ikageng township in Potchefstroom who drank alcohol regularly
through five pregnancies, believes that although two of her babies were
stillborn her drinking was not a problem.
Makroti is not alone in her beliefs that
drinking while pregnant is acceptable, and ignores the advice of those who warn
against it. South Africa has one of the highest alcohol consumption levels in
the world, with a recent study by Stat SA last year revealing that one in four
women (26%) over the age of 15 consumes alcohol.
Complete avoidance of alcohol
According to a World Health Organization
report published in 2017, South African women top the list of heavy consumers of
alcohol amongst females in Africa. With alcohol being used to
celebrate, it poses a major threat to pregnant women and their babies when
consumed in excess.
Makroti does not think her drinking caused
harm to any of her babies – even though two of them died before birth.
“I have lost two babies. But I wouldn't say
it's alcohol because I gave birth to three other healthy babies during all my five
pregnancies. I was drinking; that was one of my cravings, but I was not drinking
heavy, just anything to get me tipsy and deal with my cravings,” she said.
While studies conducted in recent years have
shown that low alcohol consumption during pregnancy might not be harmful to the
child, many medical practitioners advise mothers to stay away from alcohol
completely to ensure the safety of their babies.
Risk of miscarriage and stillbirth
Women who consume excessive quantities of
alcohol during pregnancy place the unborn child at risk of developing FASD – foetal
alcohol spectrum disorders. This is a range of lifelong physical, behavioural
and intellectual disabilities.
Mathpelo Segomotso, a nurse at a community
health clinic, said where heavy drinkers suffer miscarriages, the alcohol is
often a contributing factor.
“Some women get pregnant and then lose their
baby before they become aware of their pregnancy. It's sad and some of the
miscarriages are due to high alcohol consumption,” she said.
Segomotso said pregnant women should abstain
“Alcohol is bad for pregnancy; it increases
the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. I know people say a little won't harm,
but to be safe, know that alcohol and pregnancy don't mix.” – Health-e News.
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