Alcohol, Smoking, and Drug Use

Consumption of alcohol can affect ovulation and hinder your ability to get pregnant during preconception. It can also increase the chances of birth defects during pregnancy.

Since a pregnancy implantation occurs about a week prior to a missed period, it is best not to drink any alcohol while trying to conceive. Both the quantity of alcohol consumed by the mother and the gestational age at the time of consumption play critical factors in determining the severity of harm to a fetus.

Drinking excess alcohol during pregnancy can also lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. Babies born with this condition may have physical and mental disabilities, including mental retardation, heart defects, and joint and limb defects.

Smoking has a negative impact on fertility and pregnancy as well. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have certain complications such as premature labor, vaginal bleeding, stillbirth, and decreased fetal growth. Smoking leads to a decrease in the oxygen and nutrients that reach the fetus, and infants born to women who smoke have an increased risk of asthma and sudden infant death syndrome.

If you smoke, you should stop immediately when you are trying to achieve a pregnancy. It is also a good idea for other family members to quit, as secondhand smoke is harmful to the baby.

Illegal drugs—such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, or marijuana—can also harm a fetus. Use of these drugs can cause problems with the placenta, preterm birth, and birth defects. It can also lead to infant drug addiction and learning problems for a child.