Researchers from the Centre for Health Initiatives (CHI) found that patient sensitivity was seen as a barrier for many midwives and health professionals when it came to recommending abstinence from alcohol to expectant mothers as they did not wish to offend patients about their lifestyle choices.
CHI Director Professor Sandra Jones said this lack of information was potentially dangerous for pregnant women and their children.
“It’s a real problem, because mothers are not adequately aware of the dangerous effects alcohol can have on their baby,” she said.
The CHI team’s findings have been published in the International journal Midwifery in an article titled ‘Midwives and pregnant women talk about alcohol: what advice do we give and what do they receive?’
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is the most severe effect of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and has serious long-term effects on the developing foetus. The syndrome has become more prevalent in recent times due to the naivety of new mothers regarding the risks of alcohol consumption.
Professor Jones said alcohol guidelines for pregnant and breast-feeding women should be widely communicated by professionals.
“Many women are unaware of the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy because they are either not asking professionals the right questions or are not being provided with the right advice,” she said.
The research’s findings encourage midwives to be better equipped with information and to advise mothers about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
“It is beneficial for mothers to know the safety procedures that should be undertaken during pregnancy. If mothers themselves are more aware then midwives will not feel as pressured to deliver information,” Professor Jones said.
“Given the clear evidence, it is obvious that there is a lack of awareness on the effects of alcohol on babies during pregnancy. The CHI research provides some recommendations which can benefit both midwives and mothers.”