Midwife speaking

Every month, midwife Dieuwke Ottens talks about what she experiences in her practice as a midwife. This time the FAS syndrome takes center stage.

Last week Inge came to the consultation hour. I know Inge as a client who is always very conscious in her pregnancy. She eats consciously, sports and has a pleasant job that fully understands her pregnancy. This way she can take the rest she sometimes needs.

Out of nowhere she asked about FAS syndrome. While exercising, a friend indicated that she knew someone who has a child with FAS syndrome. It could have something to do with alcohol. She was particularly disbelief: “You don't drink when you're pregnant, do you?”. That is also the moral in the Netherlands. But what seems easy in theory is not necessarily so in practice.

We went on an investigation together. We soon ended up on the website of the FAS Foundation.

FAS/D: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Spectrum Disorders (FAS/D)

If a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy, it can harm the baby in her tummy. Is the baby born with abnormalities and/or brain damage as a result of alcohol? Then they fall under the name FAS/D.

There are several forms of FAS/D:

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Part FAS
  • Alcohol-related birth defects
  • Alcohol-related damage to brain development

How common are FAS and FASD?

On the website of the FAS Foundation we read this:

“Globally, the number of children born with FASD is estimated to be 7.7 per 1,000 births (0.77%). In Europe this is almost three times as many: 19.8 children per 1000 births (1,98%). The number of children with FAS worldwide is estimated to be 1.5 per 1,000 births (0.15%). There are no separate figures available for the Netherlands.

The figures are difficult to translate because they are based on the alcohol consumption reported by the mothers themselves. So if the mother hasn't stated anything about it, FASD or FAS is probably not being thought of. So it is possible that FASD and FAS are more common than is currently known.”

Quite shocking numbers when you see them like that on a website. We read further:

FAS is 100% preventable by not drinking during pregnancy. The damage that alcohol can cause during fetal development cannot be reversed. It is clear that in particular excessive drinking (drinking more than 14 glasses a week) and binge drinking (drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks per occasion) greatly increase the risk of FAS.”

For Inge, but also for me, another moment of awareness to continue to pay attention to an alcohol-free pregnancy.

Dieuwke has been a full-time midwife for 20 years. She guides pregnant women and their partners. During pregnancy, childbirth and also after childbirth. She has assisted more than 1,300 deliveries. As a result, she has a lot of experience. There is hardly a question that she has not yet heard.

And since 2015 she is a sexual health consultant (NVVS) at the Dutch Society for Sexology. She answers all kinds of questions about sexuality. For example, questions about pain during sex. Or that partners both have different sexual desires during or after pregnancy. And men with erection problems also come to talk to her.





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