Drinking While Pregnant

Drinking While Pregnant? I’m Sorry, I Just Don’t Get It

Mom Jeanine
February 11, 2011


Good Question, Health, hot topic, Jeanine Edwards, Safety

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Last night I was at an event for work and as with most events here in N.Y.C., there was alcohol. I will say this upfront, I’m not a drinker. I’ve never been a drinker. I can probably count the number of times I’ve ever had a sip of alcohol. That being said, I have no problem with people drinking around me–in moderation, of course.

Back to last night. One of the other guests was pregnant–not showing, but she still put it out there that she was expecting–and she openly threw back about 1/4 glass of champagne. You could see a few other guests were a little surprised, so then another woman said her doctor actually recommended she have a cocktail to help quell early contractions. Everyone laughed it off, the party went on and it was forgotten within a few minutes. By everyone except me, that is.

The entire ride home, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I know some doctors say an occasional glass of alcohol probably won’t hurt, but it’s still one of those things that makes me very uneasy. As you can probably guess, I was one of those hyper-aware expectant moms that avoided anything that might harm my baby like the plague. I didn’t drink coffee, eat cheese, cold cuts, undercooked meat or fish for my entire pregnancy. I even asked people who smoked around me to put their cigarettes out. I just felt like I was so lucky to be carrying this baby, why would I do anything to jeopardize her health?

Now I know this is a really polarizing topic, but I am genuinely curious: what’s the appeal of drinking while you’re pregnant? Like I said, I’ve never been a drinker, so I don’t know if it takes the edge off or actually tastes good, so share your thoughts. Would you, or did you, drink while you were pregnant?

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  • J
    February 11, 2011

  • The real appeal is feeling like you’re not being deprived of every thing you used to take pleasure in.

    I personally think 1/4 glass of champagne in your 2nd trimester is no big deal. But, I also was okay with eating small amounts of sushi (including raw fish — like the Japanese!) and small amounts of soft cheese (like the French!) while pregnant, so my risk tolerance is clearly higher than some others. I did avoid things that would have heavy metals (like mercury-laden fish).

    I do think individual reactions to this would also vary based on their experience — e.g., someone who had a hard time getting pregnant might be more cautious than someone who didn’t struggle with fertility issues, etc.

  • Betsy
    February 12, 2011

  • I wouldn’t. To me it’s just not worth the risk. I didn’t have any fertility issues or any problems with my pregnancy, but I was a total worry wart and it was my first pregnancy. I don’t think I’d risk it with further pregnancies either.

  • Hil'Lesha
    February 12, 2011

  • I’m not so much of a drinker myself. Therefore, I really don’t see the appeal either.

  • Karen Ross
    February 12, 2011

  • Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since no one knows how much alcohol it takes for FAS to develop, experts recommend no alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

  • Lori Z.
    February 12, 2011

  • I never drank alcohol with either of my pregnancies, but I really couldn’t quit caffeine with my second pregnancy. Every couple days there’d be a cup of tea or a chocolate bar. I felt guilty every time, too.

  • SKS
    February 12, 2011

  • Personally, I chose not to drink when I was pregnant. But I have never been a big drinker.
    Sushi, on the other hand, is my weakness. And my doc is cool with it, as long as it’s one serving once a week. And avoiding the high mercury content fish. I probably ate one or two servings a month.
    So far, the little bean is 2.5yrs old, and everyone in his preschool class is thrown off by how intelligent he is, and how he picks things up rather quickly – quicker than some 4 yr olds. And no, we don’t flashcard him or anything like that, so he probably gets it from his dad’s genes.

  • SKS
    February 12, 2011

  • …or the fish.

  • caroline
    February 12, 2011

  • Please dont be so uptight and ignorant! There is nothing wrong with sipping a little champagne or wine during pregnancy! However i agree about skipping on strong alcohol like vodka or whisky.
    this is my second pregnancy and every now and then I enjoy a small glass of champagne or wine. I dye my hair to the roots. I get mani/pedi. I still eat brie or roquefort. And my babies are healthy and fine. So stop the paranoia. There are much more serious matters you should worry about believe me.

  • s
    February 12, 2011

  • As a teratogen specialist, risk factors for FAS include chronic drinking (meaning more than 1-2 servings of alcohol per week) and binge drinking. The reason most healthcare specialists recommend no alcohol is that people do not know what one serving of alcohol is (what you dirnk at a bar or restaurant is typically 2 servings in one glass) and they tend to underestimate how much they are drinking.
    I had a glass of wine every once in a while past my first trimester (when all major organs are being developed) in all 3 of my pregnancies. All 3 of my children are fine and I had no complications during pregnancy or labor. I enjoy wine. If someone were drinking enough to feel the effects, they have had too much alcohol and are not anywhere near the safe zone.
    On a personal note, let’s stop running around using every opportunity in life to judge. I think the main reason our parenting community has splintered so much vs. our parents’ generation is this need to judge and make ourselves feel better by putting down others. Do we really want to model this behavior for the next generation?

  • Shannon Wonser
    February 12, 2011

  • I’m not really a drinker either, but I don’t see a problem with drinking 1/4 of a flute of champagne at an event while pregnant. Now, if she was drinking more than that every night, or even multiple times a week I would worry, but I doubt a 1/4 of a glass of wine a few times during her pregnancy is going to hurt her baby. There are good properties to alcohol too when used in moderation; not to mention the relaxation factor involved. I’m sure that little bit of champaign helped to calm her and lower her blood pressure at what can be a stressful time.

  • JKL
    February 12, 2011

  • I wasd pregnate with my son on my 21st B-day and I had a cocktail, since there are health benifits to having one serving of alchol daily I am sure that one serving a week wouldt hurt. but in general unless you do have a blood pressure problem or the like I would avoid it. I think there should be a much bigger focus on SMOKING durring pregnancy, I am certin that this contributed to my sons astma and didnt seem as tabu or talked about.

  • Shari
    February 12, 2011

  • I guess if you feel that there is nothing wrong with giving alcohol to a baby go ahead and drink. Personally, NEVER would I risk it. Are you crazy? What’s the point anyway? For your OWN pleasure?

  • Andrea
    February 12, 2011

  • I wouldn’t drink while pregnant I barely drink when I’m not pregnant. Alcoholics are often not capable of stopping at one drink. Giving pregnant women the green light to have a drink could cause major issues for the moms that can’t control themselves and honestly if you need to have a drink during pregnancy this is quite likely. I drink occasionally but for me it’s not worth the risk. If you like the taste of wine or beer you can try the alcohol free versions or wait till the baby is born. If you like the feeling that drinking gives you and that’s why you drink I think it’s even more important that you abstain from drinking.

  • anjii
    February 12, 2011

  • With my first I abstained from all alcohol and all raw sushi, along with deli meats, soft cheeses, coffee, etc…

    But with my second I was comfortable with all the research I’d done to indulge in low-mercury sushi on occasion (from restaurants who use flash frozen fish, which kills any potential parasites), and I had one glass of wine in my 3rd tri, when I was a bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding. Also, a couple times when friends would order a yummy sounding martini, I would have one tiny sip, just to see if I liked it, for future reference. The reason they say to have none, is because in our Western society, so many people have no self control or self limiting. In other cultures, such as European and Asian nations, these things are part of normal, MODERATE, lifestyles, and people don’t need the overpolicing to stay within reasonable, safe limits.

    I would have had a bit of coffee too, if I had really wanted some, but I rarely drink coffee, and herbal teas were my beverage of choice. I did stay away from the deli meats, etc. still though, because you never know which slice could have listeriosis, and unlike the flash frozen fish, nothing has killed it.

  • Allison
    February 12, 2011

  • I has one glass of wine a week. No problems.

  • Ima Drunk
    February 12, 2011

  • I drakn burbon on my way to the free clinik to have my yunguns an aint nun of um deformd.

  • b
    February 12, 2011

  • Asking someone that doesn’t drink what the appeal is like asking someone that doesn’t smoke if they could stop smoking during pregnancy. The appeal is the same as those that drink a cup of coffee to unwind. I was able to cut out the caffeine, but I know there are others that could only ‘limit’ it at best (saying that decaf didn’t cut it). Not that I couldn’t do without it, but none of my daily stressors subsided so a sip or two at the end of a week (and not every week, just those really bad ones that seemed to coincide with a hormonal spike) seemed to help.

    The funny thing is that I read British versions of the magazines we get here (stuck at airport, you know the drill) that didn’t dissuade the practive of a beer here or there. I think the other things is Americans tend to do everything in excess so if they condone a drink here or there, we tend to take it to an extreme….

  • Amber
    February 12, 2011

  • I struggle from anxiety and typically take prozac on a daily basis to keep it at bay. However, I went off of the prozac with both of my babies throughout my pregnancies. I began having anxiety in my 3rd trimester with my 1st and the doctor recommended I have a small glass of wine at night to help me relax and sleep. Which is better…wine or benadryl? At least wine is natural, so I went that route when needed. A very small glass…about 2 oz…was all I needed to calm my nerves and allow me to get some rest. I did the same with my 2nd. I am happy to report that they are both perfectly healthy, thriving little girls.

  • Casey
    February 13, 2011

  • I didn’t drink at all for mine, because I was scared that if my baby had any health problems, I would have always wondered if it was because of that. Have friends that do it and their babies are fine.

  • EW523
    February 13, 2011

  • This post makes me really angry. First of all, the major flaw in your thinking is assuming that that everyone is in 100% agreement that any amount of alcohol during pregnancy is wrong. There are more than a few OBs out there, including my own, who agree that alcohol “once in a while”/for a special occasion is fine [and caffeine once a day too, if we're discussing that too!] Am I going to listen to my doctor, or some random blogger without a medical degree? Why are you spreading misconceptions, when you’re not a doctor?

    That being said, everyone is entitled to their opinion, some doctors advise against it, and *that’s okay too* – which brings me to my next point.

    Pregnant women and mothers have enough to deal with already… do we need to be judged by others ON TOP of everything we have going on? Its none of your business how someone manages their pregnancy. And how are *you* SOOO sure that you’ve done everything during your pregnancy “perfectly??” what kind of standard is that?? look, some women take every measure and precaution and have tough pregnancies, and some women do absolutely nothing and breeze through to delivery without issue. Point is, ITS NONE OF YOUR DAMN business what a woman’s choice is — stop worrying about other people and spend a little more time thinking about yourself and why it bothers you so much.

    You can make these same arguments [and judgements] about childbirth — no matter whether you decide to go 100% natural or schedule your c-section, its a PERSONAL decision. Ditto on the breastfeeding versus formula debate. Everyone believes their way/choice is the “best” way obviously. The point is, to each their own. I’m sure we’re all trying to do the best we can and we don’t need to be judged.

  • Lorie-Bill Shewbridge
    February 13, 2011

  • When I was pregnant, during my 2nd trimester I had one after dinner drink with Kalhua in it because I was craving it… it had very low alcohol content. The waitress serving me gave me a really hard time about it and I had to speak to her manager about her attitude. It is my business, not hers.
    During my second pregnancy, my MD told me there was no problem having a glass of wine if someone threw me a baby shower. Then toward the end of the pregnancy when I was going into pre-term labor, he said to have a small amount of wine to see if they were actual contractions or Braxton-Hicks.
    I think a tiny bit of wine or champagne, as long as you are eating a healthy diet, and have no other underlying health problems, is really not at issue after the 2nd trimester. (As per my OB/GYN) and both my boys are extrememly strong and healthy 20 & 23 year old men.

  • Courtney
    February 13, 2011

  • There are very different opinions on this topic. You have to be smart and talk to your doctor, and then make the best decision for YOU.

    That being said, I had a glass of red wine or two in my last trimester. My blood pressure had gone through the roof, and my doctor did recommend a glass of red wine (I think it was around week 35) because it did help me relax and take my mind off my discomfort, thus decreasing my blood pressure a bit. Again, I am talking about two glasses of wine total, in 9 months. Not something to get all worked up about, in my opinion.

    You have to make your own choices – some women gain 70 pounds, some binge on burgers the enitre 9 months, some undereat and end up having an underweight baby. I ate healthy, gained 29 pounds, worked out almost every day, splurged on burgers and fries once in a while, and yes, had my glass of wine at the end. I guess I see my pregnancy as being one of the healthiest of any of my friends, and I had a very healthy baby, so it all depends on the situation.

  • Mom Jeanine
    February 13, 2011

  • I just want to say I really appreciate everyone’s comments here. This post was not intended to be divisive–quite the opposite actually. Perhaps if we all heard why other moms chose to drink or not, it would take us from a place of judgment to a place of understanding.

  • Elizabeth
    February 14, 2011

  • As a medical professional (Physician Assistant) the real risk with alcohol is fetal alcohol syndrome which takes 2 servings (typically a large glass of wine more than twice a week or binge drinking). I personally love the taste the wine and drank a couple of sips during my second trimester and would have 1 glass occasionally during the 3rd trimester (especially the last week when I was 5 days over due and my son was already a healthy 10lbs). It was brave of you to put this out there because like other moms said- Japanese moms continue to eat raw fish, French moms continue to eat unpasteurized cheeses and lots of moms continue to take certain medications and drink caffeine (none of which you’d give your baby like another mom posted) and people like me that live in NYC continue to breathe the dirty air and everything is fine. It’s a personal choice- like some people choose not to eat certain foods for their own health and choose to feed their children certain foods. And guess what, if you didn’t eat 100% organic foods (or used any product with BPA) during your pregnancy, you probably passed on some growth hormones, pesticides and other chemicals to your baby.

  • Donna K
    February 15, 2011

  • JUST SAY NO! My son was adopted, and I have seen the effects prenatal alcohol exposure can have on a child. Many children are much more affected. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the #1 non genetic cause of mental retardation! No one can say how much, if any, alcohol is safe in pregnancy.
    There was something in the news recently about a little alcohol won’t hurt. That is crazy! It goes against all evidence to the contrary. It was irresponsible for them to publish that before it was verified.
    I am a medical doctor.

  • kimi
    March 4, 2011

  • I agree w/ caroline. A little is fine. All three of my kids I didn’t know I was preg. Till the 4th month. I drank socially till I found out. They all turned out perfect.

  • SAM
    March 16, 2011

  • Personally I would not drink a sip (knowingly) while pregnant. I did have a few glasses before I figured out I was pregnant. I did have a drink every now and then while nursing, but now think that was kind of stupid too.

  • Hannah
    April 28, 2011

  • I just feel like there are so many opportunities for my child to be impacted by something in the environment doing harm. From pollution in the air, to pesticides in their food; if this is the one thing I CAN control, why not make sure I do my best?

  • Christy
    July 21, 2011

  • Think about it logically; of course you can drink some while pregnant. In the Middle Ages, people didn’t drink water because it was too unclean; everyone drank ale. Not every baby turned out messed up.

  • c
    August 9, 2011

  • Maybe you didn’t drink/eat cheese/sushi/etc. during your pregnancy, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a better mother/parent, so get over yourself. Stop trying to pretend to be perfect. You’re not.

  • Lynn
    September 1, 2011

  • I’d like to second EW523′s thoughts. I found this post judgmental.

  • Stephanie Hodges
    September 17, 2011

  • I didn’t drink alcohol. That is an obvious, well you would think a no brainer due to FAS etc, to not drink during a pregnancy. Yet, you get thse doe doe doctors who got their degree in Dumbville University thinking a little amount don’t hurt. A doctor’s recommended little amount v.s what the person will actually drink is two seperate things. Another thing is to consider not enough studies about development in the begin and last trimester on the effects of the quanity and quality of consumption. Another thing is doctors fail to take environment factors of the individual into play as well. 1 glass for this woman a night can be way too much for another woman, especialy if meds and a diease.

    I had my coffee; however, I couldn’t stomach much during my pregnancy due to sever gurd. yet, I would eat tuna, cold cuts etc. Just in moderation and would be aware of who I bought from.

    I was riding my horse up til I was 8 months pregnant. He was put down a few months later, so I am exceptionaly happy I spent my pregnancy with that old man. My other horses, I rode after my pregnancy as the potential of getting hurt was high but with my old man, he would extremly gentle.

    Use your instincts. Some females go over board while other females have no commen sense or they believe everything their doctor says with out going by their own instincts.