Congratulations on your pregnancy! You're about to embark on a wild journey that will change the way you see everything. But as exciting as it may be, there's also a lot to consider when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for you and your bundle of joy. One question we often get asked is whether or not drinking while pregnant is safe. The answer, like most things in life, isn't straightforward.
How Does Alcohol Affect Pregnancy?
Before diving into how much alcohol is safe during pregnancy (don't worry, we'll get to that), it's essential to understand how alcohol affects pregnancy.
Alcohol can actually cross the placenta and harm fetal development. It can damage cells at any stage of development - even before you know you're pregnant! Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that develop in babies born exposed to alcohol during their mothers' pregnancies.
Some effects of exposure include facial abnormalities, growth problems, nervous system developmental issues, learning disabilities - among others.
As scary as this information might seem (and trust us; it ain't good) - let's move on!
Drink Like Shakespeare
First thing first: if William Shakespeare were alive today (cue conspiracy theories), he would tell us what he thinks about drinking while pregnant:
"To drink or not to drink?" That is indeed the question!
Well... To give some dignity back to his quote (sorry Will) – there are certain drinks that could help calm mom-to-be nerves (NOT beer, obviously!). Chamomile tea or an occasional glass of watered-down cranberry juice sound delightful enough without trying too hard (Oh Yeah).
And c'mon now! Being pregnant means less hassle organizing parties in bars... more cozy friendship moments with pottery painting nights and chick flicks marathons (yassss).
A Drink or Two?
So, you're probably thinking; "Ok, but what about that 'glass of wine a day won't hurt' rule?"
Unfortunately (like most rules), it isn't quite cut and dry. While some women have been known to indulge in alcohol during pregnancy without any apparent adverse effects on their babies (lucky gals), it's still considered risky (duh).
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises pregnant women not to drink at all as there is no safe amount (sighs). The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts it this way: "[there's] no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy... even moderate drinking can impact fetal development."
In the grand world of medicine (no trolls allowed here), uncertainty about both the timing of exposure when considering developing fetal organs/symptoms due to different paternity as well as social norms/cultural habits makes using specific guidelines tough for doctors.
That said, some research into prospective mothers who had one glass indicated no clear correlation with overall birth risks/developments. In contrast - embryotoxic effect might occur based on dosage intake & frequency patterns.
TL;DR: Unfortunately (or fortunately?!) – one doesn't provide a magic silver bullet answer either full-on absolving us nor making further concerns easier. Though nothing is certain under this topic area, try your best using information gathered carefully from various medically approved sources! Still confused? Talk with your healthcare provider!
Let's break down exactly how much alcohol would be considered low-, moderate-, or high-risk for expecting moms:
A few sips (not glasses!) are unlikely to cause issues - like an occasional sip off someone else's shiraz (aka theft) —but only if done infrequently (<1-2 times per month).
Anything beyond low-risk is a no-no. How much alcohol you consume and how often during pregnancy can increase the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. According to the American Pregnancy Association, moderate drinking entails consuming two drinks per week at any time throughout pregnancy or four drinks just once a week (please don't do it!).
Don't even think about it (seriously)! Drinking heavily during your first trimester increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth or other adverse outcomes, while continued heavy drinking throughout your pregnancy puts your baby at high risk for FASDs.
|Alcohol Consumption||Risk Level|
|Infrequent Sips only||Low|
|Four Drinks in one day||Moderate|
TL;DR: Stay away from unhealthy levels like any foursomes or frequent binge-drinking sessions - all meant merely as guidance based on related studies & trustworthy medical journals. Nurses never like hangover calls after hours either – don’t make her pick up that phone!
Don't Cave-In For Social Pressure (Or Guilt Ridden Feelings)
If you're feeling pressured to drink by friends and family members who seem less than concerned about its potential effects on their unborn child - politely decline!
A confident “no” could be enough to stop them from offering you anything else alcoholic (or accidentally spilling an alcoholic tincture into homely-poured mocktails).
Do not let anyone guilt trip/cajole/threaten/conspire/bribe/shame/seduce me into drinking against your better judgment (we’ve got this covered). Remember- protecting yourself is part of taking care of both you and your baby!
Pregnancy comes with many rules which aren’t always obvious or the most fun - but sacrificing something like alcohol in order to ensure a healthy birth is one of those rules you should stick to.
Joining "locktails" (all puns intended) could become your next preferred pastime during this period too, without any worries for weird cravings! (yayyyyy!)
If you're someone who regularly drinks, you can still indulge in non-alcoholic types (that don't taste like bitter snake oil) and remain happy ― because let's face it; drinking less might reduce that hangover of lifetime sometime too (‽)(!).