Why You Absolutely Should Not Have That Drink When You’re Pregnant
By Top Contributor Jennifer Landis
Pregnancy is a frustrating wash of grays, and even the best pregnancy books hit too many refrains of “maybe, maybe not” for those of us who like clear, absolute, black-and-white instructions.
Maybe you’ll have morning sickness. Maybe you won’t. Maybe it will be all day sickness. Maybe it will end with the first trimester. Maybe it won’t — and all the maybes end with a chipper “every pregnancy is unique!” as though that’s a helpful response.
Of course, there is one absolute in pregnancy: You absolutely shouldn’t drink while pregnant.
No chipper “every pregnancy is unique!” here. No “you’re a special snowflake and can drink with impunity.” Just a flat no, don’t drink. The risks aren’t worth it.
No, Really, None at All
There are still, unfortunately, some doctors who don’t agree with the CDC’s recommendations. In the past, some doctors have even recommended women indulge in a nightly glass of wine to unwind and de-stress while pregnant.
Does that sound outrageous to you? Hint: It should.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) agree, there is no amount of alcohol that is safe to drink while pregnant. To burst another bubble, there’s also no magical time during pregnancy where it’s safe to drink alcohol.
There are lots of mothers-to-be who don’t learn they’re expecting until they’re a month or more along. There’s nothing quite like the crippling fear you’ve already endangered your unborn child by drinking when you didn’t know you were pregnant.
That’s why it’s probably wise for women to stop drinking as a precaution when they are trying to conceive. Sorry, CDC, you’re probably not going to convince all fertile women to stop drinking, but it is the smart choice for those actively trying to get pregnant.
No, Seriously, the Answer Isn’t Going to Change
Between 2,000 and 12,000 babies are born with alcohol related birth defects each year in the United States.
Despite thousands of yearly cases, there still isn’t enough data. For obvious reasons, experts aren’t jumping to experiment with varying levels of alcohol consumption on unborn children. So while you probably don’t need to beat yourself up if you had some wine at a wedding before you realized your Eggo is preggo, you shouldn’t try to justify having “just one drink” after your pee stick says pregnant.
Why Play Russian Roulette With Your Baby’s Health?
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are, as the name so subtly hints, a wide spectrum. Some kids may be lucky enough to only have slightly abnormal facial features, shorter height or minor attention issues. Other kids, however, are not so lucky.
FASD risks and conditions include but, you guessed it, aren’t limited to:
- Abnormal facial features
- Low body weight
- Shorter height
- Attention and memory issues
- Speech and language delays
- Intellectual disabilities
- Poor reasoning and judgment
- Vision and hearing problems
- Problems with the heart, kidneys or bones
As fun as those conditions sound, they don’t hold a candle to risks like premature birth, stillbirth and miscarriage.
FASD symptoms are preventable.
Let’s repeat that.
That means unless you choose to drink alcohol, your child will never be at risk. Are a few drinks really worth the lifelong consequences for you and your child? What’s nine months to their entire life and the rest of yours?
Having Trouble? You May Need Help
Complete honesty time: It can really suck to have to change your diet and lifestyle while the daddy-to-be continues to do whatever the heck he wants. Watching him down a beer or pound a shot when you’re stuck with a Shirley Temple can be aggravating, to say the least.
If you’re feeling left out or chafing against your restrictions, ask your partner to abstain with you. That way they won’t be bringing temptation home with them, and you’ll have a not-drinking buddy for social occasions.
Want what’s best for your little bean but still can’t seem to quit? That may be a sign you need professional help to cope with an addiction. Talk to your doctor, call a hotline, get into rehab or join your local Alcoholics Anonymous. Fighting addictions requires help and support. You don’t need to go it alone.
We’d all like to think we mature past the It-Can’t-Happen-to-Me syndrome after high school. Spoiler alert: We don’t. Smoking, texting while driving, chugging a gallon of milk, the cinnamon challenge, drinking while pregnant — we know the risks, yet we still lie and tell ourselves we’ll be the exception.
We’re not. You’re not. I’m not. Drinking while pregnant is not safe for anyone, ever. Bottom line. End of story. There’s no gray here — it’s completely black-and-white.
Jennifer Landis is a writer, mama, and blogger at Mindfulness Mama. She enjoys long runs, peanut butter, and wearing her sassy pants. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.