Sometimes, when I sit down to write for this site, and I review the topics that Suzanne and I have so carefully chosen and debated, I sigh. Because I look at the position I’ve taken. Give more thought to the opinion that I hold. And while I certainly stand by what I believe 100 percent of the time, I understand that my way of thinking on certain issues is not the popular view.
Like drinking during pregnancy.
(I promise, I am a very responsible person, despite what you may read.)
But before we dive into this, let’s be clear from the outset. When I say “drinking during pregnancy” I don’t mean shots of tequila or a slate of mixed drinks that would test the skills of the bartenders at Coyote Ugly. For me, it means a glass of wine with a meal every once in a while.
Research shows that an occasional drink — one or two a week — while pregnant will not harm the developing fetus, nor cause any long-term effects to the child once born. Yet still, particularly here in the U.S., women are told or at the very least peer pressured into believing that even a single glass of wine or beer is a bad idea and somehow you are a bad mother and an alcoholic if you can’t manage to abstain for nine months (longer if you jump on the wagon during preconception). And yet in Europe, they regularly drink alcohol during pregnancy, to nary a raised eyebrow.
(Did you know that French women won’t eat salads when they are pregnant? French OBs generally warn preggos to avoid raw vegetables. So if you are horrified by the sight of a pregnant woman at your neighborhood bar, imagine how a Frenchwoman feels when she sees a pregnant woman belly up to the salad bar.)
I went to a baby shower a few years ago (before I was pregnant with S.) and the mommy-to-be poured herself a decent-sized glass of wine. No one said anything to her but I saw a good amount of raised eyebrows, particularly from the older guests.
My friend and I never discussed it afterward, but I always wondered if anyone made any remarks about it that I wasn’t aware of. And it got me thinking about my own feelings about drinking during pregnancy. Up until that point, I hadn’t. (Well, not consciously anyway. I might have partaken in more than my fair share of “fun” with friends one night and then found out a week or so later that I was pregnant with my first, C. Oops.) But why hadn’t I? To be honest, it wasn’t because I personally didn’t want to — I hadn’t really given it much thought in either direction. But I think a part of me knew that along with enjoying that glass of wine, I’d be not enjoying other things — hard stares and helpful advice.
In any event, not too long after that shower, I became pregnant with our third. And on occasion, I craved red wine. And on occasion, I had some. I talked to my OB about it, and his opinion was that having a little wine was more than fine and could actually be a good thing, serving as a way to help me relax. Moderation, was the key, he told me. Knowing when to stop.
And of course, there are some women who won’t know how to stop. But chances are they aren’t debating drinking during while they are pregnant, they are actually doing it. For the 90-odd percent of us who are responsible, who understand what the word moderation means, I think we need to stop judging.
Being pregnant is a glorious, wonderful time. I never loved my body as much as I do when I’m pregnant. But it’s also hard, especially when everyone has an opinion. When all is said and done, take the approach that makes you feel the most comfortable.
Did you drink while you were pregnant? What? How much? Suzanne didn’t, but I know she doesn’t judge me.