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How Much is Too Much Drinking During Pregnancy?

wine tasting, pregnancy diet

Will a glass (or more) hurt?

Even though we still see stories of bartenders refusing to serve pregnant women, people are much less strident when it comes to insisting that nine months of abstinence from alcohol is the only way to conduct oneself during pregnancy. Plenty of doctors, midwives and women themselves say a glass of wine here and there won’t lead to fetal alcohol syndrome.

To the frustration of many, there’s no consensus on how many ounces how frequently “here and there” means.

Once she put severe morning sickness behind her, Blair Campbell, a San Francisco Bay area wine writer, wanted to drink, not just for pleasure but for work. Her OB-Gyn gave her clearance to have one glass — a month. A consultation with Dr. Google got her up to a couple of glasses a week with no negative alcohol effects.

In the meantime, she had her first encounter with anonymous online commenters, who couldn’t believe she’d want to drink and had zero sympathy for the fact that, in her job, she sort of needed to.

She eventually found a fellow wine enthusiast who was not only a doctor, not only a pregnant doctor, but a pregnant doctor knocking back wine. There, Campbell had her answer. A glass or so a day wasn’t likely to hurt the fetus. It’s what she wanted to hear and, finally, she did, but not before learning there’s simply no evidence that light to moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy has never been shown to be bad or without consequence. We simply don’t know.

So women in some cultures do it — a lot. Women in other cultures don’t, at all. What drinking during pregnancy comes down to is sort of an early lesson in parenting overall: lots of opinions, not a lot of facts. You’re left to your own judgment.

I always lost my taste for beer and wine during pregnancy, so drinks were never something that I missed in those nine-month stretches. However, on more than one occasion, my cranberry juice was mistaken for a vodka drink and, wow, could I feel the looks!

Once at a wine shop, I noticed the owner was pregnant. This was back a few years ago when people said “once in awhile wouldn’t hurt.” So she and I talked about drinking and pregnancy and whether for her it was hard to follow the “rules.” She said her doctor wasn’t opposed to her having wine every day.

“What, like a glass?” I asked, so curious.

“Yeah, a glass,” she said. “Or more.”

She sold the business and moved before I could ever see whether more than a glass per day was too much for her pregnancy. But, like any matter involving another person’s pregnancy, it really wasn’t any of my business.

How much did you, if any, drink during your pregnancies?

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Photo: nhs.uk

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