The Harvard Health Blog recently reviewed a study on alcohol and pregnancy. Although Dr. Howard LeWine admitted that the “medical evidence supporting strict abstinence [of alcohol is] not very strong,” at no point in the article did the Harvard Health Blog condone drinking during pregnancy. In fact, Dr. LeWine went on to write, “Since it’s not clear how much alcohol it takes to cause problems, the best advice remains the same: women should avoid alcohol if they are pregnant or might become pregnant.” If that statement wasn’t enough, LeWine finished the article with this statement: “Looking at the evidence, a strict recommendation to have zero alcohol during pregnancy seems extreme. Will there be consensus about whether it’s safe for a pregnant woman to have a glass of wine or a beer once or twice a week? I don’t think we will see that any time soon.”
So, what does this mean?
Is, as the United Kindgom’s Department of Health indicates, a drink a couple times a week O.K. during pregnancy? Or, as a UK non-profit suggests, should drinking be eliminated entirely based on the fact that “Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is the biggest cause of non-genetic mental handicap in the western world and the only one that is 100% preventable.”
As a mother, the answer is a no-brainer: don’t drink, and there’s zero risk of your child having fetal alcohol syndrome/fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. With all of the things you can’t control – genetics, accidents, illness – why would an expectant mother dare to roll the dice with something like alcohol consumption – something she should be 100% in control of preventing? If we’re being honest, drinking during pregnancy is absolutely irresponsible because it presents an unnecessary risk to the fetus.
There are many options on alcohol and pregnancy, from the self-proclaimed “educated” moms and those citing European customs. But let’s be real: these opinions are often just excuses to drink while pregnant. And that’s just pathetic.
What do I think of drinking during pregnancy? I’ll share a few thoughts with the class:
1. Alcohol influences the behavior of a grown adult; it absolutely has an effect on the fetus. It doesn’t matter if the amount of alcohol that reaches the fetus is less than the amount you consume; the fetus is much smaller and less developed, thus less equipped to deal with alcohol consumption. Studies have shown that, even in adults, alcohol absorption varies greatly; in fact, the older a person is, the higher their blood alcohol level will be when compared to a younger consumer of the same alcohol content (Source: University of Rochester Medical Center). To break it down: if you’re at an “advanced maternal age” and you’re drinking alcohol during pregnancy, there’s more of a chance the alcohol will reach your baby’s system.
2. Giving up alcohol should never be a struggle. If you can’t go 9 months with a drink for the health of your child, you need to go to AA. And, please, before you get all angry and up-in-arms about that statement, take a minute and think, “Do I really want to be that pregnant lunatic crying over my right to have a beer?” No, you do not. Also, WebMD might argue that, based on the riskiness of drinking during pregnancy, you may be an alcoholic.
3. Defending your decision to consume alcohol while pregnant is trashy. How trashy? Well, even Snooki didn’t drink while pregnant. So, yeah, super trashy.
4. Drinking is cool for maybe 6 months after you turn legal age. After that, it’s lame. Every bar is the same. Every time you get “drunk” you do something more stupid and more costly than the time before. If you’re not getting “drunk” but instead you’re getting buzzed to “relax”, you probably have other issues. And, likely, alcohol dependence.
5. The fact that there are “no known safe levels” of alcohol should not read as an invitation to test the limits. It doesn’t mean that science hasn’t gotten around to the question; it means the question is so moronic, science doesn’t think it needs to address the issue. See point #1.
6. If you’re whining about not being able to drink while pregnant, you probably should reconsider this whole “parenting” thing, because if you envision yourself sipping martinis in the near future, you are on crack. Which, coincidentally, is also not good during pregnancy. Basically, you’re a mess.
7. There are so many other things you should be doing during pregnancy. Like, I don’t know, reading a book? Actually, you should probably read many books. Because if you think alcohol & pregnancy are a good combination, your education thus far has been useless.
8. Pregnancy weight gain doesn’t just happen to your belly. But, while we’re discussing bellies, you really want to add a beer gut to that basketball you’ve got going on? Seriously? Don’t waste your calories on something that’s bad for you and your baby.
9. On the subject of bodies, alcohol damages your body and makes it look older. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
10. Doctors who say drinking while pregnant is okay are fucking alcoholics. Yeah, doctors are human and, thus, can also be susceptible to alcoholism. A medical professional who sympathizes with your need to have a drink or two is not concerned about your health or your baby; he/she is concerned with getting acceptance from people, earning your insurance dollars, and drinking away the guilt at the end of the day.
11. If you’ve read about fetal alcohol syndrome/fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and that isn’t enough to dissuade you from drinking, you absolutely have a drinking problem. To even take the risk of giving your child a lifelong sentence of struggle just so you can “relax” or “unwind” is despicable and pathetic. Read: you are pathetic.
Please, feel free to leave nasty, idiotic comments about how alcohol should be socially acceptable while pregnant. Or how you only have alcohol on special occasions so it’s totally fine. Fearlessly defend your selfish decision to drink during pregnancy. Prove me wrong. Then, read this Pulitzer Prize featured piece, “My Baby Was Born A Drunk” by Eric Newhouse and tell me that wine is worth it. I dare you.