Break out a half glass of bubbly at the end of a long day while you’re pregnant and just wait for the critics to start. Well-meaning friends, family, and even your doctor or midwife will have a strong opinion about whether you should drink alcohol during your pregnancy and how much you should drink. When it comes down to it, this is a personal decision you’re going to have to make after studying the available facts, but here are a few things for you to consider.
First, you may have had something to drink after you conceived but before discovering you were pregnant. This is common and shouldn’t cause you a lot of headache. You probably found out you were pregnant around week 3 or 4, long before the placenta begins to function at week 10.
Your first trimester is the time when you should be most careful about avoiding alcohol. All of your baby’s vital organs are forming at this point and it’s wiser simply not to drink. However, after your first trimester, you doctor or midwife may advise you that a small amount of alcohol is okay on occasion.
However, is that small amount of alcohol safe? While there have been studies showing that some alcohol is safe, there have been others showing that it is not. You certainly don’t want to run the risk of having a child with fetal alcohol syndrome, which results in head and face distortion, poor growth, mental retardation, and some behavior issues.
One fantastic resource is Emily Oster’s Expecting Better, a book that takes a hard look at all the research surrounding pregnancy and gives mothers the tools they need to make informed decisions. If you want to know why the rules exist and which ones you can cut out, this gives you the tools you need.
For many women, a half glass of wine leads to consuming half the bottle, so doctors often play it safe and suggest women abstain from alcohol completely. If you are prone to any type of excessive alcohol intake, then take these few months to focus on making healthier decisions. Your midwife or doctor can also refer you to a specialist who can provide counselling to help you work through your issues.
In addition to cutting alcohol, try eating healthier foods and drinking tea. Your midwife can recommend teas such as Red Raspberry Root Tea to help you relax, sleep well, and have a smoother labor. Pregnancy may seem to drag on and on, especially at the end, but if you use the time to pamper yourself with healthy whole foods, plenty of water, and a few special treats such as massages or days in the pool, then you’ll be a little more prepared when your world changes on your baby’s birthday.
Whatever your decision, don’t feel embarrassed when others disagree and share their thoughts. Just remember, they have you and your baby’s best interest in mind and they make different choices than you will. This is your first chance to practice being a parent and advocate, for yourself and your brand new child.