Drinking During Pregnancy: Yay or Nay?

Sasha Brown-Worsham
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Pregnant woman not drinking
Flickr photo by abudulla.saheem
Judging from yesterday's post and others like it, we moms are getting some mixed messages when it comes to drinking during pregnancy.

On the one hand, we're told that no one knows how many drinks causes fetal alcohol syndrome -- a debilitating problem that would cause any expectant mother to want to abstain. Officially, the US Surgeon General and Secretary of Health and Human Services recommend that pregnant women abstain from drinking alcohol.

However, there is the general sense that "they do it in Europe" (although that may change with Italy's fetus in the glass) and by not drinking, you're somehow a philistine.

Consider this: When I was three months pregnant with my son (my second pregnancy), my husband and I went to a New Year's Party.

Everyone was drinking and having fun, and the hostess, someone I didn't know all that well, insisted on making me a drink. When I refused because "I am pregnant," she rolled her eyes and told me her sister lived in Kenya for her pregnancies and drank through them both -- and the kids were fine. 

"I mean who pays attention to those scare tactics anyway?" she asked, in essence shaming me for doing what I felt was right.

I craved nothing more than a margarita. So much so that I once drank the mix sans tequila and triple sec, surrounded by a ring of salt. A "virgin margarita," if you will.

Then, later in that pregnancy, I became very agitated and wanted the baby to come out. Yesterday. My midwife encouraged me to drink a glass or two of wine each night, just to ease the stress. "You won't go into labor if you are stressed," she said. And then, I did take her advice.

Before I was ever pregnant, I remember watching in horror as a friend's sister popped percocets for her sciatica and washed them down with three glasses of wine. "My doctor said it was fine," she assured me. Ultimately, her baby was fine, too.

But there is still the sense for many moms-to-be that we are close-minded propaganda consumers if we abstain, but horrible mothers destined to kill our children if we partake. Like so many things, we can't win. And sometimes it's the women who haven't yet had children who sit in the most judgment.

So how does a mom win? What did you do during pregnancy?


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