Pregnant and Drinking Wine On the Job

Amy Kuras

wineProbably the only people who aren't questioning whether or not they can drink during pregnancy aren't big drinkers in their non-pregnant state and wouldn't miss it. For the rest of us, who've got no desire to get hammered but might want a nice glass of wine with dinner now and again, there's a ton of conflicting information out there.

If this is confusing to just a normal everyday wine or beer lover, imagine being a wine writer. And not just a wine writer, but one who's married to a winemaker.

That was the case for Blair Campbell, who has written about wine for a wide variety of publications. During her first trimester, she was feeling way too rotten to even think about sipping a glass of wine. But once the nausea cleared, she was faced with the need to do her job while protecting the health of her baby.

So she set out to find out a definitive answer to how much, exactly, she could drink during her pregnancy. Her OB told her, hesitantly, that one glass a month would be okay. Another OB in the same practice said one glass a day was probably fine and actually encouraged her to have a glass here and there ... and other sources were all over the map.

As she discovered, alcohol during pregnancy is a beloved subject of the Sanctimommy, who love to leave holier-than-thou comments about the selfishness and lack of caring exhibited by women who would dare to allow alcohol within five feet of them during pregnancy. Given that enjoying wine is part of her job, she went looking for the Sanctimommy antidote.

Campbell found a British source that said Fetal Alcohol Syndrome occurs in babies born to one-third of women who drank more than 18 alcohol units per day -- that's 18 small glasses of wine or 9 pints of beer. Now, I am a drinker and enjoy it, but 9 drinks, much less 18, is out of the question ever (if I'm attached to the idea of remaining conscious) and certainly not if I'm pregnant. 

Another source pointed out that there is no data, none, on the effects of light drinking on a developing fetus, but a re-examination of the whole "don't drink when pregnant" thing is finding that maybe complete abstinence for the entire pregnancy is unnecessary ... although laying off during first trimester is wise.

Campbell settled on one glass of wine on a Saturday night as her compromise, and her daughter is healthy and normal. I did the same while I was pregnant once I got out of first trimester, and my kids are going to be smarter than me any day now. And for those of us who are a certain age, our mothers were Betty Draper-style drinking and smoking during pregnancy and we turned out okay.

Did you drink when you were pregnant? What helped you make that decision?

Image via Fast Forward Event Productions/Flickr


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