Oh, my pregnant friends, are you sitting down? A new study brings some news that, while not unsurprising, may yet be tough to hear, especially for those of us who, unaware that we were pregnant during the first few weeks of pregnancy, maybe had a glass of wine or two in the days before seeing those twin lines appear on that tell-tale stick: It's never safe to drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy -- and it can be particularly harmful to your fetus during the first trimester.
On the (relatively) bright side, it's actually drinking alcohol at the end of the first trimester that puts your fetus most at risk for developing physical, behavioral, or cognitive problems, this new research, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, has found.
According to the study's authors, women "who are of childbearing age and who are contemplating or at risk of becoming pregnant" are advised to avoid alcohol. Those who are pregnant shouldn't touch anything alcoholic (not a glass of champagne, not a sip of beer) throughout their pregnancies.
Of course, the risks of drinking during pregnancy are serious and not something any mother would desire. But here's some perspective from a mother who, unaware I was pregnant with my first child, did have a few glasses of wine the first few weeks of my pregnancy. Once I learned the thrilling news, I of course stopped drinking anything stronger than orange juice, but I was pretty freaked out about the potential effects of those first unknowingly irresponsible weeks until I held my perfect baby in that delivery room. So here's the message I want to convey: If you had a glass of wine or two -- a cocktail, or a beer -- in the early days of your pregnancy, before you realized you were pregnant, DO NOT PANIC.
Presumably, at this point, knowing you're pregnant, you've already stopped drinking, but if you haven't, stop now and stay dry for the rest of your pregnancy. It's never too late to start. And the odds are still in your favor that everything will be OK and you'll soon be celebrating the birth of your happy, healthy baby -- with a glass of sparkling (non-alcoholic) cider, of course.
Did you drink in the early days of your pregnancy, before you realized you were pregnant?
Image via Davide Restivo/Flickr