So, Your Doctor Said It's OK To Have A Drink. What's Next?

For years, moms were told to avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy, but now some doctors say a little drink won't hurt. What size is your wine glass and is it safe?

pregnant lady

Photo credit: Bettina Neuefeind/Flickr

I cut out alcohol before I tried to conceive. It wasn't a big deal as I've never been a big drinker. Once I was pregnant, I wouldn't even cook with alcohol. Yes, I went overboard. Yes, I know alcohol burns off while cooking. Yes, I worried a lot during pregnancy.

Anyway, everything I've ever heard about drinking alcohol during pregnancy is one big "don't."

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "There is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy. Alcohol can affect the fetus throughout pregnancy. It is best not to drink at all while you are pregnant. If you did drink alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, you can reduce the risk of further harm to the baby by stopping drinking."

So, imagine my surprise to hear from a bunch of new moms that their doctors and midwives gave the OK to have a small drink in the third trimester.

Responses from moms in my social network circles include the following OKs from their doctors or midwives:

  • Red wine, one glass a day

  • Six ounces per glass, two separate times per week

  • OK to have an occasional drink, especially at the end of pregnancy

  • Midwife OK'd a glass of wine during last trimester

Jen L., mother of two, says her doctor told her, "According to the surgeon general, no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. However, in many parts of the world a glass of wine is considered fine once a week or so." She wrapped it up with, "I myself had a French pregnancy." Jen added, "I had a glass of wine when I wanted during pregnancy. Funny thing was I didn't want it very often and I never wanted more than one."

Sarah Owens, C.N.M., M.P.H. explains, "When I discuss this issue with women, my focus is making sure discussion is focused on what works for them — some women would be extremely averse to any alcohol consumption, others would like to have a glass of wine at a wedding without feeling like they did something dangerous. I give the recommendation that they should avoid alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and if they do consume any it should be limited to one drink — wine or beer, no hard liquor — per day in the third trimester because the fetus is still working on brain development. My reasoning has been that rare exposures carry less threat than more frequent/heavier use."

Personally, I wouldn't risk it, but clearly some health care providers aren't as stringent with ACOG's guidelines. Be sure to talk to yours before deciding whether to have an occasional sip of alcohol at any time during pregnancy.

Read more

Don't booze shame pregnant women or moms with kids
Dads can also cause fetal alcohol syndrome
Should you drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

Tags: alcohol during pregnancy


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