Is It OK to Have a Glass of Wine When You’re Pregnant?

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Image adapted via Flickr/ 3rdCoastPhotography.net

I remember when I was pregnant for the first time, I played everything by the book. I took my prenatal vitamins, drank the recommended amount of water, moderately exercised, and I was terrified of doing anything wrong that would jeopardize my pregnancy and my baby's health.

That's what was funny about a first-time pregnant woman who had a history of miscarriage. As I grew more comfortable with my instincts, in later pregnancies, I wasn't as anxious about doing everything exactly right. I realized that there was no “right” and no “one-size-fits-all” way when it related to pregnancy, so I trusted myself and my OB, who was always straight with me.

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As the holidays approach, pregnant women are preparing for holiday parties and get-togethers and may wonder if they too have to play it all by the book and avoid all alcohol. I don't think one small sip is going to do any harm, yet for me, I avoided all of it like the plague.

But is one glass OK? The answer to this has been debated for a long time, and there are many people on all sides of the fence. Today, we're looking at three responses to the question: Is it OK to have a glass of wine when you're pregnant?

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Image via Flickr/ slettvet

Answer: No

“I'd like to weigh in on this topic. I tried to abstain from alcohol when I was pregnant because the CDC, Surgeon General, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American Academy of Pediatrics all advise women not to drink while they're pregnant.

“Why play Russian Roulette with your child's life? I think if you can't make it through nine months without having a glass of wine, then you probably have a problem. It was one of the factors that pushed me to get sober. I couldn't make it through the nine months, which made me feel guilty and ashamed for a long time.” – Carol

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Image via Flickr/ quinn.anya

Answer: Yes

“I have had a glass of wine when pregnant, and I've never had a problem — although by no means did I ever overdo it. I feel strongly that a glass every once in a while is OK, but ultimately, it's up to the individual.

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“One of the reasons that I say this is that there still hasn't been enough research conducted for medical professionals to definitively conclude that even small amounts of wine can be damaging to a baby.” – Carly

{ MORE: How to Handle Being Sick While You're Pregnant }

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Image via Flickr/ Michael Bentley

Answer: It Depends

“The consensus ‘party line' answer would be an unequivocal ‘no alcohol.' However, I can tell you as an insider [that] many OBs don't follow this rule that strictly. I am hesitant to say this, of course, as the statement needs full disclosure and explanation.

“Patients and couples should know the data and information that we know and think of things properly. The bottom-line truth is we do not know the safe level of alcohol intake for any one person during pregnancy, so the default answer one often gets is that no intake is best. And I would say that this is a true statement.

“There is no conclusive data that says one drink is bad for a pregnancy either. The problem is ‘Can a person really exercise the self-restraint and only limit it to one drink?' Then the idea is ‘How many days a week then can a pregnant woman have one drink?' Again, we don't know exactly.

“There are studies and data on both sides of this issue. So, again, we often say to patients that no alcohol intake is best — a simple rule that is easy to express and is not open to vagueness or equivocation. An interesting [side note] is that intravenous alcohol was the treatment for preterm labor years ago! (This was before my time, even. My dad was an OB/GYN, and he told me that this is what was used in his day…). So, of course, prudence and moderation are always virtues to be upheld, and I personally would tell my patients that one glass of wine a couple times a week or a NORMAL size (not Big Gulp size) alcoholic drink is OK during the holidays, but stop there.

Also, note that the holidays are limited to the week surrounding December 25 and don't last two months! So, really, this is a discussion that should be had with the OB care providers to apply to any one patient's situation, and these details need to be clarified individually so all parties are on the same page. Now one can see why the ‘no alcohol intake' rule came about — it is simply often easier for medical providers to go on record saying this.

Patients obviously need to exercise common sense and personal responsibility. Perhaps these guidelines can be of help to some, and further discussion with your OB care providers should always be the best course.” – Dr. Peter Ahlering of the Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine

What are your thoughts? Do you think one glass during pregnancy is OK? Share in the comments!

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Is It OK to Have a Glass of Wine When You’re Pregnant?

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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1 comment

  1. Jenna says:

    I think if you are having a few ounces of wine (3 or 4) maybe once a week you aren’t harming your baby in any way. I absolutely wouldn’t intake more than that however. I think many times the people that are so judgemental or against this are also the ones that don’t drink whatsoever ( due to religion mostly) or whom are too high strung during pregnancy in every possible way. That is what I have noticed with my surroundings anyway.

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