Growing up, drinking was never a big thing for me. My parents rarely drank and apparently in high school I was hanging out with the wrong crowd; because while my peers were getting wasted at house parties, I was raving about the wonders of Simply Lemonade.
So needless to say, witnessing how much drinking was a part of adult, social life came as a bit of a surprise. I was surprised that some folks seemed to get uncomfortable when I mentioned that I didn’t plan on drinking for the night. Eventually, I would find cocktails I like and I do sip every once in a while, (mimosas are my fave); but, I still don’t view alcohol as a requirement when I step out. I know that a lot of people do though; but I thought, for sure, that the one time folks would avoid alcohol completely was when they were pregnant.
I was wrong about that too. I remember once going out with a pregnant acquaintance who was celebrating her birthday. When everyone else ordered their cocktails, she quietly and sheepishly ordered a glass of wine, rationalizing that a little wouldn’t hurt right? I was shocked! But she wasn’t the only one. Women who weren’t even pregnant, talked about how they planned to drink a little bit during gestation because their doctor friends had told them it was all right in moderation. Well, ok then, to each her own.
But to me, all of this just seemed so risky. We all know that the a fetus receives nutrients through the mother’s bloodstream, the placenta and then onto the fetus’ bloodstream. Even if you’re drinking in small amounts, that’s still going directly into your baby’s blood stream. And what seems like a small glass of wine to you, is not so small to a growing baby, especially when it’s not being digested first. The whole drinking while pregnant notion sounded a bit selfish. I kept thinking if you can’t give up alcohol for 9 months, are you really ready to handle the other sacrifices that will inevitably come, for the sake of your child?
But maybe I have the whole thing wrong because a recent UK study found that drinking in moderation, two units of alcohol (i.e. a glass of wine or a half pint of beer) a week, didn’t pose any threat to children. The study which has been going on for over a decade categorized pregnant women into four groups: abstainers, light drinkers, drinkers etc. Researchers then studied the children after birth, measuring cognitive abilities, emotional development and behavior. They found that the light drinkers had children with no deficits compared to the children of abstainers. Surprisingly they found that the children of the women who drank lightly had fewer behavioral problems and higher cognitive abilities.
Despite the findings, the study is not carte blanche for women to be able to drink with reckless abandon, believing it will make their children intelligent and well behaved. There are obviously other factors that contribute to these characteristics. Plus there are some people who have a negative reaction to alcohol. Whether that be the mother or the child, drinking even lightly could still pose a potential threat. But the study is interesting considering it goes against everything we’ve been told from medical professionals for years now.
It’ll be interesting to see if the results of this study affect the women who were on the fence about completely eliminating alcohol during gestation. Will health professionals start issuing guidelines and portion controls rules about pregnant drinking?
Like I said, personally, drinking is not a big deal to me so I’m sure I won’t even consider sipping while I’m pregnant. There are just too many things that can go wrong during pregnancy; that if I could control this one thing, I wouldn’t feel comfortable risking it.
What about you though? Did you already drink during your pregnancy? Do the findings of this study change your beliefs about drinking during gestation? Is it something you feel comfortable doing?