Moderation in All Things — Except One?

So, yeah, drinking while pregnant. I saw this topic first in the New York Post, and then again at Slate.

I think we can all agree that drinking a lot of alcohol at any point in a pregnancy is bad. And by “a lot” I mean daily, even one serving a day. That seems like it would be excessive. Even more than one glass of wine or beer a week, especially in the first trimester, seems needlessly risky.

What slays me about this topic are the comments, especially on the Slate article. The ones I especially hate are the ones who are like, “Good luck with your FAS child.” (FAS = Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.) That’s a terrible thing to say to someone. Of course, we all know that the Internet comment board is not the most civil of places, but come on. A mother who has a glass or two of wine in the entirety of her pregnancy, or even in the course of the third trimester, is not going to have a child with FAS. Now, whether or not a doctor should tell a woman that… well, that’s between a woman’s doctor and her.

And for that matter: Doctors and midwives are probably not going to change the party line on this, and they probably shouldn’t. “Moderation” means different things to different people.

The second type of comment that I don’t like are the ones that are like, “It’s the patriarchy trying to keep women down!” I mean, really? Suggesting that abstaining from alcohol while you are pregnant is keeping women oppressed? I would be tempted to look into that “equal pay for equal work” thing first.

When I got pregnant with Gabriel, Dan said to me sternly, “You are not allowed to drink alcohol.” I freaking blew my stack at him. We had a HUGE fight.

But it wasn’t because I was set on drinking. I had no intention of drinking alcohol while I was pregnant.

It was because he was telling me what to do. I HATE being told what to do. (Ask my dad about telling me I to take typing in high school. Like on a real typewriter. That went over with me like a load of bricks.)

(I did it anyway. And now I can touch type 80 words a minute, TYVM.)

The night before I went into the hospital to be induced with Flora, Dan and I — on midwives’ orders — went out to dinner, including, for me, a nice glass of red wine. A man at a nearby table remarked, “I’m sure that wine is good for the baby” clearly meaning NOT, and I smiled at him and said, “I’m being induced tomorrow. My midwife told me to have a glass of wine tonight.” That shut him up.

It’s the whole culture of judgement that revolves around pregnant women that really frosts me, I guess. The list of prohibitions is endless, and suddenly everything I am doing or not doing as a soon-to-be mom (again) is everyone’s business. Look at the prohibition against caffeine. I didn’t even hear about that when I was pregnant with Gabriel or Flora. Now women lament the loss of their lattes, too.

I guess my point is: I am an educated woman with healthcare providers I trust. I will get the care I need and take the proper precautions to deliver a health baby — you better believe it! Whether that involves a cup of regular coffee every day or 4 ounces of wine two or three times in my final trimester isn’t anyone’s business. (Except for Dan’s. He does still sometimes tell me what to do. It’s cute.) I don’t know why we are bothering to revisit the debate. Unless it’s exactly to stir the pot and get lots of nasty, judgmental comments on a site. In that case, carry on.

19 thoughts on “Moderation in All Things — Except One?

  1. There was a woman on one of the local news outlets talking about some crime in her neighborhood. She looked like she hasnt bathed in weeks, was incredibly pregnant, smoking a cigarette in one hand and holding an infant in her other hand. THAT is something would comment on. Unless I saw you down a box of wine I wouldn’t think twice about it.
    1) old people need to shut up. they still think Kennedy is in office.
    2) internet boards about any form of parenting are for the most part (not all cuz some i found useful) psycho-moms who need attention
    3) old people smell

  2. I wonder if those kinds of comments are people projecting their own intolerance for the disabled onto anyone they can possibly find to blame.

  3. My own experience with this is somewhat limited, but I do recall this: When my Type-A sister was in her third trimester with her first son, her OB/GYN told her it was perfectly fine to have an occasional beer if it would help her relax as her due date approached. She did, and she said it helped.

    And her first son — my oldest nephew, who turns 11 in about a week — has been in gifted classes since he started school.

    • That’s a good OB/GYN! I think health care providers know their patients pretty well, and they can make good calls about who is going to hear “moderation” they way they intend it.

      Is your oldest nephew how you got your lovely moniker? I would love to hear that story!

  4. It’s amazing what people find the need to comment on to a pregnant woman. I’d never in a million years tell someone else what they need to do for themselves while pregnant. I mean, clearly that person is an adult (hopefully) and can make decisions for themselves.

    I know a lot of women who have had wine while pregnant (maybe three or four times) to help with the Braxton Hicks pain towards the end. The baby and Mama are fine. What’s the big freaking deal?

    Now, I know I previously mentioned how I felt a little icky serving beer to a very pregnant woman once before, but that was simply because I could tell it wasn’t her first beer of the day. And probably wouldn’t be her last.

    I just wrote about how recently someone said to me, “Hey, I heard you were 5 months pregnant. There’s no way you’re that pregnant. And if you are, then you’re starving your baby you stupid, skinny bitch.”

    I mean, really? Why do people judge women when they’re pregnant?

    And don’t get me started on when you tell people what you’re thinking of naming your kid. Let’s just say after 2 1/2 pregnancies, I’m done giving anything away.

    • Did you see this post of mine? I did it earlier this year based on the stuff I saw going on in my twitter stream. People are unbelievable.

      I have always carried small — I am a skinny bitch. 😉 Even now at 32/33 weeks, I am all belly. Some people think I’m not close to my date at all, and some people think I’m ready to pop. (I feel much more the latter.) But to comment on it in such a rude way! Gah! That person deserves to be hit!

      I don’t mention names. I have a coworker who’s been asking me for FIVE MONTHS now. I finally told her Aragorn (from LOTR) to get her to stop.

  5. I avoided all alcohol in the first trimester when it counted most. After that, I had a glass of wine or a beer here or there on a sporadic basis. Even that petered out toward the end because I was already dealing with heartburn that set my ears on fire and wine only made that muuuuuuuuuuuuch worse. I never touched hard liquor while pregnant – not even a single sip.

    I also find the whole “you’re breastfeeding, DON’T DRINK, YOU LUSH!” argument to be full of hogwash. Does some get in the milk? Yes, but it’s a small fraction of what’s in my bloodstream. It burns off pretty quickly, too. If having a beer helped my colic-y infant sleep a little bit better at night after 8 or 10 horrible nights in a row, you can bet I was sucking on the neck of that bottle.

    I firmly believe our attitudes as a country on this issue are rooted way back in our Puritanical, tee totaling past.

    As far as caffeine is concerned, I blame over-reactive pregnant women. The recommendation from my OB’s (in 2008/2009) was still no more than 300 mg of caffeine a day while pregnant. That’s the equivalent of two cups of coffee. If you want that latte once a day – HAVE IT. The only reason I avoided caffeine is because I had kidney stones in my first pregnancy and avoided anything that would dehydrate me easily. But, a lot of pregnant women hear “limit your intake” and run all the way to “if too much is bad, it’s all bad! It’s the devil! Avoid it!”

    I, too, hate the attitude that the second you get knocked up, your life and your identity means nothing. You are but a receptacle for the life growing inside you and if avoiding everything except bread, water, and prenatal vitamins is what’s best for baby, by God, you should do it. It’s like women turn their brains off and don’t even think things through. If soft cheeses are bad when made with unpasteurized milk, avoid imported soft cheeses and read the damn label. I ate brie while pregnant – one that was domestically produced with pasteurized milk.

    I hate that pregnant women act like they’ve forgotten their brains behind in the bedroom as soon as conception has occurred.

    • I think leaving my brain behind OUTSIDE of the bedroom is what got me in this mess in the first place. 😉 You bet I’m going to use it to the hilt the rest of the time!

      And yes, you make a lot of good points: overreaction, a Puritanical mindset. I’ve told many a friend who got pregnant after me that there was simply too much information out there. I think women should talk to their healthcare providers and their partners, and use “what-to-expect” type books and websites as sparingly as possible. Before Gabriel was born, I made the mistake of reading the “What can go wrong” chapter of WTEWYE — and I called Dan in tears. Talk about needing a drink!

      And maybe that’s another point: Instead of fretting about other women’s choices, maybe we should make health care available to every woman so she can get good prenatal care. Make that the baseline. And then trust us. Is that really so hard? (Oh, and, trust yourself. That one should be emphasized, too.)

      • I don’t even own a copy of WTEWYE for that very reason. It’s also reason I quit reading “your pregnancy week by week.” All it does is freak people out about all the things that could go wrong.

  6. I wasn’t planning on getting pregnant so I was actually pretty buzzed (read drunk) a couple times before I found out I was pregnant. It freaked my husband out so I didn’t drink again till my third trimester when my midwife told me to take a bath and drink half a glass of wine every evening to lower my blood pressure. It worked. And yes, my kid is fine.

    Personally, I think it’s more important to limit your intake of processed sugars, food colorings, and msg during pregnancy than to avoid an occasional glass of wine. But like almost all things, I would never share my opinion with someone else unless they asked me. I really, really hate it when people tell me how to parent.

    • I am sure I had a drink (or four) in each of my first trimesters, very early on — that’s kind of inevitable since there’s a bit of a lag time between having the sex and figuring out you’re knocked up. My kids are FINE. (I even smoked occasionally before I took a positive test in a couple of cases. But as soon as the positive test showed up, I was DONE for the duration. I’m hoping that this time I can make quitting stick.)

      I agree about eating healthy, too. I mean, I don’t think we should be too hard on ourselves if we can’t get 100% organic, non-processed foods all the time. But to eat better — in general, not just when pregnant — should be a goal for everyone, not just pregnant women.

  7. I’m a firm believer in “everything in moderation.” I’ve had a glass of wine here and there in each of my pregnancies. I was told by the nurse who did our initial appointment when I was pregnant with Deacon that I was allowed to have sushi if I wished, because a) my husband worked at that restaurant and had intimate knowledge of where the food was coming in from, b) we knew the owners and were very comfortable with them, and c) I knew they wouldn’t give me anything they wouldn’t let their own wives eat when they were pregnant. I went out for sushi within a few nights of that appointment to celebrate my first anniversary.

    I also had a very similar experience to you the night before Deacon was born. Went out for dinner with my husband and best friend, then went for dessert at another restaurant. I had half a glass of wine there, and the bartender looked at me like I was completely insane for drinking. I told her I was going in to be induced that night and my doctor had suggested I have half a glass if I wished, to calm myself down.

    Internet message boards make things so much more awful when you really think about it. The women who post on them are far too judgmental for their own good. I participated in a thread on recently where we managed to have a civil conversation about drinking while pregnant. To say I was shocked would be a huge understatement.

    This is a fantastic post. Really, really awesome. 🙂

    • Wow, I may have to try to find that conversation on If you know/can find the link, post it here, please! thanks.

      It’s like @Cari says in her comment: Just because we are pregnant doesn’t mean our common sense or judgement has flown out the window. We all know how to get the information we need and make decisions that are best for us and our babies.

      And: thank you.

  8. Please, alcohol is not good for your baby. If you love your generation then stop drink alcohol.What we eat and drink when we are not pregnant may causing damaged to our fetus when we do it while pregnant.
    BTW, it’s nice writing. I like it!

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