Yesterday, one of my editors at Babble (or The Babs, as I call it) emailed out a link to an article entitled, “Moderate Drinking While Pregnant May Not Be Harmful.” The gist is that a new study shows moderate drinking (defined as up to eight drinks per week) during the early months of pregnancy is safe.
While I briefly considered how much easier it would be if I could give booze as a baby shower gift, I quickly came to my senses and replied, “Oh my god NO NO NO hellllllll no. Just soooooooo not worth it.” Then I wrote an actual, thought-out response, “While studies may show that moderate consumption is safe, I still think it’s not worth the risk. Every body is different, every pregnancy is different, and what might be safe for one mom and baby won’t be for another. Is having a drink REALLY that important to you?”
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume none of you reading today are new here, so you know that my pregnancies are not super-fun party times. I know how badly things can go when you do everything right, so I just don’t see the point in taking an unnecessary risk.
I understand how delicious alcohol can be. During all of my pregnancies, I craved Guinness so badly I literally cried about it. That’s…kind of embarrassing to admit, actually. But really, nothing had ever sounded so delicious and perfect in my entire life, and there might have been times when I was convinced that if I didn’t have a Guinness I might actually die. But I “risked death” and didn’t have a Guinness or any other alcoholic beverage, because, as I said above: having a drink was actually not THAT important to me. I had plenty of meals that would have been perfectly complimented with wine, attended lots of celebrations that called for a toast with champagne, and sat on the edge of many pools that practically begged for a frozen daiquiri, but I didn’t have any of them. Why? Because I knew I was the one responsible for my unborn child’s well-being. One drink might have satisfied my craving, but what if that one drink had been the tipping point for my baby?
I’m 33 years old next week, so I’ve been drinking for…let’s say 12 years. I’ve had lots of alcohol over those twelve years, but the crazy thing is that I could have four drinks one night and four drinks another night, and have a completely different reaction. Hell, there are nights when ONE drink gives me a hangover. What if my baby was very sensitive? Fetal Alcohol Syndrome isn’t a temporary condition – it impacts every aspect of a child’s life, for the entirety of that child’s life. I just haven’t ever been able to justify my temporary pleasure against the risk of my child’s permanent disabilities.
But, like anything, it’s personal, right? It isn’t worth the risk to me, but maybe it is for others. Life is full of risks, and we all have to evaluate them against our own conscience. What are we willing to live with? Is this glass of expensive red wine worth risking a possible hangover? Hell yes, says my non-pregnant brain. But would it be worth it if I was fifteen weeks pregnant? Considering I still beat myself up over Maddie’s premature birth which I didn’t do anything to cause…no. For me, it is not worth the risk.