Tag Archives: alcohol during pregnancy

Ask Holly: Can I Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy?

Hi Holly-

I’ve heard so many different things from everyone to my friends, doctor, mother and sisters, and I wanted to ask for advice from you.  You obviously research everything thoroughly and I will follow whatever recommendation you have.  Can I have a glass of wine or a beer while I’m pregnant?  Thank you!

Amanda G.

Los Angeles, CA

Hi Amanda!

Thanks so much for asking such an important question- and having such confidence in my advice!  That means a lot to me.

Yes, it seems like everyone you talk to you has a different opinion on the safety of alcohol during pregnancy.  With my first pregnancy, I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol once I found out I was having a baby.  My thinking was this: There is absolutely no reason why I need to drink, it doesn’t sound good at all, and if there is any chance at all it can do any harm, why risk it?

This time around I have a more relaxed approach (to everything about my pregnancy actually) and I will have an occasional sip of wine or beer.

Recently a study came out that showed women who drank moderately during pregnancy had smarter babies who were better adjusted and hit their developmental milestones faster.   I can agree with this since my grandmother was advised to drink a beer every night while she was pregnant with my dad to ward off morning sickness, and my dad is the most brilliant man I know.

However, I personally doubt the recent findings have anything to do with the alcohol consumed, and more to do with the type of mother who is more laid back in her approach to life thereby reducing the stress her baby is exposed to, is educated enough to limit her consumption to a minimal amount, and will parent accordingly.

On the other hand, many physicians I respect say there is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.

In his book, From First Kicks to First Steps, Dr. Alan Greene advises against any alcohol during pregnancy in the first trimester, which most of us have heard since this is such a vital time for organ development. However, he also strongly warns us not to drink at all during the third trimester either- a time period when most expectant mothers feel it is the safest:

“Drinking alcohol even once during the third trimester can permanently damage the brain of your baby. Alcohol has its biggest effects when the synapses (connections) of the brain are forming-during the last trimester of pregnancy and the early childhood years. When the developing baby is exposed to alcohol for even a few hours, a number of brain cells and synapses are permanently deleted.”

I find that to be quite a sobering statement.

And Dr. Tori Hudson, in Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Alternative Therapies and Integrative Medicine for Total Health and Wellness says, “There are two periods of pregnancy when the maternal consumption of alcohol is particularly threatening to the fetus: from the 12th to the 18th week and from the 24th to the 35th week.”

So with all of this information, what should we do? I can’t make the decision for you one way or the other. As with everything else you are questioning, talk to your midwife or obstetrician about it.

As for me, I will have a tiny glass of wine or a few sips of beer when it sounds good as long as it’s not during the crucial times highlighted above- which is basically only the 19th-23rd weeks. Wow- I only have 3 more weeks to swig!

mommy's sippy cup and sophie the giraffe

The rest of the time, I indulge in natural ginger ale, sparkling water with a twist of lime, and good old fashioned water.

Congratulations, thanks for your question, and Cheers!