This has been a huge topical debate since I can remember. When our parents were pregnant with us, the health warnings that came with drinking and smoking was different to what is being advised now.
Before I found out I was pregnant I was a smoker and drinker. I loved my wine and loved nothing more than going to my local, meeting friends, having a large glass of Savvy B and lighting up a cigarette. But as soon as I found out I was, I stopped, immediately. I stopped smoking straight away. I didn’t even think about alternative devices to help me quit and the same with alcohol. I have seen friends drink and smoke their way daily through pregnancy but I was too scared to put my baby’s health in danger, especially, especially in the first 3 months. I haven’t smoked in 4 months, 8 days and 16 hours, that’s a total of 1,297 cigarettes I’ve not smoked and saved myself £260 in the process. How mad is that?!
According to Public Health England (PHE), in England in 2014 to 2015, 11.4% of mothers were recorded as smokers at the time of delivery according to Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) data. This accounts for 70,880 out of 622,640 maternities. Encouraging pregnant women to stop smoking during pregnancy may also help them stop smoking for good. This offers health benefits for the mother but also reduces exposure to secondhand smoke for the infant. National guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) outlines interventions to support stopping smoking in pregnancy and after childbirth.
I’ve had a glass of wine, a wine spritzer or half a Guinness a few times over the past 6 weeks. With all the bad press that comes with drinking, if you don’t have more than one or two, having a drink when pregnant I believe is fine. I do love my fruit ciders but have refused to touch it being pregnant, it’s up there with my rare steak I’ll be having on my cheat day after she’s born. According to Time.com in 2013 they reported reassuring 1 in 13 pregnant women in the U.S. (or the 50% of pregnant women in the UK) who don’t want to give up booze for nine months: Light drinking during pregnancy — up to 2 units of alcohol a week — does not increase the risk of children developing adverse behavioral or cognitive abilities, reports a study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.” I’m not saying go mad every day of the week like your pre-pregnant self, with a bottle of wine after work or going overboard as soon as the weekend starts but I do think you should, after the initial 3 months, if craving a glass of wine, have it. But mix it up, throw in some ice and lemonade or soda, or have a non alcoholic beer if you feel you can’t face having an alcoholic one. According to livescience.com ‘whether drinking small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy affects the mind of the unborn child is a topic of much current research, and now new findings suggest there are key lifestyle differences between pregnant women who sip and those who don’t that most research on the topic hasn’t taken into account. ‘ their research in Denmark showed…’Looking at data gathered on more than 63,000 pregnant women in Denmark, the study researchers found that women who said they drank a small amount of alcohol during their pregnancies tended to be healthier, in many ways, than the women who said they completely abstained from alcohol upon learning they were pregnant.’
The government’s chief medical officer recommends that pregnant women should avoid alcohol. But it comes with an important rider, namely that “if you do opt to have a drink, you should stick to no more than one or two units of alcohol (equivalent to one or two small glasses of wine) once or twice a week to minimise the risk to your baby”. [source: The Guardian].
If you are to drink, this is what 1 unit of alcohol looks like:
‘Heavy, regular or binge drinking can cause miscarriage and premature birth (BMA 2007: 2; 9, Nykjaer 2014, RCM 2010). Too much alcohol can even increase the risk of your baby being stillborn (RCOG 2006a, RCM 2010). If you drink too much alcohol during pregnancy, it can permanently damage your developing baby’s cells.’ [Source: baby centre.co.uk]. I absolutely do not agree with heavy drinking when pregnant and those that do are giving their children a life sentence of uncertainty. A girl I know drank heavily everyday throughout her pregnancy and when her son was born, although late, was the size of a premature baby. He was tiny. Although at a normal weight and size now, who knows what type of complications he may have had during his early life or later in his future. If alcohol is not something you want to give a go whilst pregnant there are plenty of options for us out there too from non-alcoholic beer to sparkling grape juice, alcohol-free wine or mocktails.
Do what you think is right.