Yes or No: Can Pregnant Women Have Champagne on New Year’s?

You’re pregnant, which means you’ve been hit by a long list of “no-no’s” about food and drink.  No brie cheese; no alfalfa sprouts; maximum 1 caffeine drink daily; tuna not more than twice weekly; and to top it all off, no drinking alcohol. None at all. For 9 months. The foods aren’t so challenging to give up  – seriously, how often were you eating alfalfa sprouts, anyway? It’s the occasional glass of red that’s the killer. Why not one glass of red wine? Just one. Even just once a week. We’re not talking alcoholism here – we’re talking an enjoyable way to wind down one evening here and there. So why is it that doctors recommend against pregnant women drinking alcohol recreationally?

In a nutshell: Because no one knows the impact alcohol might have on a fetus, you’re better safe than sorry. The main concern is neurological damage, especially during the first few weeks of pregnancy, when the nervous system initially develops. Beyond that time period, the effects of alcohol are not quantifiable. Experts agree that binge drinking can lead to babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but are uncertain as to whether even a small amount of alcohol could cause damage. So, better to stay completely away.

All this having been said, if you want to indulge in a glass of red wine, or New Year’s Eve champagne, is it really risky? After all, look at the French pregnant women, enjoying their glass of red at the nearest restaurant café  or at home, cozy in front of the TV – night in, night out. And anyway, isn’t that glass of red reportedly good for your heart, according to Mayo Clinic and other medical advisors?

Listen. No doctor is going to give advice without reason. At the same time, you are empowered, as the future mother of your child, to make decisions. If you really want to have an alcoholic drink, here are some guidelines to limit its effects:

  1. Wait until the 2nd or 3rd trimester.
  2. Eat a full meal, with ample carbohydrates, protein, and two glasses of water before drinking alcohol.
  3. Talk to your OB/GYN about a recommended maximum number of alcoholic beverages per week.

IMPORTANT: If you feel that the above guidelines are too limiting for you, then  you might have a problem with alcohol. Seek help immediately – for your general health and that of your unborn child.

Again, staying away from alcohol altogether will ensure no ill effects from it. At Miami OBGYN we advise against drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Nevertheless, we respect your decision, based on reasonable intake guidelines, and we leave it to you. Whatever you decide, we wish you a very happy and healthy new year for you and your growing family.