As a woman who enjoys a cocktail or an evening glass of vino, I feared that giving up my alcohol was going to be the hardest part of pregnancy. Forget contractions and pushing, saying goodbye to margaritas for nine months was going to hurt the worst. Some friends tried to console me and tell me that it would be OK if I did some light drinking here and there, yet others warned I should make peace with no nightcaps and stay away from alcohol. Which raised the question: Can you have a drink while pregnant? I wanted a definite answer before raising a glass at the next party.
The combo of pregnancy and alcohol is a tricky one to tackle. The main reason being that there is no way to have definitive results since everyone's body reacts differently to alcohol. "No one knows exactly what potential harmful effects even the smallest amount of alcohol can have on a developing baby," according to the website for Baby Center. So to stay on the cautious side, the American Pregnancy Association's website recommended avoiding any alcohol consumption while pregnant, since there is no known amount that it consider to be safe.
Furthermore, most professionals agree that you should stop drinking alcohol once you start trying to become pregnant. As soon as you become pregnant, your body starts working to nourish your growing baby. To explain how alcohol can effect your little bun, The March of Dimes explained it like this: "When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol in your blood quickly passes through the placenta and the umbilical cord to your baby." In other words, the alcohol is able to get into your baby's system soon after you have a drink.
One way to imagine what could happen to your baby if you have a beer, is to think about the size of your liver compared to that of a baby. Although an adult liver is capable of processing alcohol, a fetus's growing liver is not ready to take on that task, as the website for Health magazine pointed out. Which is why it's difficult to find any medical professionals who will give the thumbs up for having a drink while pregnant.
The social pressure and personal desires to drink during your pregnancy can be very real and at times feel hard to resist. Ultimately, it's your choice to make, and knowing the potential risks will put things into perspective. As for me, I realized that I didn't miss my margaritas as much as I thought, and knowing that I was taking every precaution to help my baby be as healthy as possible made me feel confident I was doing the right thing.