Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can be a controversial topic, but its actual riskiness is still being researched. Although many professionals recommend abstaining from alcohol entirely during pregnancy, perhaps certain points of the pregnancy are more vulnerable to negative effects from alcohol than others. So is it safer to drink wine in early pregnancy or late, at least as far as research shows? The answer is complicated.
For the most part, there isn't a ton of research on the safety of light alcohol consumption at various stages of pregnancy. Even researchers have noted this lack of evidence. "Despite the distinction between light drinking and abstinence being the point of most tension and confusion for health professionals and pregnant women and contributing to inconsistent guidance and advice now and in the past, our extensive review shows that this specific question is not being researched thoroughly enough, if at all," said Senior Research Associate Dr. Loubaba Mamluk, in a release for BMJ Open. Basically, it's understood that abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy is beneficial, whereas drinking heavily during pregnancy is associated with birth defects, as well as fetal alcohol syndrome, as noted in Kids Health. But when it comes to the middle ground of, say, having one glass of wine a week, the research is pretty sparse.
One study did find that consuming alcohol during the first trimester may not necessarily lead to terrible health problems for mom or baby. During the baby's first 15 weeks of gestation, there does not appear to be a connection between alcohol consumption and lowered birth weight, preterm birth, or preeclampsia, as a 2013 study of 5,628 pregnant persons in Obstetrics And Gynecology found. Granted, much more research is needed to understand the exact safety of consuming alcohol this early in a pregnancy. But at the very least, you might not need to worry about the glass of wine you had before knowing you were pregnant.
As far as the effects of light alcohol consumption in the later days of pregnancy, there does not seem to be much information available at all. This does not mean that it's a better or worse time to drink than the early stages of pregnancy, though, just that it isn't known.
Really, consuming alcohol of any amount during pregnancy is a touchy topic for many people. Even if it turns out that low to moderate alcohol consumption does not harm a pregnancy, as a systematic review in Obstetrics & Gynecology determined, that doesn't clear up matters entirely. There's still the problem of defining what exactly "low to moderate" alcohol usage means for each individual pregnant woman.
Because the dangers of consuming alcohol in any amount during pregnancy are still under investigation, some experts recommend abstaining from alcohol entirely as a precaution. “Any drinking is going to put your child at risk,” said Clark Denny, a CDC epidemiologist, in Expecting Science. “You should not drink if you are pregnant, are considering getting pregnant or even if you could possibly get pregnant.” At least pregnancy doesn't last forever, and you can celebrate the arrival of your child with a glass of red wine very soon.