Pregnancy & Parenting
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Drinking alcohol while *trying* to get pregnant....Is it safe?


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My question is pretty clear in the title. Is it okay to drink occassionally when I am not using birth control and could possibly become pregnant?

In other words, when does alcohol begin to affect the embryo? At conception or after some development?

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alcohol affects the embryo for the moment of implantation.  whatever happens to be developing at the time the alcohol is consumed will be affected.  and it's not like you're going to know you're pregnant the moment it happens; you could be drinking alcohol on a regular basis for weeks before you know.

Original Post by pgeorgian:

alcohol affects the embryo for the moment of implantation.  whatever happens to be developing at the time the alcohol is consumed will be affected.  and it's not like you're going to know you're pregnant the moment it happens; you could be drinking alcohol on a regular basis for weeks before you know.

That's one thing I never understood.
What about women that drink wine at dinners and end up finding out they are pregnant 8 weeks in, does that do harm to the child? Or with that short of length, so long as they aren't getting drunk each night, is it too small of an amount to be considered unhealthy to the baby?

the research hasn't been able to pin down a safe threshold.  partly this is because it varies so much from person to person, and partly it's because many of the effects go undiagnosed.  and--of course--research is difficult because you can't ethically give alcohol to pregnant women.  the data are dependent on self-reporting, retrospective information, and other unreliable, uncontrolled factors.

also--and this is something they won't tell you in the doc's office or on TV--teratogenic effects are much more severe in older mothers.  young moms seem to have a resistance.  dunno why.

but like i said, the effects start at implantation, not at conception, so if you've been drinking when you conceive, you're safe, provided that you stop drinking within a week or ten days. 

you're right; most people don't know they're pregnant until three or four weeks after conception, but if you're actively trying, you have the choice to avoid alcohol.  right?

Well, you don't actually share a blood line with the baby until 6 weeks....and by that stage you may have missed a period or taken a test so you should know if you're pregnant or not.Best bet is to cut back on alcohol & start getting healthier in preparation for the following 9 months ahead anyway.

Good Luck!

Just practice moderation--I had an occasional glass of wine throughout my pregnancy, and during my 9th week in France, I had a glass with dinner every night.  If you do a little research, you'll learn that much of the rest of the world doesn't seem so uptight about alcohol consumption.  Go with you instincts; I did and I have a perfectly healthy baby boy.

I do not recommend drinking at all when there is clearly no "safe" level during pregnancy. So you lay off the liquor for a while--big deal. It is a selfish mother who would choose to drink knowing that she could harm her baby and it is an ignorant one who thinks that she is immune to this happening. You could play Russian Roulette with your child, but then you could lose. Why take the chance when it is completely avoidable.

You need to choose which is more important to you--your potential baby or a drink.

I think that's the way I got pregnant........Undecided

According to the March of Dimes website, drinking alcohol while trying to conceive can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant.  And drinking before or during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, low birthweight and heart defects.  This is a great link to browse, as it give you a list of ways to get healthy prior to conception.

Also from the March of Dimes website, on drinking just after conception.

This is an interesting article on drinking once a week during pregnancy.

This Associated Press article suggests it is a good idea to stop drinking if you are trying to conceive.

That said, I did drink occasionally when I became pregnant with my son.  I became pregnant shortly before Christmas, and my husband and I attended several parties where we both consumed alcohol.  After the holdiays, some of my family were in town, and we had a few drinks one evening while we visited.  I wasn't binge drinking, I quit drinking all together once I found out I was pregnant, and my son turned out fine.  You probably don't have anything to worry about, but why chance it?  I've also heard that alcohol consumption can lead to male infertility, so if you are trying to conceive, it's probably a good idea for both you and your partner to refrain from drinking. 

here's the thing: maybe you drink a little during pregnancy and you're lucky enough to have a "perfectly healthy" child.  but you'll never know if that small amount of alcohol limited your child's potential.  it may not be noticable, measurable, or diagnosable, but maybe it's the difference between your kid being a doctor and being a nobel-prize-winning doctor.

the point is, nobody knows.  if you want to risk it, that's your choice, but make sure you know what you're risking.

it's worth noting, too, that babies who were exposed to alcohol in utero are more likely to grow up to be addicted adults (not to mention under-educated, under-employed, and incarcerated adults).

i'm really shocked to see people here advocating drinking while pregnant.  choosing it for yourself is one thing; suggesting that other women do it is just incredibly arrogant.

I hope you're not referring to my post, pgeorgian.  I didn't realize I was pregnant when I had a few drinks, and I didn't drink another drop after I found out.  I may not have been clear in my original post.  All in all, I agree with you.  I don't believe it's worth the risk to drink while pregnant, and if you are actively trying to conceive, or even not preventing pregnancy, why take the chance? 

no, cecily, i followed you.  i was referring to #5.

Thanks for all the reponses everyone. I didnt think this topic would really start a debate. My fiance and I plan to start trying after we go on a cruise and we were discussing when we should stop using birth control. I would like to enjoy the cruise, which means having a drink or two, so I guess the safest bet would be to continue using bc until we are home.

Thanks for the info!

In response to pgeorgian, I'm not advocating alcohol consumption, by the way, just letting folks know that many other cultures in the world seem to be a little less extreme than our own culture.  Do as you please.  As I said, follow your instincts and make informed decisions for yourself.

Original Post by machatica:

In response to pgeorgian, I'm not advocating alcohol consumption, by the way, just letting folks know that many other cultures in the world seem to be a little less extreme than our own culture.  Do as you please.  As I said, follow your instincts and make informed decisions for yourself.

and many other cultures are more restrictive.

"follow your instincts" isn't always great advice; neither is "practice moderation."  for my mother (in 1967, when there was little information) it worked: someone poured her a glass of scotch when she was pregnant, she had a sip, and she felt like she was going to vomit, so she didn't drink any more.  but for someone who's even a little dependent, "following your instincts" is likely to mean "drink if you feel like it," and drinking is likely to feel better than the alternative.

your experience sounds dangerous.  it sounds like you put your child at significant risk.  i've worked with kids with different levels of fetal alcohol exposure, some known, some suspected.  and i like my booze.  i don't think it's a viable option, and the vast majority of health workers agree.

if you're comfortable with that - okay.  but there may come a day when you wonder why your kid isn't meeting expectations, and then you might start to wonder.

I just love it when the forums turn into attack forums.  I have more concern for children that don't experience the benefit of folic acid and DHA in the womb than I do for children whose mothers drink an OCCASIONAL glass of wine while pregnant.  My experience wasn't dangerous, and there was no risk to my fetus. The child is fine.  I don't appreciate your attack, as I'm not here attacking anybody else, just sharing an opinion and experience. 

hey - it's your body.  you can put whatever you want in it; that's none of my business.  my problem is with you recommending that other pregnant women can do the same, without risk, when all the research and medical wisdom says otherwise.  and that's what you did in your first post.

This may already have been stated, but I am pretty sure alcohol had a huge role in my getting pregnant with both daughters. LOL!

Joking aside if you are attempting to get pregnant, you should already be adopting a healthier lifestyle. Drinking in moderation is my thought or giving it up all together. Healthier body pre-pregnancy leads to healthier babies and easier pregnancies in most cases. The same goes for exercise...start before you become pregnant. It's like preparing for a sporting event. You can't condition your body on the day of the race. Wink

my "date" of conception was between 10/15-10/18.  I had wine on 10/31 for my birthday dinner.  That was the last day I had any alcohol until she was born.  I found out I was preggo on 11/26 I think.  Since she was a surprise; I had no idea I was pregnant-  but I'm glad I didn't go out drinking for my 30th birthday!!!  I also quit cold turkey the little bit of smoking I did (casual w/ work friends)  I think once you find out your pregnant, your body is a house for growing a newbie; and you should take every pre-caution necessary to make sure their little home is safe!!!!  it's only 9 months!!

In the culture/family I am in, it is very common for women in their 3rd trimester to drink the occasional glass of wine. I am not sure yet what I will do once I get to that point, as I do understand that there is no defined level of acceptability and my husband certainly wouldn't like the idea ...

Now in early pregnancy I won't drink a drop for sure. We had a party yesterday and my husband asked me this morning if I drank. I nearly bit his head off, LOL!

I was drinking while TTC though, as I couldn't totally put my life on hold for something which I had no idea would happen or not. This meant a glass of wine or two on occasion and one heavy night per month probably.

Luckily for this pregnancy, I did not drink too much after conception until I found out i was pregnant (2 weeks). I did have 2 glasses of wine the night before I found out though.

But no more now, gotta let the baby develop with any negative influences which I can control :)

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