Drinking While Gestating

Okay – this is a touchy one. One that I don’t actually feel the need (or interest, really) to answer. The medical recommendations range from complete abstinence to a glass of wine every once in a while after the first trimester is okay to it’s only okay to indulge during the last trimester to one drink a night won’t hurt anything. No, what I want to talk about, which is equally touchy, is the dance everyone plays around pregnancy and drinking. Here are a few scenarios:

Preggo has a glass of wine: This is probably the scenario you expected me to talk about, so let’s get it out of the way. I am of the humble opinion that it’s preggo’s decision to drink or not drink (although I do allow for her partner to have some input here within reason), so if she wants a drink, let her have a drink. She doesn’t need a lecture about potential harm to the baby or a risk benefit analysis to determine if the pleasure of a glass of wine is worth the potential harm (and subsequent guilt related to said harm) that could come from indulging in a glass of wine.

Equally important (and this is the one most people miss), she doesn’t need a “that’s so great that you feel comfortable drinking” reaffirmation either. She just needs to be treated like someone who is allowed to make the decision regarding whether or not she feels like she can have/wants to have a drink. It’s as simple as that. Sure, if she feels uneasy and you think a little “I drank when I was pregnant” anecdote will help her relax, launch in (you’ve probably already given her countless amounts of other advice she didn’t ask for already, some of which she’ll take to heart, so why stop now). But the whole “I completely approve of what you’re doing” song and dance makes us feel more guilty about the half beer we’re sipping on, as all of a sudden it’s become an act with political and social ramifications and not just a fucking beer every now and again. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Which leads me to:

Preggo turns down a glass of wine: You would think this would be completely uncontroversial, but you would be wrong. Because of the ambiguity about the potential effects of alcohol on a fetus, anecdotal and cultural experiences that don’t adhere to the What to Expect While You’re Expecting “no amount of alcohol is safe” mantra (look at the French, everyone loves to say), and the general opinion that preggos are way too uptight and self righteous to begin with, lots of people (with and without children of their own) love to talk at length about how it’s completely okay to have a drink or two every now and again throughout pregnancy. This means that the preggo who turns down a glass of wine may be faced with the more common “oh, I forgot you were pregnant – would you like a glass of water” response, or the “oh, you know you can have a glass if you want to”/”I drank throughout my entire pregnancy” response. Does everyone see how the later is just as condescending as the “drinking can hurt your unborn child” lecture?

So where am I going with this?

Good question. People will forever continue to say stupid things to each other, and especially to pregnant women, so I’m not trying to start a revolution or anything. I’m just trying to point out that in the same way it is presumptive and rude to quiz a non-pregnant person on why he either orders a beer with dinner or opts for a diet coke, it’s no different when dealing with we preggos. Even though the stakes seem higher, or the opportunity to buck the conservative/puritanical anti-alcohol American culture seems greater, it’s the same damn thing. Of course you are going to keep judging our decisions as bold or prudish, in the same way I judge the fat ass who orders the large sandwich with extra mayo, but even in all my rudeness I still manage to hold my tongue in fatty’s presence. So regardless of what I choose on any given occasion, let me enjoy my half beer or seltzer water in peace.

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One Response to “Drinking While Gestating”

  1. Hmmm Says:

    Ever since your blog started appearing on Waldo’s Cville blogs aggregator I have been occasionally glancing at your entries. While well enough written, they are uniformly unpleasant to read. Your tone is vain, your knowledge is ankle-deep, and your pretentiousness is apparently the actual main subject. Perhaps articles which don’t solely celebrate you, your appearance, and what people may or may not think about you would be welcome? This is harsh criticism, yes. Doesn’t make it less true.

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