Can you drink alcohol while pregnant?
When navigating the many choices you will face while pregnant, one good rule of thumb is to remember that your diet, habits and routines can directly affect the health of your unborn child. So can you drink even minimal amounts of alcohol?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts it this way: If you drink alcohol, so does your unborn child. If you maintain a healthy diet, your child will reap the benefits.
Alice Bailes, co-director of highly rated Birthcare and Women’s Health in Alexandria, Va., says that the center recommends that women not drink at all during pregnancy, following the guidelines established by the CDC. “Although I know that there is some discussion that permits the use of alcohol during pregnancy, our practice discourages any alcohol use.”
Bailes says it is particularly important to maintain healthy habits during the first and last trimesters of your pregnancy. “This is the period when the foundation for the baby’s brain is being established,” says Bailes, who also is a certified nurse midwife. “During the last trimester, the baby’s brain development is very rapid.”
Dr. Debra Kirkpatrick, the vice chair for clinical affairs for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind., agreed it is particularly important to avoid nicotine and alcohol. “With alcohol, we still don’t know [about] the lower limits, so our recommendation is no drinking,” she said. “There is a whole fetal alcohol disorder spectrum that could result in growth delays and congenital defects. It’s pretty significant.”