Take Two Shots and Call Me in the Morning

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

These are tough times ladies. This weekend's events in Bombay are the most recent example of this and the last months have been dire. So, devis, why not pour yourself a drink. Especially if you're pregnant.

A recent University College of London study on a subject near and dear to my heart--occasional drinking during pregnancy--has concluded that not only is a couple of drinks a week absolutely fine for your unborn child but also--wait for it--it may be BETTER than absolute abstinence. In particular, the children of mothers who were characerized as "light drinkers" were less likely to have conduct and hyperactivity problems, and they also scored higher on cognitive ability assessments, than the children of the moms who didn't drink at all.

Is it my birthday??

I am pregnant with my third little monster right now--my other two are almost 3 and 1, respectively so, do the math--I have been pregnant for as much of the last 4 years (or nursing I suppose) as my sleep-deprived mind can remember. That's quite a few birthdays, anniversaries, New Years, and other assorted occasions of wide-spread merriment where I "get" to be the sober observer. I am glad that, ahem, this new study has confirmed the course of action I have already taken for my pregnancies...that glass of wine really helps when everyone you know at the party is acting, well, like a happily drunk idiot...!

In terms of the details: The scientists studied over 18,000 pregnancies (that's a nice sample size for you people who were waiting to poke statistical holes in this magical study!) and followed the mothers and children from childbirth through age 3. They measured behavioral and cognitive functions of the children at age 9 months and then again at 3 years. And before we all get too excited, "light drinking" was defined as up to 2 alcoholic drinks a week.

While OBGYNs aren't likely to start prescribing Pimms cups with our prenatals anytime soon, hopefully this study can be a harbinger of less extreme pregnancy mentalities...and less extreme motherhood mentalities, natch. We all have stories at this point of the friend or relative who went completely aggro the second she got pregnant. No "soft" cheeses, couldn't even be in the vicinity of a sushi restaurant, wore gloves when using a thermometer. (I know people who did all three of these things--and one who did all three herself...!) While I truly strive to become less of a judgmental person (isn't motherhood difficult enough without us stabbing each other in the backs?), I would be lying if I didn't think these extreme preggos were setting the stage for an extremely unbalanced life. We all read Aristotle, right? We know about the golden mean, and moderation. Most of us lived our pre-pregnancy lives relatively normally I am assuming. So what is it about a sperm and egg uniting in our uterus that makes us so intensely excessive? Is the piece of brie really gonna attack you?

Devis with child: Obviously don't drink if you don't want to! But if you feel the urge, have that glass of champagne on New Years. There are obviously more important things to worry about right now and, besides, it looks like it will do your baby good...!

By the way, many thanks to good-samaritan Josh who told me about this study...while my friend L and I were having champagne at a local bar...!
15 comments:
SAM said...

Heh. Xmas just came early. Going to go make myself an irish coffee now. Not cause I want one but cause it's good for my baby!!!

mira said...

Awesome tell me this is real?? I can remember being pregnant and having a glass of wine I'm public--the states I soul get particularly from Indian aunties. The worst part is I took the stares to heart because i didn't know any better and was so worried about what people thought. If I did it all again? Maybe I would guzzle the wine and light up a cig!! Haha joking joking.

mira said...

ugh still have yet to master the iPhone, sorry!! Stares I would get--many many stares!!!!

lr said...

I would still be scared to drink in public...too much finger pointing! But this definitely makes me think of nice bottles of wine at home next time I am pregnant!

Anonymous said...

AMEN sistahs! SERIOUSLY why do people become so friggin insane when they get pregnant?? I one hundred percent get it that you are about to become a mom and you want to do right by your child from inception but lighten up everyone! I have a friend who stopped reading real books or going to the movies and only read parenting stuff and quoted all these random things completely out of nowhere (like at lunch she would just launch into a speech about how she needed to eat prunes because if she ate prunes now her kid would go to harvard or something i dont know). anyway, i love moms, i AM a mom but i was a person before. who loved/loves her g&ts!!

Anonymous said...

okay hate to be the killjoy and i am guessing this isn't going to be a popular opinion but: why take the risk. sure, some anecdotal study says it's okay to drink (better? i don't really buy it.) but you are carrying a LIFE inside of you. would you feed your newborn a glass of wine? of course not. so why do it in utero. and what if you don't know when to stop? i think it's just selfish. go ahead stone me now.

Shanti said...

This just kills me! Finally irony is on my side. All those little sips and sneaked gulps of wine when I was pregnant was helping my son! Hahahaha I love it.

To the previous poster: Completely entitled to your opinion but do you really think it's "selfish" to have a glass of wine while pregnant? And who is absolutely selfless as a mom anyway? Is it selfish to read a magazine for yourself instead of another book to your kid? Or to go on a vacation without your children? Just curious!

Anonymous said...

interesting, but i think it's also important to ask when it's safe to start drinking. typically it's not safe to consume certain things during the first trimester b/c thats the prime time when the major organs are developing, and also the time when the fetus would most susceptible to injury. on the flip side of that, it's also a time when a nutritional deficiency (like in folate) can cause defects in the newborn (like spina bifida).

i glanced through the study, and it was a survey and not a randomized prospective trial. *shrug* also, they didn't look at potentially confounding factors at all. association doesn't necessarily equate causation. fetal alcohol syndrome is the #1 cause of mental retardation in the U.S., so i think it is important to keep that in the back of our minds when discussing alcohol during pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

just wanted to add one more thing---i guess it is impossible to do a randomized prospective trial on this kind of question, but as the study itself acknowledges, "the MCS sample is not representative of all pregnancies or births and so data on miscarriages, stillbirths and neonatal deaths were not included." if they're going to do another study, they need to look at pregnant women during their pregnancy, not just starting 9 months after birth.

Shona said...

Definitely agree with the post above that we have to be caerful not to be carried away with these sorts of studies. But also agree with the message of the post that moderation is usually a pretty good compass. As we have so often said, women in France drink their wine, women in Japan eat their sushi, la de da, ob la di ob la da!

It does seem worth noting though that many countries don't even take a hard abstinence stance on alcohol. Just another example of America's sometimes puritanism.

Anonymous said...

Pretty interesting. But as someone said above, the first trimester is crucial. so many things are forming, ie the nervous system. so i would be careful about using ANY substance during that time. Otherwise, i'm sure a glass of wine here and there can't hurt.

MC said...

Really interesting. Just skimmed the study and everyone is right: it isn't exactly a mandate to go get loaded. That being said it is surprising and sort of hilarious that there is statistical significance to the finding that the children of the light drinkers did indeed perform better on the tests administered. Confounding variables and correlation/causation aside: The finding is statistically significant. Pretty amazing and I am betting the scientists were not looking for that result!

Josh said...

I'm not a father, but I do have a mother. She swore off drinking while I was in there, and the same went for my brother and sister. Now, I think she made the right choice, and I certainly wouldn't want to see anyone going and getting blind drunk while with child, but I think there may be something to the wine/beer idea.

Martinis I wouldn't, but wine and beer both seem, in small amounts, reasonably benign inputs to the human adult body. Many authors have pointed at the nutritional benefits of beer, and of course there are the famed antioxidant, tumor-inhibiting, and other effects of fine red wine.

So, a thought- if beyond all the medicine, the single drink (a 12oz glass of beer, or 6oz of red wine) simply induces some measure of calm or relaxation in the mother, who says that itself is not more powerful than the other, rather more technical reasons? Sound mind, sound body, they say. I haven't met many mothers who are in their third trimester who *aren't* stressed out just about always. Perhaps calming of the mind in this way is healthier than the armada of pharmaceutical options made available to her so quickly.

Even if you damn the study, the Aristotle still makes sense. Which is in this case, more Pinot equals less aggro.

deepa said...

Great points all around, especially about the robustness of the study. My main point is this: A glass of champagne isn't going to do you any harm. And a glass of champagne can be proxy for many things. I guess it's the equivalent of "don't sweat the small stuff"...

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend's mother drank Guinness and a raw egg fairly often while pregnant and he turned out smarter than most people I know (he does have a tad bit of ADD, but doesn't everyone?)

Post a Comment