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Drinking in pregnancy

126 replies

theheatherjane1 · 05/02/2017 19:23

Do you? The odd cheeky one? Nothing at all?
I haven't, but some days, oh some days, the only thing standing between me and a delicious glass of booze is that there's sod all in the house.

OP posts:
Hollyhop17 · 06/02/2017 17:19

I find the ONLY upside to having HG is that I feel so sick all the time, I haven't had a chance to miss Gin and wine yet. I dont plan to drink during the pregnancy, but will probably have one or two during bf.

pinkcandyflossy · 06/02/2017 19:33

To be honest most of the research seems to suggest the first trimester is when it's an absolute no when most of us are unaware are are even pregnant and carry on drinking normally (I knew I was pregnant at 5 weeks so stopped sharpish) So I don't think having a small glass of red wine or a cold shandy in second or third trimester should be worrying when a lot of us drank normally in the first trimester anyway.

Louffisher · 06/02/2017 19:36

Feel kinda bad now as I'm having a glass like every other week! Only a small one and I make it last ages with lots of wine. As lively as it is I find it more and more acidic as the months go on

Orangebird69 · 06/02/2017 19:40

Loufissher just wait until you have a glass in one hand whilst bfing.... You'll feel really bad then. Or you could sip away whlist baby sips away enjoying every bloody drop like I do.

haveacupoftea · 06/02/2017 20:45

I had a glass of red wine on Christmas Day and a prosecco on New Years Eve. Might have another glass on valentine's day Smile

mistermagpie · 06/02/2017 20:58

I thought the first trimester wasn't as bad because for most of it there isn't a functioning placenta and the foetus is living off the yolk sac rather than getting nutrition from mum. I know nothing about biology though so could anyone explain it to me?

For me I haven't drunk in either pregnancy. I'm anxious anyway and it's not worth giving myself something else to worry about.

tatree · 06/02/2017 21:45

From what I've been told the advice from the NHS used to be a limited amount of alcohol wasn't harmful (this was the case when my sister was pregnant a few years ago) - so a small glass or so was ok. Then the advice changed to what it is now - none at all during pregnancy.. I'm making the assumption that some much better informed medically trained people have made that guidance. It must have changed for a reason, whether I believe it harmful or not, I'll stick with the advice given by experts in their field. I can't imagine they would purposefully advise against, when previously allowing, it if there wasn't any evidence it would cause any harm.

goodbyestranger · 06/02/2017 21:51

I didn't drink during my first two pregnancies and then drank normally for my subsequent six pregnancies and there has been no discernible effect on any of them, either way (eldest is 26, youngest is 14). By normally I mean a glass or two a night, on average.

GinIsIn · 06/02/2017 22:34

tatree as has already been stated up-thread, there has been absolutely no further medical development between when your sister was pregnant and now. There are no studies or expert knowledge that suggest anything different. The reason the advice has changed is for social reasons - they changed the NHS guidelines to be more all or nothing as they were concerned that people wouldn't stick to them as they were previously, being open to interpretation.

tatree · 07/02/2017 07:43

I'm sorry but I don't buy it. The advice is no alcohol, so I'm following that. I don't think justifying a drink when the advice is zero alcohol is helpful advice to any pregnant women. People with wider experience in the field then us on mn have written the guidance and I'll carry on taking their advice rather than strangers on the internet. It's just not worth the risk to me to have one drink. I don't for a second believe the tiny baby growing inside me at the moment has a liver which was built to process alcohol - because that's where it's going when I have a drink, my liver and theirs too. It might not cause any long term harm that one drink, same as a sip of wine given to a baby, but they're having the same result.

Trifleorbust · 07/02/2017 07:49

Small glass of wine about once a week/fortnight.

ASqueakingInTheShrubbery · 07/02/2017 08:29

I had a small one every couple of weeks from the second trimester. I figured if I was under the driving limit it couldn't be doing much to my body, let alone the baby.

GinIsIn · 07/02/2017 08:44

tatree you can buy whatever you like or not, I really don't mind either way. My objective is not to force you to drink, but simply to explain the science.

WantingBaby1 · 07/02/2017 08:50

If you look at the research you'll see how variable these studies are - for example one of the main studies that said there is a risk of damaging IQ with a small amount of alcohol surveyed women who admitted to drinking alongside cocaine use during pregnancy. Highly likely that the IQ damage was due to the cocaine not the glass of wine! There's a really interesting book featuring many of the main studies, l'll post a picture when i get home. Whilst I'm not advocating ignoring all guidance (I'm not actually advocating anything, I feel it's a personal choice) it's interesting to see the science behind the research. And also to see how different countries respond - for example in France 1-2 drinks (v small glass of wine, 120ml being the one drink) 1-2 times a week is totally fine in the second and third trimesters, some midwives even recommend it, particularly red wine as in small amounts it beneficial to health. I think the NHS are overly concerned that some women will see that they can have a glass occasionally and think that means a whopping 250ml, or that if one glass is fine then 2 or 3 in one sitting must be alright too. It's because of the binge drinking culture in the UK - you don't find that in France. The fact is binge drinking is likely to harm your baby. As is fast drinking (no shots!) as it takes a while to process the alcohol. But a very occasional small glass of wine hasn't been shown to have negative effects.

Anatidae · 07/02/2017 08:53

I thought the first trimester wasn't as bad because for most of it there isn't a functioning placenta and the foetus is living off the yolk sac rather than getting nutrition from mum. I know nothing about biology though so could anyone explain it to me

The foetus goes from a single cell to something that looks vaguely like a baby in this time. It's a very delicate time. That cell has to divide, and and divide again, and then all those cells have to differentiate and move and form the body plan. It's a staggering process. It's also quite prone to disruption.
The foetus shares a blood supply from a few weeks, although it's not fully plumbed in until ten weeks or so. We still don't really know how it affects the foetus at this stage, it seems to be more of an all or nothing thing at the start. At the end of the first trimester alcohol can affect how brain cells move, develop and differentiate which leads to structural brain damage.

Later on alcohol seems to affect facial development and brain development- the facial issues are indicative of brain damage. Alcohol causes physical disruption to brain development and this in turn leads to the symptoms of FAS.

It's important to note that alcohol damage is a spectrum, from very very mild to very severe. It's thought that 1-2% of pregnancies are damaged somehow by alcohol, although full FAS is rarer.

Having said that.... there are trace amounts of alcohol in things like orange juice, and yoghurt. Small amounts do not seem to do harm, and the data backs that up. No one should be pilloried for having a glass of fizz with food. The current guidelines are reasonable.

I personally didn't drink at all, but a small drink with food, slowly, once a week shouldn't cause alarm. Drinking daily, or more heavily, or binging, is a different matter

welshweasel · 07/02/2017 08:54

The NHS guidelines changed to make it unambiguous. Look at weaning, the NHS say 6 months, most wean between 4 and 6 months. NHS say 1-2 units, someone will interpret that as 1-2 bottles. There is zero eveidence that drinking small quantities of alcohol in pregnancy is harmful to your baby. Your baby's liver doesn't have to process the alcohol in the same way we do. That's what your liver is for. I know someone who was ridiculously sanctimonious about not touching a drop in pregnancy then put her baby in their own room from birth, in a cot with cot bumpers, in a car seat in a snowsuit, in a forward facing seat at 9 months etc etc. Way more evidence (but in some cases still very little!) for those things causing harm.

And whilst I'm here, let's do the breastfeeding alcohol thing too. You can drink as much as you want whilst BF, it will have no effect on your baby. The only thing you need to worry about is whether or not you're in a fit state to look after your baby, it doesn't make a difference whether you're BF or FF.

Blueskyrain · 07/02/2017 10:47

there has been a lot of research to show any alcohol consumption in pregnancy can have a damaging effect! Why take the risk!

Where is this research? Not guidance, but the scientific research you say there's lots of?

Anatidae · 07/02/2017 14:19

re has been a lot of research to show any alcohol consumption in pregnancy can have a damaging effect! Why take the risk!
Where is this research? Not guidance, but the scientific research you say there's lots of?

Not quite. There's no level that's considered safe. That's subtly different from any level causes x amount of damage. Alcohol IS a teratogen. There's no doubt about that at all. The murkier issue is how much is ok, and when, and that's very difficult to define/research.

The baby's liver (and all systems) will be hit by any alcohol that crosses the placenta. There are trace amounts in many foods (orange juice can have about 0.5% in ) and below a certain threshold the combined contribution of your body's absorption rate plus your liver's metabolic breakdown, will mean that negligible amounts get through to the foetus. Once the capacity of your liver is reached (roughly one unit per hour but very variable depending on a number of factors) then there will be transfer to the foetus. Because they are so much smaller the effective mg/kg level is much higher. it leads to a more intense and long lasting effect.

The problem is that as always these threads descend into women being bashed for having a single beer with food over a few hours. These are not the behaviours that these guidelines target. There are a HUGE number of pregnant women with alcohol issues - these are the women who need intensive targeted support and treatment. There's also quite a widespread attitude that it's ok to drink to whatever level you can get away with (cf people drinking to just under the drink drive level.) and people have been shown numerous times to underestimate consumption

It's not possible to say 'x amounts of alcohol is safe' it is possible to say 'based on the best data we have, there are no measurable effects across the population at x level of consumption.'

Evidence based guidelines are what we need.

Libbylove2015 · 07/02/2017 15:40

I take a 'beer tax' from OH - if we go out I have one sip of each of his pints. Just enough to get the taste and keep the cravings at bay!

SquedgieBeckenheim · 07/02/2017 16:26

Can you imagine going to an ethics committee and saying you want to do a randomised control trial about the effects of drinking alcohol in pregnancy!? There is no solid evidence because it's too difficult (ethically and practically) to study accurately. They can do retrospective studies, but they are obviously going to be flawed, not least because people lie about their alcohol and drug intake.
Everyone knows that adults have different tolerance levels for alcohol, what would floor one person could have minimal effect on another. Surely it stands to reason that the same happens to a foetus? The absolute safest thing is to abstain from alcohol completely so the baby isn't exposed to any alcohol, hence the NHS advice to do that. Yes, 1-2 units per week may have no effect, but no one can be 100% sure. There are also many people who underestimate how much alcohol constitutes a unit, so may underestimate how much they are drinking.
Personally, I don't judge others who do drink through pregnancy, their choice. I just know I make the decision not to drink. However, I have been judged for wanting to drink NON-alcoholic wine...

WantingBaby1 · 07/02/2017 20:29

This is the book I referred to above. An interesting read if you want to know the facts behind the guidance and the science behind those facts.

Drinking in pregnancy
WantingBaby1 · 07/02/2017 20:36

And a couple of interesting paragraphs on this topic:

Drinking in pregnancy
Drinking in pregnancy
Funnyonion17 · 07/02/2017 20:44

Never in any of my pregnancies.

tatree · 07/02/2017 21:44

From the NHS website:
When you drink, alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and to your baby.
A baby's liver is one of the last organs to develop and doesn't mature until the later stages of pregnancy.
Your baby cannot process alcohol as well as you can, and too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect their development.

I'm not saying that I think a glass of champagne at a wedding or an occasional glass of wine with a meal will do any harm - my sister drank infrequently through her pregnancy as well as several friends and all have happy and healthy children. I'm just saying for me personally I'd rather not have any so I'm happy following the NHS guidelines, it doesn't mean enough to me to have a drink.

jcne · 08/02/2017 19:39

Not a drop. But I don't care for drink anyway so there is no sacrifice.

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