Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Debate This: Women Drinking While Pregnant

The following is a debate between Intern Claire and me. When she wrote her post, Claire didn’t realize it was going to be a debate, but the topic, and the language Claire used, prompted me to share my views, which are, obviously, different than hers.

Claire writes:

A shocking study done by the CDC and featured on Jezebel shows that one out of thirteen women are getting buzzed while pregnant. Even more disturbing, one out of five is getting wasted while pregnant!

I know you’re all probably thinking — as was I — that the women doing this are the reckless young girls accidentally getting pregnant and in dysfunctional relationships. However, the statistics showed that it’s the older, employed women who are more likely to drink during their pregnancy.

It’s truly a shame and alarming that this small percentage of women can’t give up their wine and martinis for nine months to take care of one of the most beautiful miracles of life, their baby.

Wendy writes:

Hey, guess what! I am one of those women who drank while pregnant. I take issue with the language Claire used when she said that 1 in 13 women get “buzzed” while pregnant, though. Neither the article she linked to at Jezebel nor the original source used the word “buzzed,” although in Claire’s defense, Jezebel did title its article: “One Out of Thirteen Pregnant Women Are Boozing It Up,” but that’s sensational journalism for you. The fact is, the CDC found that 1 out of every 13 women it surveyed reported to “drinking” while pregnant, not getting “buzzed.” And that could mean anything, from binge drinking (which is defined as “four or more drinks in about two hours”) to taking a couple sips of a wine.

While all of us, I’m sure, will agree that binge drinking, or even “getting buzzed,” while pregnant is incredibly dangerous and stupid,tons of research suggests that low to moderate prenatal alcohol consumption — defined (not by me) as no more than one drink per day — has no significant effects on a child’s neurological development:

“A large study examined 400,000 women in the U.S., all of whom had consumed alcohol during pregnancy. Not a single case of fetal alcohol syndrome occurred and no adverse effects on children were found when consumption was under 8.5 drinks per week.”


“A review of research studies found that fetal alcohol syndrome only occurs among alcoholics. The evidence is clear that there is no apparent risk to a child when the pregnant woman consumes no more than one drink per day.”

And this:

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concluded that “there is no evidence that an occasional drink is harmful. Women who drink heavily throughout pregnancy may have smaller babies with physical and mental handicaps, but women who drink moderately may have babies with no more problems than those women who drink rarely or not at all.”

And, finally:

“The Harvard Women’s Health Watch advises pregnant women that “having more than one alcoholic drink per day puts the fetus at risk for various defects and disabilities.” Thus, it suggests that expectant women should limit themselves to one drink per day. The health publication emphasizes that one drink is 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits or liquor.”

I’m not going to go into the details of what my alcohol intake was while pregnant, but I will say it was closer to a few drinks, total, than the few times a week the cited studies above suggest are OK. I also fall into the category of “college-educated, and older,” a group Claire above was surprised would drink during pregnancy. I am not a delinquent and I am not in a dysfunctional relationship. In fact, I’m very responsible and care very, very much for my baby, both now and while I was pregnant.

So, why did I drink? Why couldn’t I wait nine months to sip my precious wine? I could have, just as people who risk their child’s life by taking them on a plane or on a highway or to Macy’s on Black Friday could forgo those things. But I didn’t believe — nor did my doctors — that the small amount of wine and champagne I enjoyed on a handful of special occasions — past my first trimester — would endanger my unborn baby.

And for me, the psychological and physiological benefits of those few drinks I enjoyed during the course of my pregnancy helped reduce stress and normalize what, for me, often felt like a highly abnormal state of being. And I knew, as I’m sure many of the other “older, college-educated” women who have made similar choices, that the decision to sip some wine while pregnant was just one of endless parenting decisions I’d be making for the rest of my life, all of which would open me to criticism, self-doubt, guilt, and paranoia if I let them. So I didn’t then, and I don’t now. But that isn’t always easy. And it’s something I will have to remind myself over and over, I’m sure, over the course of my parenting journey.

The decisions I made while pregnant — drinking a little wine, not riding a bike, getting prenatal care, flying internationally, working out regularly, taking prenatal vitamins, and binging on three seasons of “Breaking Bad” in two weeks — are not unlike the decisions I made while in labor — I would have gotten an epidural in a heartbeat if there had been time! — and the decisions I have made since my son’s birth — he was circumcised, for example, in a Jewish ceremony — and the decisions I will continue to make as he grows. They are deeply personal, well-thought-out choices — well, the “Breaking Bad” decision wasn’t so much a well-thought-out choice as an involuntary tick I had no control of — and certainly not without controversy. Many people will see the decisions I’ve made and think I’m a terrible mother, just as I might question parenting decisions others have made — matching mom-and-daughter dresses, for one — and know I would do things differently. And that’s OK. That’s just one of the things you deal with when becoming a parent.

Pregnancy provides wonderful lessons in parenthood, and the most important lesson I learned while pregnant is that what matters to me most is not what other people think, but how my decisions sit with me, my immediate family and the people whose advice and insight we’ve sought and trust. So far, they sit just fine.

[via Jezebel and CBSnews]

211 comments… add one
  • Amanda July 30, 2012, 1:15 pm

    I completely agree with Wendy. Haters will always find a reason to hate on others for being different, whether they are successful/rich/poor/struggling/happy etc. Instead of doing anything constructive to better their lives, these people find self fulfillement in (trying) to tear other people down. It’s a miserable, pathetic existence.

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    • Amanda July 30, 2012, 1:17 pm

      Woops typo “self fulfillment”

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  • Jenny July 30, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I didn’t drink at all while pregnant with my son. It just didn’t feel right to me. A glass of wine helps relax me, sure, but there are other things I can do to relax. I don’t judge Wendy for having an occasional drink, it just wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing.

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  • rangerchic July 30, 2012, 1:27 pm

    I was in the category of “young and irresponsible” when I got pregnant the first time. By the time I found out I was pregnant I had been drunk at least once maybe twice. However, after I found out I didn’t drink at all since at the time it was “no one is ever allowed to drink ever while pregnant” theme going on. But I was actually happy to give it up because I had been drinking way to much anyway.
    By the time of my second pregnancy I was more in the “educated” column. I still didn’t drink (I’m not much of a drinker anymore since my first) and I gave up pop and caffeine (I wish that had stuck)
    It should be a women’s choice what she chooses while pregnant.
    And I agree with the commenter above that people will find something to be judgmental about no matter what.
    There are worse things…like smoking which do much more harm than an occasional (or more frequent) glass of wine.

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  • GatorGirl July 30, 2012, 1:31 pm

    Wendy I really like your second to last paragraph. You are so right- it is a deeply personal choice- to carry a child, to have a drink here and there, to have a natural birth or have an epidural, circumcise or not, home school vs public school vs private school etc etc etc. What matters most is that you make the right choice for you, your family, your child and that you an educated decision.

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    • GatorGirl July 30, 2012, 1:32 pm

      * that you make an educated decision

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  • jlyfsh July 30, 2012, 1:32 pm

    i think this is a great example of you just don’t know how you’ll react until you are there. i would say that before my friends started to get pregnant and actually had real conversations with professionals about what is healthy and not healthy to do while pregnant we would have been on the i can’t believe she’s having a glass of wine she’s pregnant side of things. now that we’re experiencing things that we only read, watched, or saw older friends/family going through our opinions are completely different.

    i also think this is a great example of how easy it is for women to judge other women, and specifically for moms to judge other moms. until my friends started to become mothers i had never experienced the oh you let your baby cry it out, interesting. or oh you’re only breast feeding for 3 months, i see you’re not worried about building up his immune system comments that come along with parents judging other parents. it’s very interesting. and kind of sad because like wendy said all that matters is your doing the best you can for your family.

    and seeing all of these babies as an outside i’m always amazed at how different each baby is. what works for one will never work for another, etc. but people still feel the need/right to judge away about how other people decide to do things.

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    • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 2:00 pm

      Oh God- I hate the pretentious breast feeding crap. Yes, I think it is wonderful to breast feed. But, no need to shame the women who don’t. We all have our reasons.

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    • Courtney July 30, 2012, 2:07 pm

      I agree! I think it’s an issue for each woman to make for herself!

      When I see articles/debates like this, it always surprises me. I don’t understand the fascination people have with nit-picking at the details of someone else’s life. (It reminds me of the Toyota commercial where the daughter is on Facebook and says something to the effect of “This is living” while her parents are out mountain biking–a twisted version of reality.) I realize part of that is just inherently our culture — hey why else are People and US Weekly so popular — but I’m always surprised when issues like this one spark a debate.

      We all make choices in our lives, some we are proud of and other not so much, but they are ours to make. There’s so much research out there that supports having a few drinks each week isn’t detrimental to the baby’s health, but at the end of the day it’s the mother’s decision. I guess my perspective is just as long as it’s not obviously hurting someone (so not binge drinking in this case) then it’s not really anybody else’s business.

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      • katie July 30, 2012, 2:47 pm

        they will exist til the end of time… its annoying, but true. hopefully people reading the debate will actually learn something, thats the only good thing you can hope lol..

  • spark_plug July 30, 2012, 1:40 pm

    I personally wouldn’t drink if I were pregnant. I’ve read the articles and studies implying that it is okay… however, there is also so much evidence to the contrary. Even if it does not harm the baby, if there’s even an impossibly small possibility of that happening, my approach to the issue is, why take the risk?

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    • Squid July 31, 2012, 5:42 pm

      Life *is* risk. Pretending otherwise is counterproductive. If the risk to your unborn child from a glass of wine was comparable to the risk to your unborn child from a car accident, would you also lock yourself in your house for nine months?

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  • sarolabelle July 30, 2012, 1:43 pm

    I don’t think I would drink, eat deli meat, eat caffeine, or probably eat a Tylenol if I were pregnant. But that’s just me.

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    • katie July 30, 2012, 2:09 pm

      i used to love the pregnant ladies who made it a *thing* to order decaf coffee… decaf coffee still has caffiene in it. its just a very small amount..

      its good to be informed about things.

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      • theattack July 30, 2012, 3:09 pm

        But even so, it’s less dangerous than regular coffee. I don’t see what’s misinformed about minimizing the risk.

      • katie July 30, 2012, 3:15 pm

        no, its not that its a bad thing to try to do good. but i know that these ladies didnt know that they were still ingesting caffiene… its more of that they put on a big show of not having-any-caffiene-because-its-bad-for-the-baby when in reality they were still having some, you know?

      • AKchic July 30, 2012, 3:28 pm

        *laugh* I’m not a big coffee drinker. During my 3rd pregnancy, I craved coffee (and donuts… I swore I was carrying a future cop). I got decaf for one reason and one reason only – so that kid didn’t Hulk-smash his way out of my stomach. Period. I didn’t give two shits about studies on caffeine affecting the fetus. All I cared about was the tiny Tasmanian Devil wreaking havoc on my insides.

  • LK7889 July 30, 2012, 1:51 pm

    In Claire’s defense, when you’ve never been pregnant yourself and you’ve always heard that drinking while pregnant is a bad idea, I think that her reaction is to that article is normal. That being said, anyone thinking that way clearly doesn’t have all the information out there on the subject, probably because she hasn’t had the personal need to research it.

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    • famous_blue_raincoat July 30, 2012, 2:15 pm

      I’ve never been pregnant and I knew that a lot of research found that a limited amount of alcohol was fine to consume…but yeah, some people may just have not come across it and have the reaction that Claire did. However, if you’re intending to write an article like this, wouldn’t a certain amount of research into the topic be warranted?

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      • LK7889 July 30, 2012, 2:38 pm

        Very true. Someone writing on a subject should always do a bit of research before writing the article. Hopefully this is a learning experience for Claire.

      • cporoski July 30, 2012, 4:23 pm

        Just because something won’t hurt a baby is not the same thing as it being good for a baby either.

      • Riefer July 31, 2012, 1:13 pm

        But if it’s neutral to the baby, why not do it if you want to? It sounds like you’re suggesting to only do things that are actively “good” for the baby. Which is crazy, because so many things are neither good or bad. You can’t cut out all your normal activities. All you can do is cut out the ones that you know are bad.

    • ele4phant July 30, 2012, 4:31 pm

      Yes. If there’s anything I’ve learned, its that if you’re a childless person if you want to say ANYTHING about pregnancy/childbirth/parenting, you need to do it with an intense amount of care, thought, and diplomacy, lest you get eaten alive.

      Knee jerk reactions and carelessly framed arguments will get you in a heap of trouble with women who HAVE been there, who HAVE put in incredible amounts of time researching and obsessing over the right thing to do for their child. I think women who don’t have children can still participate in conversations on the topic, we just don’t get the luxury of verbally vomiting our first reactions.

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  • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 1:58 pm

    Interesting information. I guess after that little education, I take no issue with someone having a few sips of champagne or even a small glass of wine once or twice.

    It is hard to buck against the whole “YOU MUST NOT HAVE A SINGLE SIP OF ALCOHOL WHILE PREGNANT” rule we have all grown up with. Which is why I don’t fault Claire for getting up in arms, like she did. I’ve always been told you could severely harm your baby if you drink while pregnant. It seems like a risk I personally wouldn’t want to take (and probably won’t). But, the evidence seems to point to having the VERY occasional glass of wine is not a problem.

    But, yea… I HATE the Moms judging other Moms thing. This is a little off topic, but something that drives me crazy lately. Moms are screwed either way- stay home with the kids and you can be seen by some as lazy and not contributing to the household income and relying on a man. Go to work and you can be seen by some as letting others raise your kids and caring more about getting material things and money than caring for your offspring. (Most) men never have to deal with these tough decisions. Lucky bastards.

    It’s tough out there… so use your logic and compassion (and do some research!) before judging how another woman chooses to care for her child(ren).

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    • Jenny July 30, 2012, 2:04 pm

      I just became a Mom 4 months ago, and I have never felt so judged in my entire life. I mean, even things you wouldn’t think I would be judged for — like breastfeeding (some people think its “gross”). A Mom friend of mine actually thinks parents should be arrested if they circumcise their sons. It’s ridiculous. Of course we can’t eliminate judgment altogether, because some people are shitty parents and someone needs to intervene for the safety of the baby. But the majority of the judging that goes on serves no purpose other than making women feel awful.

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      • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 2:10 pm

        Yikes- this is what I am afraid of! I have seen some of that whole “circumcision should be banned” stuff popping up… what, really?

        There is very little in this world that I choose to get up in arms about. I am all about “live and let live”. But, there seems to be a large part of the world that just feels like getting angry about everything.

        Geeze, maybe everybody just really needs to have that drink 😉 (I kid… I know alcohol doesn’t solve problems! But, people need to CHILL OUT!)

      • Jenny July 30, 2012, 2:39 pm

        A lot of people see circumcision of male babies on par with female genital mutilation, which I think is pretty absurd.

      • Riefer July 31, 2012, 1:15 pm

        It’s not on par, because what they do to females is absolutely horrific. Far, far beyond anything they do to males. But, it’s true that it’s unnecessary, and you’re taking a choice away from your son. I know guys who are pissed that they are circumcised, because it lessens the sensation that they can have during sex. And there’s no way to ever get that back.

      • 6napkinburger July 30, 2012, 3:31 pm

        As of the last article I read on the topic, Germany actually banned male circumcision, which brings up huge issues of religious freedoms.

      • MaterialsGirl July 30, 2012, 5:01 pm

        wow really? Will the Jewish population have to leave the country to perform this then? It seems this unfairly targets the Jewish and some Christian populations. Have you heard about the pro-(male)circumcision campaigns in Africa to help reduce AIDS?

      • Riefer July 31, 2012, 1:16 pm

        The one I read said that just the city of Cologne in Germany banned it, and they did so in response to a baby boy bleeding to death after his circumcision. I believe the general feeling in the country is to reverse that ban, though.

      • 6napkinburger July 31, 2012, 2:18 pm

        I thought I had read that the supreme court in germany had declared it as a human rights violation, like female genital mutilation. I read that they felt it trampled on the bodily integrity of the person as they had no choice; adults could choose to have the procedure but parents were not allowed to choose it for their children.

        If someone has a source, I’m happy to be proven wrong (especially as I am just reporting what I read.)

      • 6napkinburger July 31, 2012, 2:20 pm


        I think we’re a little bit both right.

      • LM July 30, 2012, 6:23 pm

        Congrats on becoming a mom, Jenny! I personally have 2, one almost 7 year old and an 8 month old. I completely understand about being judged. I had 2 Cesareans, not necessarily out of choice. My milk didn’t come in and when it did, there wasn’t enough to feed either one of the babies, so I had to supplement with formula. I have never felt as ashamed as I did when I had my son… the hospital even refused to give me the formula, even though I couldn’t feed him. They are falling into the “breast is best” thing, which is perfectly fine if the mother’s body can produce. Regardless of that, don’t feel like you’re wrong for doing what you do; you do what you have to for your baby. The health of your baby and YOU is what matters the most.

        As far as the alcohol while pregnant thing goes, I had “sampling” sips while pregnant. Enough to taste and definitely not enough to get buzzed. I tried to do what was healthy for my baby and me. I find that most of the people that make the comments are those that have never been in the situation or are just judging. The alcohol consumption during pregnancy education should really be given by which ever health professional the mom-to-be goes with. The other people that want to pass judgement should take a good look in the mirror before they say anything to anyone.

      • Jenny July 30, 2012, 7:27 pm

        Thank you! I also had a Cesarean, which was not what I wished for but ultimately what was needed to deliver my baby safely. That’s awful the hospital treated you that way. I had the opposite experience…they gave my baby formula and I had to tell my nurses multiple times that I wanted to breastfeed. They supplemented with formula while my milk came in, which is absolutely what I wanted them to do…babies need to be fed! I am definitely all for breastfeeding when it is something the mother wants to do and can do, but withholding formula is ridiculous! It’s not poison!

    • evanscr05 July 30, 2012, 2:07 pm

      Add in the whole slew off non-parents judging parents, and parents judging non-parents (those that just are childless, and those that choose to be childless), and I think you’re pretty much damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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    • Taylor July 30, 2012, 2:59 pm

      That’s great advice!! “It’s tough out there… so use your logic and compassion (and do some research!)”. Imagine a world where logic and compassion dictated responses on the interwebs!

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  • MsMisery July 30, 2012, 2:04 pm

    8.5 drinks a week (max) while pregnant seems like a lot. Then again, I rarely drink, so that’s a lot for me in any state. I can’t imagine cooking a baby and having a drink a day for the length of the pregnancy. I don’t feel one way or the other about a few sips here and there, though. All my life I’ve read that ALL DRINKING WHILE PREGNANT IS BAD AND HARMFUL so these new studies are going to take some time to sink in for people I think. Also, I won’t be having kids, so along with many other child-centric topics, I may have an opinion but I’ll usually keep it to myself. Even though I have very little faith in humanity, I gotta just let Mother make that determination about how to care for Fetus/Baby.

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    • 6napkinburger July 30, 2012, 3:33 pm

      Horrible mental picture alert!!!!!!!!!!!

      The image of Ms Misery sipping a glass of wine while cooking a baby on the store, with like an apron on and a wooden spoon. Such unfortunate imagery!

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      • MsMisery July 31, 2012, 1:32 pm

        HAHAAA!! I am such a horrible cook, and I am also terrible with children (well, just awkward and uncomfortable), that something like this is not unforseeable. Ladies, don’t let me babysit for you.

  • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 2:07 pm

    I’d be interested to hear what Claire has to say now? I know it’s easy to read an article and react without considering other points…. Does Wendy’s comment and cited stats change your perspective? In my non-medical opinion, I think doing things in moderation is just fine. Except for maybe doing heroin. (Do you “do” heroin or “take” it? Or “shoot” it? I have no idea.)

    My mom drank (like a glass of wine here and there) *and* smoked cigarettes while she was pregnant with me. I turned out ok. Just ok though. I’m only 5’6″, I’m a slow reader, I can’t wink, and I sing like shit. … I blame my mother.

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    • kerrycontrary July 30, 2012, 2:18 pm

      I have really bad hand-eye coordination. My sister says its because I was an old egg because my mom was almost 36 when she had me (which isn’t old for a mom now, but it was in the 80s).

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      • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 2:22 pm

        My mom was 36 when she had me too! So fuck, I started off as an old egg that was then buzzed silly with booze and cigarettes. No wonder I can’t do all the things that I cannot do.

      • Michelle.Lea July 30, 2012, 4:00 pm

        heh, my mom was 36 when she had me too! i was about 3 weeks early, and i sort of attributed it to second hand smoke in the house. i was pretty teeny. but, she didnt drink at all, or smoke herself..

      • Daisy July 31, 2012, 2:10 am

        My mom was 36 too! But thinking of myself as an ‘old egg’ is really quite disturbing…!

      • applescruffs July 30, 2012, 6:44 pm

        I was once kidnapped by my (now ex) boyfriend’s mother, his sister-in-law, and her mother. The SIL was going on and on about how her friend was dating this old guy and how they needed to have kids immediately or the kids were going to be all damaged because he was so old. How old was he? 28. I said, wow, my parents were 36 when I was born. SIL said, that’s so dangerous! I never would have waited that long! Blah blah. I said, yeah…if only my mom was younger I could have gotten my doctorate at Harvard instead of just [actual graduate school].

        Although I do have a math disability and poor spatial reasoning and bad ankles and knees. So…dammit, Mom!

    • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 2:20 pm

      I also have weak knees and ankles. That could be because of many many years of hard core soccer. By the way, all you moms out there, do NOT let your kids play soccer. Soccer ruins lives. I personally think it’s better to breatfeed buzzed than let them play soccer. Everybody should listen to me. This is not a debate.

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      • Lili July 30, 2012, 2:32 pm

        Speaking of breastfeeding–I was riding the bus after happy hour last week and i saw a mother just whip it out to feed a toddler age child. I felt really awkward and uncomfortable since she didn’t use a modestly blanket and was sitting RIGHT infront of me on the side facing seats while I sat on the fwd facing. I looked down at my dead phone for the majority of the ride. And of course I told my date about this story and he told me about the time magazine cover with the breastfeeding lady and the older child. Its pretty controversial, so don’t look it up at work. Then we talked about attachment parenting and baby birding… good thing I ordered the soup! IDK why but breast feeding in public makes me feel weird. even though I prolly wore a top low cut enough to show the same to a gay bar this weekend-and got tons of compliments 😉

        BTW how’s that for a tangent ?!

      • Caris July 30, 2012, 2:40 pm

        Idk over there, but here in Argentina is pretty common to see moms breastfeeding while on the bus. Although I never saw anyone breastfeeding a toddler. Personally I don’t agree with toddler age breast feeding but like you said, it’s a very controversial topic so I won’t say anything else about that.

      • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 2:49 pm

        Wouldn’t bother me in the least to see a little baby breastfeeding. A boob is a boob is a boob… and babies have the right to eat when they get hungry. I’d rather see a woman whip out her breast than listen to the baby cry the whole bus ride.

        However- And I know I sound like a jerk here- but there is something weird when you see an older kid breastfeeding. If they are old enough to be on solid foods, shouldn’t they be eating solid foods? I mean, I think even cows kick their calves away when they get old enough to eat grass. They are like “Enough already” in their cow language. I do not ever want a 2 or 3 year old hanging off me that way. Ever. But, that’s just me- to each her own.

      • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 3:19 pm

        When I see boobs whipped out on the bus I catch myself staring, and then I feel awkward… but I try not to mention how awkward I feel b/c I wish women felt more comfortable doing that and I wish other people like me felt more comfortable when women did that, which of course requires more people to feel comfortable breastfeeding, which requires us bystanders to feel more comfortable…. not sure how to get that ball rolling, so I just try not to stare or comment about it. … My favorite thing I’ve read on the “how old is too old to breastfeed” debate is an article that said, basically: who the fuck cares; stop judging women; let’s worry about bigger things, like the lack of paid maternity leave in this country, etc. … Wendy, if you see this and you have a link to that article, will you share? I loved it. I wish I had saved it.

      • ele4phant July 30, 2012, 4:35 pm


        Internally, I get so mad at myself for being uncomfortable by women who whip out a boob with complete confidence. They SHOULD get to feed their children however and whenever they want. We SHOULDN’T feel all weird about it as a society.

        But sometimes I do…its awkward. I’m sorry, I’ll try to get better about it.

      • Lili July 30, 2012, 5:16 pm

        I had this same thought later. But I think what bothered me was the fact that the lady wasn’t discreet. I mean, I know i’m wrong for having this awkward-can’t stop staring moment, but personally I don’t want anything hanging out for others–esp men-to ogle at. ESPECIALLY since the bus goes through the shadier parts of town (free ride area is sketchy right Ele4phant?!) But it is up to her and good for her to feed her child.

      • Michelle.Lea July 30, 2012, 4:02 pm

        see, i get that a boob is a boob is a boob. and i dont care if women breastfeed in public, and i think they should be given private rooms at work to pump. however, i would prefer they put a blanket over it all, i for one, dont want to see random boobs. i dont find it overly icky or anything, i just dont want to see it. i also dont want to see random men with their shirts off either. equal opportunity feh to me.

      • Lili July 30, 2012, 5:18 pm

        Agreed! unless i’m at a gay bar. Then I know I’m exposing enough cleavage that could equate to what I saw. And ONLY at gay bars.

      • katie July 30, 2012, 2:42 pm

        you can add in gymnastics on the list of terrible sports for children. yikes.

      • kerrycontrary July 30, 2012, 2:58 pm

        I have weak ankles and knees too! I was horrible at soccer…so I did ballet.

    • Caris July 30, 2012, 2:35 pm

      Only 5’6″ ? What do you mean only???? Are you suggesting that if I am 5’4″ I’m short???? D:

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      • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 3:13 pm

        5’4″?! Geez, your mom must have been shitcanned every day of her pregnancy with you. … Or not at all.

      • GatorGirl July 30, 2012, 3:25 pm

        I’m only 5’2″. Must have been all the Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream she ate while pregnant with me.

      • vizslalvr July 30, 2012, 9:52 pm

        I’m only 5’2,” too. And my mom was 36. And my dad was 35. All sorts of “old” ass sperm and eggs up in there.

        I do have terrible wrists and a bad back and am really, atrociously bad at math, despite the fact that neither of my parents smoked while my mom was pregnant and I’m (pretty) sure my mom never drank, either. Then again, both of my parents are freakishly good looking now that they’re like 60 – according to my fiance (re: my mom), friends, and in laws (re: thinking my dad was the “hot delivery guy” when he came home with the catered food at my wedding shower and literally asking for the catering company number – ugh ew). So I have those good genes going for me?

    • Leroy July 30, 2012, 4:55 pm

      My mom got kicked by a horse when pregnant with me, and she smoked, and used lead gasoline, and wore polyester. And I was a forceps delivery because my head was HUGE. I still have marks on my head from the forceps. That’s probably why I’m left handed, because my fwagile baby head was smooshed during delivery. I looked like a baby walrus. But I feel fine now.

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      • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 5:21 pm

        Well that explains some of your comments! I’m kidding, relax. I wonder if I was a forceps baby. I’m going to go call my mom now and ask. So, like, are forcepts not used anymore? When did they stop using them? And shit, my parents drove a car that took lead gasoline too. Add lead gas to my list! I have a picture of me as a baby sitting on my mom’s lap (gasp) in their old mercedes – the “bens” as it was called for years and years. We were poor so I’m not sure why we had a mercedes. Maybe they stole it. Dun dun dun!

      • Leroy July 30, 2012, 7:47 pm

        You’d know because your mother would never. stop. talking. about. it!

    • chicotia July 30, 2012, 10:30 pm

      My mom smoked too and I can’t whistle or dive and my ability to snap is questionable.

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  • bethany July 30, 2012, 2:08 pm

    I have no strong opinions on what other people do with their kids (born or not), until it affects me personally (Like a crying baby in an R rated movie at 10pm on a Friday).

    I see no problem with a glass of wine here or there, and I’m sure I’ll probably do it while pregnant. However, I would only do so in the comfort of my own home, or at a friend or relative’s house. Acceptable or not, there’s just something about a pregnant woman drinking in public that doesn’t sit well with me.

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    • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 2:14 pm

      I hear what you’re saying.

      If I were to be pregnant and just really needed a bit of cold beer… I’d do it at home. Most people don’t have the evidence Wendy cited, so it would just create way too much drama to drink in public while sporting a baby bump. And, I honestly think people would mean well if they made comments to me. I couldn’t really argue with little old ladies who told me not to drink while pregnant.

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    • GatorGirl July 30, 2012, 2:32 pm

      I worked as a bartender for a while and one day a VERY pregnant woman came in with (I assume) her husband and ordered a glass of red wine. (I should add I worked at an upscale italian resturants bar.) It was such a strange experience to serve a drink to a pregnant woman (I wasn’t as educated about this subject as I am now) and every other customer judged the heck out of her. So yeah, if I have any drinks it will be in the privacy of my own home.

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    • BecBoo84 July 30, 2012, 2:58 pm

      Not to get too far off track, but babies with FASD do affect you in the sense that they’re more likely to struggle in life and utilize various forms of public assistance (that are, needless to say, paid for by taxpayers). Not to mention, they’re more likely to end up in foster care, etc. because they can be extremely difficult to care for, and their parents are typically not the best either. Many people don’t realize how severe the affects of FASD can be throughout life.

      I allude to it below, but we finally got our 10 year old foster son’s FASD diagnosis, and while there’s no way to be sure, both the psychiatrist who officially diagnosed him and his pediatrician think that a lot of his “problems” (ADHD, social and behavioral issues, coordination issues, etc.) are a result of the alcohol his mother consumed with pregnant with him.

      Personally, I think when people are doing things that are dangerous, or potentially dangerous, to their children, we, as a society, should be concerned.

      *This is in no way criticism towards Wendy. The occasional glass of wine she mentions consuming is in an entirely different category.

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    • Riefer July 31, 2012, 1:24 pm

      I was out with a bunch of friends at a pub, one of whom was very pregnant (about a week away from giving birth). We went to that pub specifically because it had a non-alcoholic beer that she liked, but they were all out. So she was bummed, and the rest of us were telling her to just have a beer. We were all familiar with the studies which say a small amount doesn’t hurt, and her doctor told her the same thing. But she didn’t want to, because of how it would look to other people. Kind of sad that she had to worry about that. 🙁 Anyway, she eventually got one, but she had it served in a glass half full of ice so it looked like ginger ale to anyone watching. 🙂

      On another note, one of my other friends who had a baby recently was told by her doctor that she could drink while breastfeeding. She said it doesn’t come through the milk, so she can have as much as she wants. Maybe there’s a new study on this, I don’t know. Would be nice if it were true! 🙂

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  • katie July 30, 2012, 2:08 pm


    this reminds me of my high school biology class and we had to do an egg lab where we had to soak it in different stuff and record how much it gained or lost of the liquid or whatever.. and the last one we did was pure alcohol, and the shell got all soft and bunch of them broke and it was weird and gross… and my teacher was like, and thats why you dont drink during pregnancy. and i remember thinking, …but, im not soaking my baby in pure alcohol. and my baby is not a chicken egg… i just remember being confused. lol.

    i think it is interesting to note that the alcoholics are the ones who get fetal alcohol syndrome. that makes a lot of sense to me, because in my mind the alcohol would have to inhibite your own body systems before it would effect the baby.

    its nice to see the research suggesting that this is ok, not just for people like wendy who wanted to have a glass of wine or whatever, but also so that pregnant ladies can go out to fancy dinners and not worry about what has alcohol in it. i remember many times having to do special things for pregnant ladies who wanted a specific dessert made without the alcohol. this makes me feel better about being pregnant (god did i just say that. i didnt mean that. i am terrified to be pregnant)

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  • Budj July 30, 2012, 2:09 pm

    I would just say that 8.5 drinks a week is very misleading. I would be really nervous that someone would take that and binge drink one night a week rather than spread it out with the one glass per day. They should stick to the one glass per day mantra to not confuse it.

    Binging vs spreading it out over the course of the pregnancy I would think would have an affect on the pregnancy or at the very least increase the risk of complications.

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    • katie July 30, 2012, 2:15 pm

      haha… thats like cheating at weight watchers. you save all your points for friday and binge eat and drink like a crazy person, but your still *technically* only eating your point limits..

      very true though.

      it would make sense to me that more alcohol you ingest, the higher the chance it would get to the baby and maybe harm it… like if you only had one glass of wine, your body would probably filter that out just find and nothing would get to the baby… but if you have 5 glasses of wine, its too much for the body to handle all at once and then some of it would get to the baby.. i dunno if thats true or anything, it just makes sense in my head.

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    • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 2:18 pm

      Great point!

      Think of how sick you’d be if you had 8.5 servings of alchol in one sitting. I for one would be blacked out if I had that much. One drink and I am mellow. Two drinks and I am buzzed. Three and I am drunk (over the course of a couple of hours). And I am 133 pounds. Now filter all those drinks into a 6 pound baby. Bad news.

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      • iwannatalktosampson July 30, 2012, 6:05 pm

        UGH I think I had 8.5 drinks from 2am – 5am Saturday night/Sunday morning alone. I am still hungover.

    • Caris July 30, 2012, 2:45 pm

      Good point

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  • Leroy July 30, 2012, 2:09 pm

    I suspect that the reason that occasional drinking is more common among older mothers is due to the fact that they’re often wiser, and better educated, and more able to assess the risks.

    They hysteria surrounding pregnant women drinking is a classic example of how well intended public health campaigns can take on a life of their own.

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    • Lili July 30, 2012, 2:23 pm

      Tobacco-a tumor causing, teeth staining smelly puking habit. Oh sorry, the public health campaign mention made me remember that ad. Anyone else remember it?

      Oh and I think we need to to trust that each person knows their body and needs and should be able to decide what to do. Women are people too-not just baby incubators 🙂

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  • ktfran July 30, 2012, 2:10 pm

    I read the CDC article. Maybe on HuffPo. Not, Jezebel. One of the thing commenters pointed out on the article I read is that the article never differentiates between binge drinking, the occasional glass of wine and drinking while not knowing yet you’re actually pregnant. I think the report is really a disservice to women, especially responsible women making the right choices for them.

    I’m not certain what I would do if I were pregnant, but I imagine enjoying a glass of wine with a delicious dinner, or for a special occasion. Also, my cousin had the occasional glass, and her husband is an ENT.

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  • Anon Y Mous July 30, 2012, 2:24 pm

    Don’t you think it might have been better to educate Claire/ let it be an actual debate rather than just shutting her down in public without her knowledge? I understand that she was misguided, but maybe you should have sent your response via email rather than posting it.

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    • kerrycontrary July 30, 2012, 2:35 pm

      Agree on this. While I think it’s an interesting topic to bring up with the DW community, I think Claire did get shut down a little. Like OHHH SNAP!

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      • kerrycontrary July 30, 2012, 2:37 pm

        Just saw Wendy’s response, good point. And it’s why I couldn’t be in a field where I was publicly criticized!I would go home and cry all the time.

    • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 2:36 pm

      I think Wendy posted it because she knew it would be an interesting debate. It also gave me information that I didn’t know was out there. It got conversation going, which is great!

      I don’t fault Claire for using the language she did. I think it is pretty understandable as up until now, I always thought common knowlege was that alcohol and pregnancy should NEVER mix.

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    • Wendy July 30, 2012, 2:34 pm

      It’s really presumptuous of you to assume I DIDN’T discuss this with Claire before posting it. Of course, I did. And this IS my way of educating her — I’m teaching her about online publishing, not pregnancy. I wanted to use this post and the way I responded to what she wrote as a way to illustrate how to create a dialogue and promote conversation in the comments section. I also wanted her to have some experience with comment criticism in a safe way that I could moderate. Commenter criticism is a HUGE part of writing online and something young writers, especially, need to brace themselves for if they want a career as a writer online. I explained to Claire that this post would garner some negative attention. I told her that most of it would likely be directed toward me, but that some would be directed toward her. I showed her what I wrote. I gave her a chance to edit what she wrote or to respond to what I wrote, and I asked her if she was OK with me publishing this, and I let her know it was perfectly OK if she wasn’t.

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      • Taylor July 30, 2012, 3:50 pm

        Good teaching moment Wendy!

  • Emma July 30, 2012, 2:27 pm

    I had a French teacher who went overseas while pregnant, and ended up in Italy somehow, where she decided to get a check-up, because she was worried about something. Well, turns out everything was okay, but the doctor ‘reminded’ her to keep her drinking to one glass of wine a day, and two espressos. It boggled her mind, haha.

    I think the danger in drinking during pregnancy is probably that some women might not pay attention to the limiting (or they will limit themselves too little). Also, every body is different, so it’s hard to say what is safe for one fetus, and what will disease another.

    I certainly don’t think a few drinks during pregnancy is a problem, but I did know a girl with fetal alcohol syndrome, and my mother is a physician for sick and premature newborns (which includes those affected by substance use/abuse during pregnancy), so I guess I have a unique perspective of what could happen if you aren’t careful. There are so many rumors about what is ‘actually safe’ during pregnancy, I’d say play it really safe and limit yourself to a drink maybe every month or so. I’m just saying this because there is a lot of misinformation, and misunderstandings of what doctors and scientists are saying. I mean, I’ve heard people saying that Meth during pregnancy doesn’t harm the kid. Well, I think when you’re having the wean the premature, gelatinous baby off the drug after their born, you’d think otherwise. I hear people say the same thing about marijuana (a drug I personally enjoy), but it has many of the same effects as smoking cigarettes. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if it was every once in awhile, but I’m not sure there has been sufficient research to determine that.

    Just be careful, moms of the world, but don’t let that keep you from having fun.

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    • BecBoo84 July 30, 2012, 2:44 pm

      I love what you had to say. And, I too, come from a “unique perspective” in that we’re foster parents, and, needless to say, have cared for children with FASD, and it sucks. What sucks even more is that there’s nothing really that can be done about it, even once it’s diagnosed, so kids are left with a lifetime of attention issues, etc.

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    • 6napkinburger July 30, 2012, 3:41 pm


      I read your sentence about your perspective as ” I did know a girl with fetal alcohol syndrome WHOSE mother is a physician for sick and premature newborns…” and I was like, WFT?? Talk about education about risks not hitting home!

      But then I read it again and all made sense.

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      • LK7889 July 30, 2012, 4:46 pm

        I read it that way the first time too. And I was like, “Ok, what? I can’t have read that right…”

  • Caris July 30, 2012, 2:33 pm

    I agree with you Wendy.

    Also, binging on three seasons of “Breaking Bad” in two weeks= not a bad decision 😛 that show is AWESOME

    My mom kept doing exercise (swimming, idk if she kept running, she probably did though) on all her 3 pregnancies, right up until the 9th month. She had absolutely no problems whatsoever in any of her 3 pregnancies.

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    • LK7889 July 30, 2012, 4:46 pm

      Breaking Bad is an awesome show. Just sayin’.

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  • BecBoo84 July 30, 2012, 2:35 pm

    Personally, I haven’t drank at all with either of my pregnancies, but I don’t really drink in general, so it’s not been a big deal to me. And, I don’t think the occasional glass of wine is a big deal either (although I would consider 8.5 glasses a week more than “occasional”).

    I know that Wendy listed a few different studies, but the CDC still recommends no alcohol while pregnant:

    “We have a long history that alcohol causes birth defects,” Dr. Jacquelyn Bertrand, a child psychologist and senior scientist at the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in June, adding that low levels of drinking have been tied to risk for miscarriage, premature birth or stillbirth. “Drinking during pregnancy is just not worth the risk.”

    And this, “The CDC says there is no known safe amount of alcohol or safe time to drink while pregnant.”

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    • cporoski July 30, 2012, 4:38 pm

      I totally agree with this. I know that one drink here or there won’t kill you but it isn’t good for you either. There are alot of unsafe behaviors that people do while pregnant like eating crap and all the chemicals in our lives.

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  • Kristina July 30, 2012, 3:03 pm

    I don’t think it’s a big deal to drink a little here and there, though I would probably not do it for different reasons. From my anatomy classes, I was taught that the first 4-6 weeks of pregnancy are the most damaging to drink alcohol in – and since some women will not find out they are pregnant right away, that it’s best to wait until 6 weeks before having any alcoholic drinks. But everything I read seems to be conflicting one way or another on whether it’s okay to drink alcohol while pregnant. I’m not quite sure what to believe anymore.

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  • bittergaymark July 30, 2012, 3:09 pm

    Eh, somehow the news that 1 in 5 women don’t take pregnancy seriously and only give a flying fuck about themselves REALLY isn’t all that surprising…

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    • MsMisery July 31, 2012, 1:41 pm

      I wonder how different attitudes towards pregnancy, breastfeeding, birth control, abortion, etc would be if MEN were the one to have to carry the baby. *shrug*

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  • Clare July 30, 2012, 3:11 pm

    I think something important o keep in mind in this whole debate is the difference between drinking alcohol in the first trimester and drinking alcohol in the second and third trimesters. I think that drinking during the first trimester is potentially dangerous because that’s when the brain and so many other vital organs and parts are developing, but once those are formed, they won’t be damaged by occasional sips or drinks.

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  • Schwinny July 30, 2012, 3:12 pm

    UK resident here. The NHS guidance to expectant mothers advises that alcohol should be avoided in the first three months and then 1-2 units once or twice per week is a safe level.

    Their specific guidance changes regularly but the underlying sentiment (the occasional alcoholic drink during the later stages of pregancy is ok) has been pretty consistent for a while. Links above point to good, sound, scientific studies that show light drinking does not affect foetal development.

    The Continental attitude toward drink is even more relaxed. The CDC study, Jezebel post, etc, would have been a non-story on this side of the Atlantic.

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  • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 3:12 pm

    I think a whole lot of this ties into the idea that pregnant women become merely vessels during pregnancy, and if you do something for yourself that is good for you and potentially non-beneficial for the baby, then you are a bad, bad vessel who is undeserving of such favor as to carry a child. Pregnancy is beautiful, natural, pregnant women like unto goddesses, and therefore are/should be beyond reproach.

    As opposed to the reality – pregnancy can suck. Your body betrays you in ways you can’t predict or control – Wendy, your kidney infections were so, so scary to read about, and I can’t imagine how scary they must have been to live through. You have intense emotions, you have health problems that are embarrassing and dehumanizing, and you give up so much of yourself for at least nine months – more, usually – that if the risks are low, you should be able to live as normally as you fucking want to. Just because a woman is carrying a fetus does NOT make her public property, and it does not mean she abdicates all agency.

    Think about it – everyone wants to touch a pregnant woman’s belly, know when she’s due, what she’s having, if she has any more, nursery colors, prenatal vitamins, childbirth plans, blah blah blah, without ever stopping to think, these are REALLY FUCKING PRIVATE things!!! If people I barely know or don’t know at all want to touch me, it’s a good sign I need to get the hell out of the room. If people I barely know want the exact date of my medical procedure, butt out. If a stranger is asking specifics about children to a non-pregnant person, that’s a little invasive, same with the decor of a bedroom in my home, what medications I’m taking, and most especially whether or not I’m going to push something out of my vagina or have it cut from my abdomen and whether I’m going to want drugs while I’m doing it. That is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! And yet, I’ve seen near-strangers ask pregnant women these questions and more. It’s creepy, I think.

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    • katie July 30, 2012, 3:23 pm

      im just sayin’, if my best friend is pregnant im gonna be all over everything because im so excited. i hope thats not a bad thing. i would never ask a stranger those same things.. thats just awkward.

      also, re: people touching a pregnant belly. jakes SIL is having a baby in the next month, and she had a guy in walmart come up to her and touch her tummy while he was eating chicken wings. whisky tango foxtrot is that crap? ew.

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      • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 3:47 pm

        Oh, of course, for someone you have a relationship with where you’d ask that stuff anyway – I mean, if I know what kind of birth control my friends are on, I figure everything is also fair game when they go off it and get pregnant. But I’ve got a friend who’s pregnant and who keeps getting quizzed on that stuff by ladies in the office, people in line at Starbucks, people she just met at parties, and that’s so weird.

      • katie July 30, 2012, 3:55 pm

        yea. thats awkward. like my (sorta) SIL’s belly being rubbed by some gross guy… just pure, simple, unwanted attention.

        but ill be honest, when i was out with my friend and her new baby, older women kept coming up to her and asking how old the baby was, what her name was, ect, and it had a very supportive feel to it. like they had been there before, they complimented on how good she looked a month after birth (she did look amazing, that was true), how beautiful the baby was, ect… the random people interactions i saw seemed to be very supportive and friendly. but then again, these were after the baby was here, so. theres that.

      • Riefer July 31, 2012, 1:37 pm

        Ugh. Personally, I find that stuff sooo annoying. I was with a friend who had a newborn, and we were trying to run in somewhere quick because we were in a hurry, and people kept stopping us to ask about her baby. She tried to be nice, but I could see that she just wanted to be left alone. And when we finally got out, she was like, oh my god! Is this what life is going to be like until they grow up?

    • AKchic July 30, 2012, 3:41 pm

      *shudder* I hear you on the intrusive questions and judgement and advice. I absolutely hated it. Still do now that the passel o’ kids are old enough to all behave in a store (and do, or there will be hell to pay) and I get other people questioning how I do it, do I want more, did I really want a girl and finally give up, will I keep trying for a girl, etc. I don’t even know these people for fuck’s sake!
      I have no problem in giving advice to another parent who is having discipline problems in a store, should they ask for my advice; but anything else – whoo boy, they get some smart-ass answers.

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    • 6napkinburger July 30, 2012, 3:45 pm

      Nursery colors are private? Really? If someone told me they were remodelling a bedroom, I might very well ask about the color they chose and/the decor. I agree with many you listed, but I can’t get on board with the colors of the nursery as being so private that a question about them is intrusive.

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      • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 4:45 pm

        It was a bad example. I was just throwing stuff out. Although, now that I think about it, I do remember one pregnant friend talking about how she was decorating her nursery with the classic Winnie the Pooh, all pastels and adorable sketchy illustratins of Piglet and Pooh, and one stupid asshole was like, “You know, that’s actually really bad for the baby’s vision, you should decorate in black and white as much as possible.” And in that sense, yeah, what douche tells someone they don’t know that well that their decorating is a bad idea?

      • 6napkinburger July 31, 2012, 2:16 pm

        True that, about the comments, especially related to the health of the kid. If I had a friend who was going to paint with 60 year old lead paint for a “vintage feel”, maybe its fair to say something. But otherwise, to butt in on the parenting aspect of nursury design is ridiculous. (As someone who has watched about a billion decorating shows/books/websites, I would volunteer advice on cute little ideas, but I would do that if someone said they were redoing their mudroom too, and if my friend got offended at that, they could just deal. I like decorating and have very few oppurtunities to do so. and I wouldn’t care if they didn’t do it.)

    • Fabelle July 30, 2012, 3:45 pm

      Yes, so much, yes to this & especially your first sentence. Medical regulations like the ones Wendy posted are easily accessible, but many people use this issue (drinking) to get judgmental with the way pregnant women live their lives. Like, a visibly pregnant woman eating sushi, cheese, coffee, whatever is all of a sudden cause for public concern. It’s not, & shouldn’t be.

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      • guest July 30, 2012, 4:02 pm

        If you saw a pregnant woman drinking and eating sushi and all the other things most people say are dangerous to the baby, you would mind your own business.

        If you saw a woman possibly abusing her child, would you still mind your own business?
        I think that’s why people feel they can/should speak up, because like it or not, when you’re pregnant, you are a “vessel” for someone else’s life.

    • LK7889 July 30, 2012, 4:54 pm

      I never know what to say to a pregnant woman. I had a client just recently who was pregnant and I saw her every two weeks or so. I still felt really weird about talking to her though. It’s like the 800lb elephant in the room- she’s obviously pregnant. So I kept wondering if I should say anything and what would be appropriate to say. Eventually, like a month before she gave birth, I asked her when the baby was due and then just let her tell me what she wanted to tell me. I thought maybe it was weird to NOT ask about it eventually, like I didn’t care or something. It really makes me want to avoid pregnant women who aren’t my friends or family…

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      • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 5:11 pm

        Yeah, that’s true. I don’t know…when I’m trying to connect with someone who’s in the middle of an experience that I have no knowledge of, I tend to do the open-ended questions: “Oh my god, what’s it been like so far? What are you most excited about? How’s your doctor?” and let them take the lead rather than impose questions on them that they may not be comfortable with. I mean, there are women – I would probably be one – who are totally okay with taking about the gorier details, and if the other person indicates that’s comfortable, dude, fine. But then there are some really private people who would much rather just talk about safe things like buying toys or how the baby shower was on a day they had the worst morning sickness ever, or whatever.

        But yeah, I really get that aspect of not knowing what to talk about with the pregnant lady. I often times have the urge to blurt out, “Sooooo, there’s a baby in there, huh?” I’ve had three pregnant students in the last two years, and because I really have to make sure I keep it professional with these kids – one of whom is still at the top of her class and is an amazing mom, SUCH a cool kid on every front – I’ve gotten really good at the open ended “tell me abut your pregancy” questions.

      • LK7889 July 30, 2012, 5:13 pm

        Yeah, that’s a good point. I guess I always thought the “when is the baby due?” question as being “safe.” Then, once I’ve acknowledged the obvious, I would let the woman fill in any blanks she wished to fill in. But I’m sort of socially awkward and only do well with close friends or in clear cut professional situations.

      • LK7889 July 30, 2012, 5:11 pm

        Hmm, re-reading that comment, I hope no one takes the “800lb elephant” comment the wrong way. I didn’t mean that a pregnant woman was an 800lb elephant or anything. Geez, pregnancy topics make me uncomfortable. I hope I never get pregnant or I’ll be uncomfortable mentally as well as physically.

      • 6napkinburger July 31, 2012, 2:32 pm

        I’m nervous because in my culture, it is really bad luck to compliment the baby or give presents or anything like that before it’s born, and I have no idea how I’m going to be able to communicate that without sounding like a horrible bitch or a whackadoo. Like, “when are you due?” the answer in my head is “if and when G-d feels its time, but the doctors have said april.” What a whacko answer, right? I don’t want the doctors to give me a due date, I dont’ want to know the gender. I’m not sure you’re even allowed to fix up a nursery. I won’t have a shower , etc. I guess it comes down to — I’m happy to talk about being pregnant, but not about “having a baby.” And the worst part is, it’s not quite enough for me to say “thanks.” when someone says something nice — I really want to say “please don’t say that” because it’s bad luck for me if THEY say it too. But there’s no real way to do that. So I’m not sure how this works.

    • Jess July 30, 2012, 5:11 pm

      Co-sign to everything you wrote.

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  • Lynn July 30, 2012, 3:18 pm

    My mother didn’t drink when she was pregnant with me or my siblings. I personally have no intentions of drinking while pregnant either.

    I have had my own issues with alcohol which is why I have made the decision to no longer drink. Period. I understand a glass of wine here or there or even moderate drinking might not have an effect on the baby, but why even risk it?

    Why do you want to drink? Why can’t you go nine months sober? I mean to each his own, I don’t care and I won’t judge, but it’s still something I wonder. Sure studies may claim things, but what if your body is the exception? What if your body is the one body in the whole world that cannot accept alcohol while pregnant and it causes some kind of defect to your child? I know this is far-fetched, but I feel like these days, anything can happen.

    I mean, I guess just coming from my own struggles with drinking and from what I’ve learned through that… lots of people might say, if you can’t go nine months without drinking, maybe you need to reevaluate whether you may have a drinking problem or not.

    But again, as I said earlier, if you want to drink while pregnant, that’s fine. It’s not illegal. Do what you need/want to do. I know for myself, I won’t be, because I’ve made the decision to stop drinking. Also from a personal stand point, I just don’t agree with drinking while pregnant.

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    • Lynn July 30, 2012, 3:23 pm

      Oh gosh, that sounds bad. I don’t want to insinuate that people who drink while pregnant have a drinking problem. Hopefully y’all get what I’m trying to say. Some women may have an issue. I can’t figure out a way to put that in the right words.

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      • Jess July 30, 2012, 3:45 pm

        I do understand your point Lynn and I think this is where the maternal guilt comes in. I ask myself “well, even if drinking IS ok, shouldn’t I prove to myself that I can do without it?”

        But it’s flawed thinking. We have to rely on medical science for the answer in the same way we rely on it for EVERY OTHER decision we make while pregnant. There are so many. And many are unclear. It’s not just alcohol. Each woman has to decide where to draw the line. And I think common sense and medical research has to override fear and guilt and (as sometimes misinformed) society at large.

        To give you an idea, here is a list of things that are no-nos or possible no-nos while pregnant: lunch meat, hot dogs, fish, hot baths, hot tubs, biking, moderate exercise, Vitamin A from certain sources, caffeine, chocolate, pain killers, sushi, changing cat litter, exposure to cleaning products, teeth whitening, manicures, pedicures, hair dye, etc.

        When you review that list, you might want to consider that pregnant women generally don’t feel as well as they did pre-pregnancy (headaches, body aches, nausea, extreme fatigue, etc). You have more physical ailments in your path but far fewer remedies to draw on. I’m not saying that pregnant women can’t or shouldn’t sacrifice –only that the scale of that sacrifice might be deeper than it looks on first glance.

      • katie July 30, 2012, 3:51 pm

        theres no way ill give up chocolate. nope. never.

      • Jess July 30, 2012, 4:14 pm

        haha! I am craving sweets WAY WAY more than I normally did (footnote: I am pregnant). I stretched a little when I listed chocolate but the rationale there is that 1. it contains some caffeine and 2. they recommend you scratch it to reduce heartburn and indigestion.

        But me, I scoff at that rule. Chocolate has been one of the only things that has not made me gag during this crazy first trimester nausea. Chocolate is my friend 🙂 And aren’t I doing my baby a favor by giving he/she such early exposure?! 😉

      • Kristen July 30, 2012, 4:37 pm


      • iseeshiny July 31, 2012, 10:50 am

        Ah! Congratulations, lady!I am popping out of the woodwork here to say I am so happy for you!!!

      • Lynn July 30, 2012, 3:57 pm

        Well that definitely is a long list of no-nos. I can only imagine how difficult pregnancy must be.

        But I do strongly believe that women who have the habit of binge drinking a couple times a week, should probably think over whether they should drink while pregnant. If they think they can control their drinking – fine. If they’re not sure or maybe doubt themselves – then don’t do it.

      • camorzilla July 30, 2012, 4:37 pm

        I think it’s pretty clear that the discussion is not about women who binge drink anyway, but women who might occasionally drink in their later trimesters. I understand that since YOU had a drinking problem that’s how you approach the issue but not all pregnant women have drinking problems. I would hope that most don’t.

      • Lynn July 30, 2012, 5:30 pm

        Yeah, but there are probably some women who binge drink who might be reading this thinking that their drinking habits are a-okay because lots of women on here are saying drinking is OK during pregnancy… even though y’all mean in moderation. So no, it’s not pretty clear. You’d be very surprised how people approach drinking.

      • Kristina July 30, 2012, 5:36 pm

        Yeah many alcoholics don’t admit or even recognize a problem and they may truly think their drinking habits are already moderate enough to continue while pregnant. It does happen enough with alcoholics for it to be a concern.

      • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 5:45 pm

        That’s true. I had a friend who got pregnant at 18 and whose doctor told her it was okay for her to drink every once in awhile. Which she took to mean, “It’s cool if you wanna get shitfaced a few times a month.” As in, she would call me after a night of drinking, throwing up, and passing out. I was always pretty consistent in saying, “Um, kiddo, I don’t think that was quite what the doctor meant.” But she insisted it was and never checked with him to clarify, probably because she knew he NEVER meant that. There’s a reason we aren’t friends anymore. Though her daughter turned out REALLY smart.

      • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 4:06 pm

        Wait.. hot baths are bad?!?!?!?!?!

        Now that is going to be ROUGH for me.

      • Jess July 30, 2012, 4:17 pm

        Yep. There are rules about HOW hot you can have it be and many women just avoid them altogether to be safe. But I won’t survive this pregnancy if I can’t bathe. I don’t drink and I can’t take my sinus or headache meds. A bath is only of the only ways I have to relax and ease my headaches. I just try to be cautious about limiting the temperature to “very warm” and not “hot.”

      • Wendy July 30, 2012, 4:30 pm

        Going without the hot baths was harder for me than forgoing my gin and tonics. Toward the very end, I did cheat and have a couple warm baths, but lukewarm water is just sort of sad and it wasn’t the same…

      • Jess July 30, 2012, 5:13 pm

        That’s discipline! I still take them regularly but never do HOT. And I agree that it’s a hard one!

      • ktfran July 30, 2012, 5:35 pm

        What about hot showers? I’m not being mean, I just want to know. Because I don’t take baths . . . but my showers can get pretty hot. Note, I’m not pregant either.

      • jess of cgw July 31, 2012, 7:06 am

        Hot showers would probably be fine as long as it wasn’t crazy and long. The deal is that when you take a hot bath, you are submerging the fetus underwater in hot temperatures. Since the baby can’t sweat in the same way we can, the heat doesn’t have anywhere to go and the baby can overheat. Something like that. I think there are general rules about excessive heat under any circumstances but the bath is notorious because of the submersion. At least, this is my understanding.

        Again, I read that it shouldn’t be scalding or so hot that you flinch when you put a toe in, so I still take very warm baths. And if you want the truth, sometimes I stick my belly up thinking I can keep the baby cooler. But that’s just my own crazy 😉

      • ktfran July 31, 2012, 8:18 am

        Thank you.

      • katie July 30, 2012, 6:06 pm

        My pregnant friend was told that she couldn’t have a hot foot massage added onto a massage she was getting.

        I wonder about the showers too…

      • spark_plug July 30, 2012, 8:39 pm

        I know someone who had a miscarriage because she spent too much time in the jacuzzi. As a posted above said, you never know how something is going to affect your body.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 30, 2012, 9:08 pm

        How does she KNOW that’s how? I’m not trying to be rude but is there anyway to know how that happens? I heard a crazy statistic that like 70% of women will have a miscarriage in their first pregnancy – a lot of the time even before they know they’re pregnant.

      • Kristina July 30, 2012, 4:11 pm

        I agree. Discussions of parenthood have become less about alternate ways to do things and more about right vs. wrong ways. As a society, we’ve gone towards treating pregnancy like a precious bubble that will burst if you do X or Y, and all that pressure and guilt lies on mothers. But human nature is stronger than a precious bubble about to burst any second, and while unfortunately we live in a scarier world in terms of chemicals and pollution, it is not possible to protect an unborn baby from all harm. Nor do I think babies and unborn babies should be protected from all things deemed ‘harmful’.

      • Jess July 30, 2012, 4:15 pm

        Kristina, I love you right now. That is all.

      • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 4:04 pm

        I get what you’re saying. You may take some major flak for it… but I know what you were trying to get at.

        I guess it depends on the reason(s) why the pregnant woman is drinking.

        My group of friends and I were never huge into “partying” while growing up. I NEVER drank before the age of 21 (other than a sip of wine here or there). Even those first few years when it was legal for me, I barely touched it. I didn’t try pot until I was 28. Nowadays (at almost 31)? I imbibe in that stuff a lot more often. But, I rarely “get drunk” and it isn’t a coping mechanism. I have had the conversation with my friends about it. One of my friends so wisely puts it that she was glad she didn’t try that stuff until she was very mature and knew how to handle tough days and bad feelings. When you are 16 and are still developing, it is harder to know why you are drinking… and I think are a lot more likely to grow to depend on it when you’re down.

        Okay, I need to get to the point already. I guess what I am trying to say is that I think if a pregnant woman is enjoying a glass of wine to celebrate an anniversary or a friend’s wedding that is much healthier than a pregnant woman who can’t go 9 months without a drink because she just can’t cope with every day stresses. I hope that made sense and didn’t sound too judgmental. I am definitely not quick to point a finger at anyone saying “YOU HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM!”…

      • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 4:59 pm

        I think it must be our puritanical roots that we feel like depriving ourselves COMPLETELY of something is healthier than continuing to indulge in moderation (especially for women who are moderate drinkers in the first place) because the far extreme end of that indulgence is potentially damaging.

    • Riefer July 31, 2012, 1:44 pm

      But what if your body is the one body in the whole world that can’t accept, say, beef while pregnant? You could say that about anything. When you look at Europe, for example, and the amount that women over there drink during pregnancy, you can see that it’s not an issue of “one drink will fuck your kid up forever”. It’s not like they have insane levels of FAS or anything. Or what about all the drinking and smoking that went on before these studies existed?

      I can’t see one or two drinks throughout an entire pregnancy causing a disaster. I wouldn’t drink in the first trimester personally, but after that if I want to have a drink every once in a while, I think I would.

      Reply Link
  • AKchic July 30, 2012, 3:24 pm

    I read the article when I first saw it, and yes, sensationalized headline. I do see the effects of alcohol abusing pregnant women on a daily basis through work, and I see responsible drinking (in extreme moderation) through friends, so I see both sides.

    I didn’t drink with my first three kids because I was under 21. It would have netted me a social services call if my doctor knew. With my 4th son, I was able to drink. I did so only twice. Samhain and Yule rituals. And even then, it was the traditional one sip and pass.

    The majority of women are smart enough to know what to do during a pregnancy, and doctors are mixed on drinking during pregnancy. A woman will usually follow the doctor’s advice, one way or the other. Many will feel that they don’t want to risk drinking in general. That is their choice. It’s time to stop bashing the normal women/moms out there to try to feel superior about oneself. A little solidarity would be nice.

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  • Sue Jones July 30, 2012, 3:28 pm

    I was squeaky clean during my pregnancy, but I don’t drink anyway. However my mother’s Mad Med generation drank and smoked like there was no tomorrow and most of us turned out fine… that said there are a few who didn’t turn out fine… why take those kinds of risks? Let’s also clean up our air and water and environment while we are at it.

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  • Jess July 30, 2012, 3:30 pm

    Hi all, it’s been a long while since I posted but I still read and today’s topic prompted me to dig out my password so I comment because… ****drum roll please*****

    I am pregnant! (dear lord, I hope this post remains anonymous as I have tried to ensure).

    So yes, congrats to me and all of that. But mostly, this is really timely for me. And I want to first say THANK YOU to Wendy for putting this out here. To Claire, no hard feelings, you represent the majority. To the rest, a few thoughts of my own while I consider these VERY questions during my own pregnancy –my first ever pregnancy.

    * You can’t talk about this topic on its own without first discussing the Mommy Wars. There seems to be no topic like Mothering that brings out public condemnation. You will never, ever, ever, see Fathers held to task in this way. Fathers who SHOW UP (to the birth, to change a diaper, to read a bedtime story –just choose ONE of that list) are revered as saints. Mothers, on the other hand, are judged by other mothers. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, circumcision, crying it out, parenting philosophies have become religious convictions with aggressive missionary operations. And the competition is a race to the bottom. Who can sacrifice the most during pregnancy? Did you give up alcohol? Well **I** gave up caffeine. You gave up Advil? Well, **I** suffered through daily migraines and didn’t even complain. The list goes on. You cannot win this competition unless you die during childbirth. But if not, don’t worry, the competition starts fresh once your child is born.

    * Sorry if I am getting a little heated. There are hormones at work here!

    * It is very easy to say what you will or won’t give up when you get pregnant and that may be well and true. But understand that your body’s habits now are not necessarily the ones you will have once you are pregnant. For example, giving up Advil and giving up my allergy medication has been a MAJOR hardship for me. I have had a sinus headache every day for weeks. Tylenol hardly does a thing for it but you better believe, since it is on the OK list, I take it when I can. Yes I sacrifice the things that I know to be harmful. But depriving myself of tylenol just to prove I am capable of sacrifice does not make me a good mother-to-be, it makes me a weird martyr. Yet, this is exactly the kind of pressure or “advice” you hear from people.

    * Onto alcohol itself, I am in my first trimester so it is not even something for me to consider right now. Do I miss it? Oh my god I miss it!! Later in my pregnancy, I have not decided yet. My instinct and my rational side think it is probably fine to have an occasional single glass of wine spread out over the course of an evening. There is a small part of me that feels guilty, as Wendy said, simply because I am afraid of being condemned by society. Though you can be sure I would only ever indulge in the privacy of my home.

    * I lived in Europe for several years where, true to their culture, they never went through a total abstinence policy for pregnant women. Did they not KNOW about the harmful effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?! Yes, they knew. They just never interpreted the findings to mean that all alcohol was harmful. Women 60 years ago were told it was safe to have a little alcohol in moderation. Today they are told the same thing. For this reason and many others (maternity leave), I sometimes wish I’d had my baby there.

    * I really do believe that our attitude toward alcohol is the same extremism we direct to sex, drinking age, etc. Maybe it’s our repressed puritanical roots. Maybe it’s the medical community’s fear of malpractice lawsuits. Either way, we have a black and white, all or nothing approach to things.

    *Caffeine, since many brought it up is allowed up to 2.5 cups a day. That is what every book and website will tell you. In addition, numerous studies have come up empty when trying to establish a link between caffeine and harm to the fetus. There really is no evidence to suggest you should abstain. My caffeine intake was already as low as one cup of coffee a day. Could I totally omit caffeine? Yes. But why deprive myself a simple pleasure? Either way, don’t give that pregnant woman in starbucks the evil eye if she orders a regular coffee. She and her baby are FINE.

    * It doesn’t take very long after seeing 2 lines on a Home Pregnancy Test before maternal hormones kick in. And do you know what those hormones drive you to do? PROTECT YOUR UNBORN BABY. Of course there are idiots and there are exceptions. But you won’t often find those women on blogs and in Starbucks lines. Have some faith that these women WANT their babies to survive and have thus done the research, talked to their doctors, and follow the medical advice they’re given.

    * The average pregnant woman, as Wendy said, is stressed, worried, excited, guilty, and possibly SICK AS A DOG. So give her a thumps up, or a pat on the shoulder, or a “job well done” –cheer her on. It’s a long road of physical challenges and VERY few (yes I mean zero) martinis along the way.

    Thanks for listening!!!!

    Reply Link
    • SweetPeaG July 30, 2012, 3:39 pm

      Congrats! And here is my internet style pat on the back and thumbs up for you. I hope it counts for something!

      That was well thought out and written. I have nothing to add because that was fabulous 🙂

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      • BecBoo84 July 30, 2012, 3:42 pm

        And also, congratulations! It’s an exciting time for you.

      • Jess July 30, 2012, 3:48 pm

        Thank you both!!!

    • BecBoo84 July 30, 2012, 3:41 pm

      “Fathers who SHOW UP (to the birth, to change a diaper, to read a bedtime story –just choose ONE of that list) are revered as saints.”–>I agree that this used to be the case, but I certainly think, and hope, things are changing. A lot of women, myself included, have much higher standards for their husbands than that line implies.

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      • Jess July 30, 2012, 3:47 pm

        Oh believe me MY standards are higher!!! Lol. And my partner is exceptional. In fact, he will be a stay-at-home dad for our little one.

        I would agree that men generally DO much more than I implied in that statement. But my point was about how they are exempt from the judgement of the mommy wars. Their contributions are recognized as just what they are –contributions –not expectations. If women were considered on the same basis, we’d be in good shape.

      • Lili July 30, 2012, 4:02 pm

        CONGRATS!!!! Such great news 🙂

        Also, YAY to stay at home dads. I went on a date last week with a guy raised by a stay at home dad and can I just say his perspective on life blows me away! Its so refreshing to meet a man who doesn’t have values that align with patriarchy and traditional gender roles. You’re doing your baby a great service by raising him/her this way!!

      • Jess July 30, 2012, 4:06 pm

        Thank you Lili!!! Yes, he works from home so it just makes sense for us. We’ll get a sitter who can help out so he can get work done (something similar to what Wendy does) but much of his job is evening and weekend anyway. My job requires me to come to the office but it’s also provides our health insurance so that’s a biggie. I am a little jealous that I won’t be the at-home parent but I am SOOOOOOO glad that our child will be raised at home by family and that we won’t have to do daycare. NOTHING WRONG WITH DAY CARE–just feel good that we had the choice.

    • katie July 30, 2012, 3:45 pm

      ” parenting philosophies have become religious convictions with aggressive missionary operations”

      preach it, lady!

      it is sad. and what i think is espeically sad is that if mothers were all able to talk about the different kinds of ways to do things, people would just be more educated. but people are shitty and they just jump to the conclusion that whatever they are doing is perfect and everyone should do as they do. i would have no problem talking to my friends and family about their decisions and having a general chat about parenting issues at the same time..

      and also, i am wondering, and your pregnant so maybe you know, but all these studies are referencing a glass of wine, and then you say that you wont have any martinis… so is hard alcohol a no-no?

      and also, congrats on your little one! yay!

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      • Jess July 30, 2012, 4:02 pm

        So true Katie. I was actually afraid to ask my closest friend (who is also pregnant) about whether she plans to circumcise her son. I wanted to know and to share information but it feels like it’s equivalent to asking someone their position on politics or the death penalty!!

        As for the martini, no I don’t think there is any REAL rule about the type of alcohol. It’s just that hard alcohol has such a high alcohol content that I can’t imagine ever choosing that.

      • katie July 30, 2012, 4:13 pm

        thats sad, especially that you feel you cant even ask your closest friend.. i just feel like that should be such an easy conversation. like, hey, friend, are you gonna circumcise him? and she would be like oh never! i think its bad because of X. and then you could be like yea that is a good point.. but i think i will because of Y. and on. and at the end you both would be like hey you have a great point.

        that hardly ever happens in real life though, so i guess i want to live in a fairy world or something lol

    • bethany July 30, 2012, 4:02 pm

      YAY!!! Congrats!!!

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      • Jess July 30, 2012, 4:06 pm

        Thanks bethany! I can’t believe I outed myself here. Most of our friends don’t know yet. We have a few more weeks til the end of the first trimester and then we plan to announce.

    • jlyfsh July 30, 2012, 4:11 pm


      and as someone who has a lot of friends who have gotten pregnant in the last 2 years (i think we’re on like baby 15 or something at this point. some people are now on to round two, haha) the mommy wars are serious business.

      like i said above i’ve seen people who would consider themselves friends judge each other on the way they each choose to parent and what they chose (or continue to choose) to do or not do during pregnancy. it’s amazing.

      Reply Link
      • Jess July 30, 2012, 4:20 pm

        Ugh, it’s so sad isn’t it??? I am making a sworn promise not to go there. I know I will be on the receiving end of this stuff but I vow not to judge others.

    • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 4:18 pm

      Amen Jess! And congratualtions. I’ve wondered where you went. Now I see you were off having unprotected sex. More power to ya!

      Reply Link
      • katie July 30, 2012, 4:21 pm

        that needs to be made into a baby announcement… haha

      • Jess July 30, 2012, 4:22 pm

        HA! You got it girl!!! The first part was easy. Dealing with the aftermath has been another matter! We’re super excited though 🙂

      • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 4:27 pm

        Also, if you want to name your child Addie Pray, I would be flattered.

      • Jess July 30, 2012, 5:17 pm

        You might be surprised. One of our favorites for a girl is Adeline –nickname Addie!

      • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 5:23 pm

        YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA – take that, everybody not named Addie!

      • bethany July 31, 2012, 9:28 am

        Technically, you’re not named Addie either 🙂

      • Addie Pray July 31, 2012, 9:49 am

        I forget sometimes.

      • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 5:25 pm

        I LOOOVE Adeline!!! Old-fashioned names are awesome!

      • Kristen July 30, 2012, 7:17 pm

        A friend of mine named his daughter Adelaide (like from Guys and Dolls), and I just think that’s so cute.

      • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 9:16 pm

        I would have to sing “Bushel and a Peck” every time I saw her. That kid would haaaate me!

    • katie July 30, 2012, 4:27 pm

      oh jess, if you have not already, visit offbeatmama.com. its a wonderful mommy blog and i think you would really like it from what you wrote here!

      Reply Link
      • Jess July 30, 2012, 5:16 pm

        I’ve been dying to find a blog that I could identify with so I will check it out!! Thank you!

    • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 4:32 pm

      Oh my gosh, YES.

      It seems that, true to form, our society divides even the pregnant women into “good” and “bad.” The “good” ones don’t indulge in anything, ever, only eat organic foods and sleep 12.5 hours a day while still looking beautiful and pristine and never dropping the ball on any personal commitments, with no weight gain outside the baby bump. They are glowing and maternal in temperament and acknowledge that carrying the child that is the Most Important Baby in the World is also the Most Important Thing They Will Ever Do. They have no outiside interests besides doing the best that they can to ensure that this child comes out pristine, perfect, and understanding advanced calculus. They are active, but only just enough so that their bundle of joy gets the best of the best, and never so that they can keep off the baby weight as that is So Selfish And Wrong and also because they would never dream of gaining baby weight.

      The “bad” ones are the ones who keep their own interests and personality after becoming pregnant, and also include in their interests tiptoeing around whilst twirling their mustaches, “Hahaha! This baby will be SO FUCKED UP!” Seriously.

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      • painted_lady July 30, 2012, 4:35 pm

        Oh, also, congratulations!

      • Jess July 30, 2012, 5:16 pm

        Thank you and I agree with every word you wrote!

    • Wendy July 30, 2012, 3:55 pm


      Reply Link
      • Jess July 30, 2012, 4:03 pm

        Thanks Wendy!! I’ve been reading your motherhood posts with rapt attention!

    • AKchic_ July 30, 2012, 4:45 pm

      Congrats 🙂

      “Fathers who SHOW UP (to the birth, to change a diaper, to read a bedtime story –just choose ONE of that list) are revered as saints.”

      I had to laugh at this line. It is true in so many cases. Then you get some oddities. During my last labor, it was my longest L&D stay ever (I was induced and my body kept adjusting to the pitocin). My SO had nothing to do, so he played video games while I was on the phone paying bills. I had warned him ahead of time that during active labor, I don’t like to be touched, and I usually didn’t want anything (ice chips, etc). He knew what he was coming into (lucky 1st timer, right?). When he says he had nothing to do but watch tv/play video games until I started pushing, then all he got to do was stand off to the side and watch… well, the women get pissed at him for not doing more for me and the guys kind of look at him with a mix of awe and jealousy (jealawesy?).

      Reply Link
    • iwannatalktosampson July 30, 2012, 7:47 pm

      This is my favorite comment. I love everything you said. I have a friend that is pregnant and she is scared to admit she doesn’t love being pregnant. Like she’s a terrible person for not feeling like this is the most special thing she has ever done and ever will do.

      That’s why I love Wendy and how honest she always is in her writing. Hopefully it helps other women not feel like freaks for whatever they’re feeling as new mothers.

      Reply Link
    • Traci July 30, 2012, 9:59 pm

      Just wanted to comment on the allergy medication. I am 20 weeks pregnant, and my OB has reassured me from Day 1 that my usual allergy medications (Benadryl and Loratidine [Claritin]) are perfectly safe, and I can continue taking them. Which I have, because my sinuses were bad pre-pregnancy, and they’re 10 times worse now! I don’t know which allergy meds you generally take, and obviously discuss with your doctor, but several allergy medications are on the “safe” list during pregnancy. Also, for sinus headaches, my OB said decongestants like sudafed are fine in the early stages of pregnancy, but they aren’t recommended as much in late stage. I have avoided all decongestants out of my own paranoia, but I was told they are fine until around the 3rd trimester.

      Good luck! Oh, and I highly recommend a full-body pregnancy pillow once you get far enough along you need to sleep on your side. That pillow is seriously the best thing to have happened for me since getting pregnant. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my pre-baby way of sleeping.

      Reply Link
    • Daisy July 31, 2012, 2:30 am

      One word for Jess — PREACH!

      Oh, and congratulations 🙂

      Reply Link
  • katie July 30, 2012, 4:22 pm

    wendy, i vote that “debate this” should be a regular column. thank you, that is all.

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    • Addie Pray July 30, 2012, 4:28 pm

      i second this.

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    • iwannatalktosampson July 30, 2012, 7:02 pm


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  • *HmC* July 30, 2012, 4:28 pm

    Wow, as someone who’s never been pregnant nor been close to anyone as they were going through a pregnancy, I honestly had no idea how much recent research had debunked the whole not drinking at all during pregnancy practice. So, I can’t blame Clare too much for judging that decision, because honestly, if I didn’t know about all the recent research, giving up alcohol for 9 months doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice if you actually thought (as we all used to, and many still do) that alcohol would have horrible effects on an unborn child’s health.

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  • cporoski July 30, 2012, 4:47 pm


    I think this article brings up a broader trend. So in my world, it seems like everyone is pregnant. I have a very wide social circle so lets say that in the last two years I have had dinner with 40 pregnant women. All of them and I mean all of them said, “It’s a special occasion, so i will have a drink with you.” They all qualified the response with the word special and needed to tell me that they don’t do this all the time.

    I thought this was wierd because I tried to find things that we could do that didn’t involve drinking but it was almost like they were jonesing for it. Like they all wanted a moment of normal with me or a break from all the changes that were happening with them.

    I think i was also sensitive to this because I hope to be a parent soon. Just like a girl who just got engaged and is watching every wedding detail that everyone else does, I watch every pregnant woman like a hawk.

    But I think your article brings up a point that there is a shift and it is a big one.

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    • lemongrass July 30, 2012, 7:28 pm

      They are jonesing for it! I’m pregnant now and it is freaking hard sometimes. I want this baby more than anything and I am glad to be pregnant but I feel like a science experiment and if I could just feel normal again that would mean the world to me.

      It’s like- you know when you’re really sick and you just want to feel normal again- it’s like that for months on end. Well, I’m only 13 weeks so I can’t tell you how the rest of it goes but hormones are crazy shit, yo.

      Reply Link
      • theattack July 30, 2012, 10:08 pm

        Yayy! I don’t think I knew that you were pregnant. Congratulations!!!!!!!!

      • lemongrass July 31, 2012, 10:09 am

        Thanks!!! Very stoked about it.

  • lemongrass July 30, 2012, 6:03 pm

    When I got pregnant someone said to me “women had healthy babies in the holocaust. Don’t get hung up on deli meat and a glass of wine.”

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    • katie July 30, 2012, 9:22 pm

      oh! and on that same note- back in like colonial times, around the war for independence, everything people drank had alcohol in it. the water was too dirty to drink, and so they drank a form of mead.. like a very weak beer. everyone- men, women, small children, and im assuming, pregnant women. the slight alcohol content would kill off harmful bacteria in the water.

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  • quixoticbeatnik July 30, 2012, 7:11 pm

    You know, this is an interesting debate. I think that there is a lot of emphasis on being a good mom-to-be and a lot of judging and shaming because I think, in our minds, we feel that if we do everything perfectly, then the baby will be perfect. I mean, these babies are the fruits of our womb. If a woman were to have a baby that was born with a disability or defect, she might wonder what she could have done wrong. I don’t think there’s any way that we can be ‘perfect’ in terms of bringing our children to fruition. Sure, we can be cautious and reasonable – I think cutting back on substances like caffeine and alcohol is probably a good idea. Anything that puts you and your baby in extreme danger should probably be avoided as well. But, you know, life happens. IT HAPPENS. We can’t prevent anything that happens, nor can we control forces outside of our control. My mom contracted a virus when she was pregnant with me, which caused me to be born very sick. I’m fine now, just profoundly deaf. I don’t think she could have done anything different – she wasn’t being stupid or anything like that – but if she had the information that she has now, maybe she might have done something different. This was a virus that hardly anybody knows about, and that hardly anybody still knows about today, but it is more common than one would think.

    I think information is a good thing to have. We can all make our informed choices. If one mom wants to have a glass of wine, that’s fine. If another one wants to take a hot bath, that’s totally cool. We have to stop feeling like we are responsible for others’ babies and just focus on our own babies. That’s all we can do. (I don’t have children, btw)

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    • Eagle Eye July 31, 2012, 9:12 am

      That’s true, my mother was an incredibly nervous pregnant woman (both times). And as careful as she was, she traveled to Hawaii with my dad and got the chicken pox. Fortunately, she became sick when I was mid-way through my second trimester, which is the safest time to get sick like that (and I still got a raging case of chicken pox myself of as a child 10 years later), but what could she have done? She got sick, things happen. Here I am. Here she is. We’re all just fine.

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  • Meredith July 30, 2012, 9:08 pm

    I’m six months pregnant with my 2nd child and made a decision to not drink at all with either, but for a couple different reasons. One is I don’t drink very often anyway and even one drink makes me feel pretty tipsy, to the point where I’d think, “if I feel drunk, what is this doing to my baby who only weighs a pound right now?” Even if that’s unrealistic/paranoid. Second is I have a niece with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (she’s 5 now) and I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it’s been to see her struggle physically, mentally, emotionally and to know she’ll always have challenges. Obviously I know it took more than a couple drinks for her to develop FAS. However, witnessing the effects of her mother drinking during pregnancy is enough for me to say I’d rather abstain for 9 months than risk hurting my child, no matter how minimal that risk may be.
    I wouldn’t condemn those who choose to have the occasional drink, but I feel very strongly that not drinking while pregnant is the right choice for me.

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  • belongsomewhere July 30, 2012, 10:44 pm

    I’m very late to this party, but this is fascinating and I have to say that I agree with everything you said, Wendy!

    I don’t really drink to begin with, so it’s most likely I won’t drink while pregnant (and I don’t plan to become pregnant for 6+ years). However, I absolutely will be drinking soda and caffeinated tea, because otherwise I’m going to be miserable *all the time*, which would be bad for everyone! I will also have amniocentesis, and an epidural, and I’ll be using formula instead of breastfeeding although I am, in all likelihood, fully capable of breastfeeding. These are all, as Wendy says, immensely personal choices, and Jess is completely right in her argument about the mommy wars.

    Women, as mothers, are expected to be completely selfless before, during, and after pregnancy. The problem with that, of course, is that if I’m being completely selfless I simply will not be happy. I matter to myself, to my partner, and I will matter to my child–in other words, my happiness or lack thereof will absolutely have an effect on the health and happiness of my family, *especially* on that of an infant. If an occasional glass of wine, a caffeinated beverage, or the comfort of knowing you don’t have to do everything perfectly makes the difference between feeling like a martyr and being pleased to be an expectant or new mother, I say be a little “selfish.”

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  • Visharoo July 31, 2012, 1:21 am

    I am an American living in Italy and a local friend of mine and I became pregnant at the same time. We like to compare what her Italian doctors say versus what my American doctors say. It really is quite interesting. Drinking, smoking, and deli meats are not off limits to her, but fresh vegetables, pineapple, driving on bumpy roads, and having any sort of pet in the house (cat or dog) are all big no-nos. My doctor put the fear of God into my husband and I about alcohol, deli meats, cheeses, and sushi. It is just weird how different cultures emphasize different things. Interestingly enough, Italian hospitals have some of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world… so there is something to think about!

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    • Jess July 31, 2012, 3:03 pm

      It makes an excellent point. I wish more people would be able to zoom out as you have been able to do –it really helps gain some perspective.

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  • guest July 31, 2012, 10:23 am

    Reading these comments, I’m reading a lot of ‘why should I give up something I love entirely for a WHOLE 9 months’ ‘I’m a woman, not a vessel for another creature just because I’m pregnant’ ‘When I’m pregnant, I’ll still have X because I love it and there’s no way I could give it up, even if it could be slightly dangerous’ ‘I’d be cranky without caffiene, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone’ ‘I can’t give up my very warm baths even though doctors say its dangerous for babies;

    Really people? How selfish. If you were going to care more about yourself and your own comfort, why have a child? You can’t handle 9 months of not being selfish, how do you think the next few decades are going to go? Why take any risk, even a minimal one, when you are pregnant (aka a vessel for another life)?

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    • BecBoo84 July 31, 2012, 4:34 pm

      Couldn’t agree more!!!

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    • Peaches July 31, 2012, 5:46 pm

      Very well said….I’m actually shocked i didn’t know women did this. My ideas were always, just tell me what IS safe and i’ll make sure to avoid all else. I’d be less likely to ask myself “what if” b’c i did 1000% what i could to decrease the likelyhood of teratogens harming my baby. Small sacrifice for a big miracle.

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      • pete the elder July 31, 2012, 6:20 pm

        Make sure you avoid driving then. Don’t go to movies, run unessential errands, go out to eat etc. since there is a slight chance your baby will die from a car accident.

        Also avoid pools, bathtubs, staircases, etc. People die from those too.

        Make sure to cut all your food into tiny pieces so you don’t choke to death.

        Those are all small unselfish sacrifices you could make for your baby.

      • 6napkinburger July 31, 2012, 6:28 pm

        See I don’t get this, unless you’ve had trouble conceiving/a history of miscarriages. Why not find out what you can’t do and do the rest? Is it that you get a subtle validation in making unnecessary sacrifices of comforts? Why go in with the martyr attitude?

  • 6napkinburger July 31, 2012, 2:47 pm

    See, I have to think this is a troll comment, because it doesn’t address the fact that you are doing exactly what the “mommy wars” judgmental thing that everyone is talking about above. Should mothers wear hairshirts and deny themselves all worldly comforts for 18 years because they they decided to have a child? Is that what we want motherhood to mean? Pure sacrifice and no joy? What kind of generation is going to be raised whose parents lived only for them and their comforts with no regards for their own personhood? The shunning of the idea that motherhood = martyrdom is exactly what everyone else was saying and what you are espousing. While, I had a mother, not a martyr and I’m much happier for it. No one is saying that motherhood or pregnancy doesn’t take sacrifice — no one is saying that it’s business as usual and dammit, it’s my body, my choice and I choose to harm my baby. But we don’t know everything and everything is educated risk. To say — I will take no risks is the same as saying I will not live. Surely, most good mothers would die for their children if it came to down that, but they needn’t volunteer it when it isn’t even on the table. Those who choose to die for a cause that does not require their death are martyrs and women are not obligated to become one just because the line turned blue.

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    • Jess July 31, 2012, 3:01 pm

      Thank you for this measured and reasonable reply to the above guest’s comment. It’s exactly it. The fact is that the VAST majority of pregnant women are giving up A LOT. It’s a long list. And none of them are begging to imbibe things that would be harmful to their babies. I mean, come on!! Anyone that is paying attention would be aware that women are having babies later and later which means many of them are going to great lengths and long waiting periods to even GET pregnant. Do people really think those same women are ignorant of toxins or, worse, they are “so selfish” as to ignore the danger?? Does this sound reasonable?

      It isn’t. The push back from the pregnant ladies here is about asking the PUBLIC not to rush to judgement about matters they are not informed about. And to go a step further, to recognize (once educated on the topic) that there are a million nuances and uncertainties with pregnancy. The argument that “I’m not sure so I will abstain” sounds reasonable but that list is endless. Therefore, you can only ask a woman to make decisions that are reasonable for her. If that doesn’t work, the old “mind your business” approach is also a good one.

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      • pete the elder July 31, 2012, 5:47 pm

        Do you know what we are certain is slightly dangerous? Riding in a car. Thousands of people die every month in the US in car accidents and some of those deaths are pregnant women.

        Riding in a car is statistically a whole lot more dangerous to the baby than drinking an occasional glass of wine. We know for sure that some babies will die this year while the mother was driving somewhere, but don’t know if any babies at all will be harmed from very light drinking. Yet no one thinks twice about a pregnant woman driving to the movies, vacation, or other frivolous activity even though they could easily go nine months without driving to the movies for instance.

        People are really bad at understanding risk and worry about the wrong things because its emotionally easy to worry about things like alcohol.

      • Wendy July 31, 2012, 5:52 pm

        Yes!! Thank you.

  • Nonnie July 31, 2012, 5:25 pm

    I was a nervous wreck with my second pregnancy. My doctor recommended having a couple of ounces of wine 3-4 times a week to help me sleep. Little Miss Intern needs more experience and education before she opens her mouth and inserts her foot.

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  • Beth Donovan July 31, 2012, 5:52 pm

    Now, I’m old (59). When I was pregnant with my son, I had a lot of threatened miscarriages. My OB/GYN suggested I drink a glass of red wine every night to help my body relax, and it worked. My son, now 27 years old, was born on his due date and was not impaired in anyway. In fact, he was in the gifted program during grade and high school.

    Interestingly, my now-deceased mother-in-law was told by her OBGYN to drink a glass of creme de menthe each day to help prevent miscarriage. She had 5 children, every one of them healthy and smart.

    Also, look at Europe – everyone drinks there, nearly all the time, especially in France and Britain. Yet, they don’t have a zillion babies with fetal alcohol syndrome.

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  • Jessica August 1, 2012, 9:24 am

    I absolutely agree, Wendy. I enjoyed about a glass of wine a week while pregnant and I feel fine about it. I plan to do it for my next as well. Thank you!

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  • melancholia September 27, 2012, 6:08 pm

    I guess they publish a “study” like this and everyone seems to forget about a serious condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? Wendy sure does present her opinion very well. However, while I am very glad to hear that some women have drank while pregnant and have given birth to perfectly healthy babies, how MISERABLE would you feel as a mother if your baby had turned out otherwise? I would never, in a million years, risk my baby’s health for the sake of a glass of merlot… it’s just illogical. If you cannot handle avoiding alcohol for at least 9 months, then you should try and find a new source of relieving stress. How about trying yoga? Or meditation, or ANYTHING other than using alcohol?

    Would the responses to this be the same if I published a study I read about mothers who smoke pot while pregnant? I’m very interested to hear people’s stance on this. Because it’s the same results in that study – no evidence was found that connected birth defects (mental or otherwise) to babies born from mothers who had smoked pot during pregnancy. )

    While marijuana is an illegal substance in Canada/US, so was alcohol at one time or another, and just because there has been a study done that found “no evidence of significant effects on a child’s neurological development”, does not mean that it’s OK to indulge in alcohol/drugs while pregnant.

    I am giving my personal opinion here, of course everyone is entitled to make choices of their own, but this is one that I highly disagree with. It’s one thing if you are unaware that you are pregnant and you consume alcohol, but drinking it when you are fully aware that you are pregnant seems completely irresponsible to me.

    While I do agree that anyone and everyone’s parenting choices are going to be scrutinized at some point, I find a complete disconnection between choosing to drink alcohol while pregnant and choosing to wear “matching mother-daughter dresses” considering the fact that one CAN directly affect their child’s development and one is just a personal expression of character.

    Sure, this study has been done and everyone can very well do what they want and continue to drink while pregnant, should they choose to, but that is certainly not a risk I would ever be willing to take.

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  • mel anderson June 21, 2013, 6:24 pm

    some of your comments i find quite flippant. my partner has a sister whose has FAS. The entire family have stuck together with such denial and insists on the THE FAMILY SECRET senario, whilst i understand that she must have guilty feelings every day. i simply cannot accept why the rest of us must pay a High price for her mistake. You cant even have a normal conversation with the mother without her having major issues. No one should drink during pregnancy. end of. Whilst i can have compassion for the child with FAS i dont for the mother who carried on drinking regardless of the risk to the unborn child. Its almost as if people are saying to her ‘there there never mind, not too much harm has been done. Get real. my view having witnessed and been part of (with total regret now) the life of a family with such a condition.

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