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Can one have the occasional drink while pregnant?

By Anonymous January 30, 2009 - 9:00pm
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My sister, who is 25 just found out that she is pregnant and besides being really happy, is finding out all the things she can and can't have while pregnant and nursing.
She knows that drinking is generally thought of as being bad, but is some wine with dinner once in a while so terrible?
Is it maybe ok to have a little for special occasions, like on her Birthday?
Also, is sushi really a no no? And oysters?

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

These are great questions and congratulations to your sister on her pregnancy!

It's better to stay away from certain sushi when pregnant because raw fish is a risky choice due to the possibility of listeria and certain parasites and bacteria found in raw fish. So the same for raw oysters. Mercury levels are also a concern. A lot of sushi contains the kinds of fish found to have the highest levels of mercury like shark, Saba (mackerel) or Kajiki (swordfish).

But not all sushi is uncooked, she can always sample that. And generally, fish like salmon and tuna are full of omega-3 fatty acids which are great nutrients. Just be wary of albacore tuna due to mercury levels.

Some women eat a little sushi throughout pregnancy and are fine! Women in Japan eat it all the time. Your sister just needs to make sure she gets it from a reputable place.
On the same token, some women prefer to avoid uncooked fish, as well as soft cheeses (like Brie, for example) due to the bacteria risks I talked about above.

As far as alcohol is concerned, most people believe a single serving of alcohol on occasion (not every day or every other day) is fine in the second or third trimester. It is often recommended that a pregnant woman avoids alcohol altogether in the first trimester. This time is crucial for the baby and her brain development. And the good news is that many women don't feel remotely like drinking during those first rather sickly months.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a really serious and legitimate problem and has devastating long term consequences for the baby. There is no known "safe" level - science does not yet know how much alcohol causes FAS so many women prefer to abstain totally from alcohol. There are some good "near" beers out there, that taste pretty good (some are awful!) and contain less alcohol than your deodorant or perfume! I'd recommend Labatt Nordic. There are also some nice non-alcoholic wines out there too, find the ones that contain a lot of pear juice, they taste pretty good. And virgin cocktails are delicious!

We all have our individual no-no's when it comes to pregnancy. There were some things I abstained from 100% for the entire 9 months, other things that I took in moderation.

It's all a personal choice. A pregnant woman just needs to use common sense and moderation. These days, there seem to be so many rules and regulations regarding what is right and wrong in pregnancy, it's difficult to keep up, not to mention that these rules and regulations seem to change all the time!

January 31, 2009 - 5:48am

Great question! In the U.S., the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises pregnant women to avoid alcohol entirely. But a UK study, published online in October 2008 in the International Journal of Epidemiology reports that limited alcohol consumption is not so bad during pregnancy.

The data from this study showed as expected, that the worst outcomes were seen in children whose moms drank heavily while pregnant. But children of light-drinking moms had fewer behavioral or cognitive problems than those of abstinent moms.

Light drinking was defined as not more than two drinks (a 4-fluid-ounce glass of wine or 10 fluid ounces of weak beer) on a single occasion and not more than two occasions per week. The data also showed that no difference was seen between women who drank once or twice during their pregnancies and those who regularly enjoyed a weekend glass of wine.

The lead author of the UK study, Yvonne Kelly, an epidemiologist at University College London, says that the links between heavy drinking and fetal alcohol syndrome are undisputed but cautioned that little is still known about light drinking long term effects on babies.

You can read more about this study on this link: http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Features/0,1197,4697,00.html

January 30, 2009 - 10:00pm
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