Drinking While Pregnant: Not The Worst Thing.

You can drink while pregnant and, as long as it’s done in moderation, everything is probably going to be ok. Or maybe it won’t be ok. Heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause serious health issues for the baby, and no one seems to know exactly how much is too much, so the current guideline is “don’t drink.” No drinking means no fetal alcohol effects. But it might also mean a miserable pregnant lady. And stress and miserableness can lead to a series of health issues as well, including miscarriage.

So, you know, back off a woman who just wants a glass of wine. Or the runny egg. Or the deli meat. Or the soft cheese. Or the tuna sushi. Or the cup of coffee. Life is a balance between risk and reward; maybe just put the best public health information possible out there, and let preggos decide for themselves what to consume and which risks are worth taking.

(Naturally this is 100% self-interested. I don’t plan on becoming pregnant anytime soon or perhaps ever, but if I found myself in that situation, you would be prying the occasional glass of red wine out of my cold dead hands. Also cheese).

246 comments for “Drinking While Pregnant: Not The Worst Thing.

  1. Rebecca G
    June 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Here, here. I’m so sick of seeing articles basically saying, “It’s probably not harmful to drink sparingly during pregnancy… Oh but still don’t drink during pregnancy!”

    Policing pregnant women’s behavior… please stop.

  2. June 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Amen! I had an occasional glass of wine and a couple of glasses of beer while I was pregnant with my son (who is, incidentally, perfectly healthy) and I felt zero guilt about it. I would have been much less happy and more stressed had I insisted on being a complete teetotaler.

    Ironically, the most stress I encountered during my pregnancy was the direct result of busybodies attempting to police me and my actions – everything from a waiter giving me the side-eye when I ordered sushi, to a lady at my office telling me that I was “definitely going to miscarry” if I didn’t stop lifting 10lb boxes, to the woman on a pregnancy forum who told me she hoped my baby would have FAS to “teach me a lesson” about my irresponsible lifestyle.

    • June 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      everything from a waiter giving me the side-eye when I ordered sushi, to a lady at my office telling me that I was “definitely going to miscarry” if I didn’t stop lifting 10lb boxes, to the woman on a pregnancy forum who told me she hoped my baby would have FAS to “teach me a lesson” about my irresponsible lifestyle.

      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Omg. People are terrible. That’s not news, but JESUS.

  3. June 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Also, have you noticed how infantilizing these messages tend to be? Instead of, “alcohol and coffee can be harmful, so drink coffee and alcohol in moderation” it’s “QUIT DRINKING COFFEE AND ALCOHOL IMMEDIATELY.” Instead of “unpasteurized soft cheeses may have a higher risk of listeria,” it’s “DON’T EAT ANY SOFT CHEESES.” Like, are we not intelligent enough to make decisions about our own bodies?

    …Oh yeah.

  4. June 22, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I can see the reasoning behind erring on the side of caution and just NOT drinking at all.. because we don’t know where that threshold is.

    Trigger warning for suicidal ideation:

    My ex and I split up shortly after I found out I was preggers with the youngest one. The stress caused me to start smoking again, although I limited myself to two cigarettes a day, if at all.

    My reasoning was that the damage I was doing to myself and my baby by have a cigarette when I was really stressed out was probably a hell of a lot less than the damage I would do walking into heavy traffic, which was something that occasionally crossed my mind when I was most stressed out and/or depressed.

    My daughter weighed 6lbs 2oz at birth.. pretty small in a family of 8lb babies. Was it the smoking? Maybe. Could have been the stress. I don’t know, either way. Do I feel bad about it? Sometimes.. I’d probably feel a lot worse if I was witness to any long term effects.

  5. emily
    June 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    One of the many things I hated about being pregnant was that the world just expected me to stop being a person, that I shouldn’t do the things that I wanted to do or needed to do, like take cold medicine, because I wasn’t a person with a cold, I was a vessel.

  6. Bagelsan
    June 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    As I recall from my Nutrition class, the advice for pregnant people regarding alcohol is about the same as for caffeinated beverages: aim for 1-2 per day max. Not nearly as restrictive as the teetotaling demanded by society.

  7. Bagelsan
    June 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    On the other hand… Not drinking any alcohol isn’t that hard. People on medications like mine do it all the time. So the judging is bad, but not drinking isn’t the worst thing either. :p

    • June 22, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      On the other hand… Not drinking any alcohol isn’t that hard. People on medications like mine do it all the time. So the judging is bad, but not drinking isn’t the worst thing either. :p

      Sure, it’s not the worst thing, but for some people it actually would be quite hard, or at least very far from ideal. I’m one of those people. I love wine; I love a good cocktail. Having a nice glass of wine with dinner makes the whole experience significantly more pleasurable. Not drinking would be sad and difficult for me — not because I NEED alcohol to function (I certainly don’t drink every day) but because it’s a pleasure-centered activity that I really enjoy. Not eating cheese would be sad and difficult for me too. Or not eating fruit or vegetables.

  8. June 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    but not drinking isn’t the worst thing either.

    No, it’s not. But being given the stinkeye (or worse) by someone as you have the first wine spritzer you’ve had in about five months because dammit, it’s ONE WINE SPRITZER sucks pretty hard.

  9. am.w
    June 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    While I definitely agree that less policing is good, and I like booze and might want a drink while pregnant, I’m not sure how well this study applies to other populations. I’ve read a couple of the papers in the cohort of studies, and they don’t really address the racial and genetic make-up of the study population. The racial make-up of Denmark is different from, say, the US. And the past few years have produced a lot of work on the genetics, race and FAS. It appears that the same amount of drinks impacts women (and their fetuses) from different backgrounds differently.

    A lot of publications haven’t been properly critical about the scope of the research and how well it applies to non-white women. I don’t even know how this research applies to me, since the information about if anyone like me was included in this study is buried somewhere in one of five contemporaneous journal publications.

  10. Echo Zen
    June 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    If someone’s ignorant enough to lecture you on how you shouldn’t drink while pregnant, try asking them if you should drive while pregnant, since you’re so obviously endangering the darn fetus that way!

  11. June 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    If someone’s ignorant enough to lecture you on how you shouldn’t drink while pregnant, try asking them if you should drive while pregnant, since you’re so obviously endangering the darn fetus that way!

    Haven’t you heard? Pregnant people are expected to confine themselves to bed for 9 months. Driving, walking up and down stairs, waving hello too vigorously at the neighbours… All dangerous! HORRORS.

    No, seriously, most of these same people would turn around and tell you not drive. :( Pregnancy-policing is hardcore.

  12. Anne Marie
    June 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I’m mostly with you but are you actually arguing that not drinking would stress a woman so much that she could have a stress-induced miscarriage so she might as well drink? Really?

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/early-miscarriage/AN01727

    • June 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      I’m mostly with you but are you actually arguing that not drinking would stress a woman so much that she could have a stress-induced miscarriage so she might as well drink? Really?

      …no.

  13. Jim
    June 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    “Not nearly as restrictive as the teetotaling demanded by society.”

    Bagelsan, never underestimate the power rush of getting all Puritan about someone else’s life. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  14. Echo Zen
    June 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I’d hope berating women for daring to drive while pregnant is the line at which even a GOPer might start to hem or haw about his belief that women are stupid children, who need supervision from a bunch of infantalisers who think they know more about women’s health than pregnant women do.

  15. June 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    If I am ever pregnant, I will happily avoid some foods. However, I would want to
    a) know WHY I was supposed to avoid them
    b) make my own decision as to whether I would avoid them or not.

    And, along with Jill, they can pry my wine out of my cold dead hands.

  16. Schmorgluck
    June 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Funny that… I had never heard of that objection to pregnant women eating cheese. Any cheese. Then again, I’m French…

  17. robotile
    June 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I just had a kid, and boy, was I pissed off by the restrictions imposed on me by society. All of our friends drink as the main social activity, so not drinking basically meant sharply curtailing my social life. And when I did drink, everyone asked about it (politely of course, but in a way that still makes you self conscious). Being depressed and friendless is definitely bad for babies. Now that I have the kid, breastfeeding has become the new substitute. Basically you’ve lent your body to a parasite for 9+ months and now you are expected to continue to do so, in a way that makes working practically impossible. If you don’t, expect to be judged as the worst mother ever. The reason people don’t have kids anymore is because our society has constructed the most joyless, stressful, and tedious concept of parenthood–i.e., ceasing to exist as a person except as a furtherance of your offspring.

  18. pheenobarbidoll
    June 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Wouldn’t have mattered if I did or not, I had morning sickness all day every damn day the entire pregnancy from hell.

  19. Donna L
    June 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    One of the strangest looks I’ve gotten was when I told someone that I finally quit smoking for good the day my son was born, forgetting that there was something about me that the person didn’t know, and that they understandably jumped to the wrong conclusion. I won’t make that mistake again.

  20. Bagelsan
    June 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    @ DonnaL, okay that’s kind of hilarious. Like you carried the kid 9 months and then done smoking! :D

  21. Crystal
    June 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Personally I never saw it as a way of “controlling women.” But as a way to keep your own kids healthy. So if a parent (male or female) is letting their young toddler drink and smoke, are we supposed to just turn our heads?
    What about women who do heroin? Cocaine? Look the other way just so they won’t feel like “vessels” that’s a freaking new life you are responsible for.
    Driving and walking is a necessity for the vast majority, you don’t have to drink.
    Would you also give the death stare to a person of size for choosing to eat and accuse them of one day catching diabetes? I hear that one all the time. Only difference is there is not an innocent child involved.

  22. benvolio
    June 22, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    I’m old enough to remember when the connection between pregnant women drinking and FAS was first established. In the reporting at the time, the researchers asserted that there was ‘certainly’ a safe level of alcohol intake (as proven by millennia of women before ours, many of whom consumed alcohol daily because fresh water was hard to come by), but that testing for whatever that level would be was difficult to do ethically. So they didn’t do it then.

    And so, because American obgyns are miserably lawsuit shy, they immediately opted to counsel their patients that the only safe level was zero, because it was the only safe level for themselves. If a patient drank against advice and had an adverse outcome, well, not the doc’s fault, now, was it? And because Americans really like policing the food intake of women in general, and pregnant women especially, it was only a short hop to warning labels on beer and bars refusing to serve, and social stinkeye everywhere you go.

    It’s been a chore to fight against that stigma since the early eighties, and most of the time I don’t win, but I gotta say I’m pleased to see this study. Science after all!

  23. Azalea
    June 22, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again; if a grown woman wants to drink wine, tequila, rum, vodka or a combination thereof with a cigarette after base jumping whiel pregnant- it’s her business and she shouldn’t be judged EXCEPT by the fetus who becomes the person who has to live the rest of their lives dealing with damage from her choices made while pregnant. Nobody else has a right to judge her for it.

    I’m biased. I know a woman who drank while she was pregnant and her child had FAS, some permanent brain damage and deformities went down in utero. Ironically, the woman who encouraged her to “drink in moderation” chose not to drink at all when she became pregnant a year later. Call it scared straight, but after seeing up close what my choices while pregnant could do to my child not drinking just wasn’t all that hard for me the moment I found out I was pregnant.

    My cousin’s mom wasn’t showing very much when she was pregnant with him, she went to three amusement parks that summer, got on roller coaster rides. The roller coasters had no ill effect on her body but it really fucked him up.

    My mother would tell me, fathers don’t bear the brunt of fatherhood until after birth but one of the biggest challenges to motherhood starts the moment you find out you are pregnant. What you do while pregnant could determine the health and ability of your child for the rest of his or her life.

    It isn’t about you no longer existing because you’re pregnant, it’s simply about being considerate of the fetus who will (hopefully) be born and become a child -your- child.

  24. khw
    June 22, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    @22 DonnaL

    I’m sorry, but that comment is pretty darn funny!

  25. khw
    June 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    @24 benvolio

    I’d have to agree – the first fermented beverages (ones that were DELIBERATELY fermented) appear to have come from China around 8,000 years ago.

    (I say ‘deliberately’ as anthropologists have the “Drunken Monkey Theory” regarding the use made by animals in the wild when they find fermented fruits, and which has to be one of the most entertaining academic theory titles ever!)

    While, drinking cocktails while pregnant is probably not such a good idea, wine and beer have been around for thousands of years in pretty much all cultural regions – distillation is a pretty modern invention – and, if not to excess, probably won’t do much harm. Or at least, probably no less than the crap we’re exposed to thanks to exhaust fumes.

    I’m child-less, I’ve never been pregnant and am not to sure that I’ll get the chance to have a biological kid, but, I know my mother had the occasional tipple when she was pregnant with me and my siblings. All of whom turned out pretty good.

  26. bleh
    June 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I think we need to point out that *even if* one sip of alcohol might harm the fetus, women still must have autonomy to choose the cigarette or the glass(es) of wine. Of course, one hopes that reason and scientific evidence about possible dangers helps women to choose options like limiting alcohol to a glass or avoiding soft cheese unless it is a special occasion, but that is still her choice. Otherwise, fetus trumps woman’s autonomy – not ok. My friend was denied a cup of coffee by an overzealous barista while pregnant. Super. not. ok.

  27. June 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I find that the infantalization of pregnancy and parenthood often stems from a fear of lawsuits. For example, I came down with a killer UTI while I was pregnant. I was in pretty considerable pain, but I already had an appointment set up for later in the week, so I called my OB’s office to ask if I could take the OTC painkiller for UTIs. The nurse-practitioner told me she couldn’t recommend that for me because of possible side-effects. Two pain-filled days later, my OB prescribed me the exact same painkiller that I had wanted to get for myself. I just wanted to know if the medication was contra-indicated with pregnancy, but I had to be treated as if I were too stupid to decide if I could take something without a doctor’s help.

    This is the same thing I see with co-sleeping. Instead of empowering parents to make whatever choice is best for them, the AAP simply says “It’s Verboten!!!” Again, I think the fear of lawsuits is (at least one) driving force behind these black-and-white pronouncements.

  28. bleh
    June 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Misplaced modifiers also not ok – sorry. ;0

  29. Unree
    June 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Know what’s dangerous for pregnant women? Men. Homicide is either the leading cause of death for pregnant women or the second-leading, depending on which study you read, and most of the killers are the women’s partners. The CDC estimates that 4-8% of pregnant women in the US are battered by their partners. Compare the number zero–that’s how many studies have found that moderate drinking during pregnancy harms a fetus.

  30. kai
    June 22, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    If I ever carry a fetus I’m gonna be on my motorcycle until I no longer fit. I bet a ‘baby on board’ patch would get me a little road space ;)

  31. June 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Well said. The sort of sanctimonious and patronising strategies aimed at preventing drinking and smoking during pregnancy (or indeed anytime) are precisely the sort that spectacularly failed to prevent illegal drug use.

  32. ~s~
    June 22, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    It just occurred to me that saying “The only way to be completely sure your baby won’t get FAS is to not drink at all” is a lot like saying “The only way to be completely sure you don’t get pregnant is to not have sex at all.”

    Every time I read one of these stories about body policing I become more and more convinced that the US is a strange land where many people think everything in life is ALL or NOTHING.

  33. Phoenix Spirit
    June 23, 2012 at 12:20 am

    to a lady at my office telling me that I was “definitely going to miscarry” if I didn’t stop lifting 10lb boxes, to the woman on a pregnancy forum who told me she hoped my baby would have FAS to “teach me a lesson” about my irresponsible lifestyle.

    Ugh. That is so disgusting. I wish I could say it surprises me though – I know more than one woman who has been told that exact line, including a friend who was told they hoped she would miscarry so it would “teach her a lesson”.

  34. tinfoil hattie
    June 23, 2012 at 12:44 am

    oh god, pheeno, me too. Both times. It’s impossible to adequately convey how fucking miserable it is to have hyperemesis during pregnancy.

  35. Sarah
    June 23, 2012 at 3:09 am

    As much as I agree with the policy of pregnant women’s personal business not being a matter of public opinion just because they’re pregnant, I can’t help thinking some of what’s being said here is unfair.

    They say “Don’t drink while pregnant” because there’s no way to study how much alcohol a fetus can be exposed to before causing damage without getting into seriously unethical practices. From what I understand, most research on the subject is done through surveys that ask mothers to disclose their alcohol consumption, and unfortunately our society puts a lot of pressure on women to lie about just about everything they are (technically) free to do in order to escape judgment for their own choices, especially in cases where “drinking while pregnant” is used as a red flag for future child abuse and neglect investigations.

    Moderate drinking *probably* won’t harm the pregnancy, but some may be more or less sensitive than others, or there may be allergic reactions, or any number of other factors that are completely individual to that particular pregnancy. It’s a crapshoot. In other spaces I’ve seen this issue compared to abstinence-only education and how really unrealistic it is, but I think that’s a false parallel; it’s not because we as a culture condemn mothers drinking that pregnant women are advised not to drink, it’s because it’s a legitimate risk, and one that is extremely difficult to express in statistics.

    That being said, it’s wrong for complete strangers to feel they have a right to demand pregnant women conform to their idea of appropriate behavior. Still (and correct me if I’m wrong), doesn’t the example here– the woman who, if she doesn’t get a glass of wine, is going to be so stressed and miserable that she could miscarry– describe an alcoholic?

  36. Alexandra
    June 23, 2012 at 3:19 am

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned is the window of time during which alcohol has the most effect on the embryo/fetus — thIe first three months, and particularly the first four to six weeks. Many women are unaware that they are pregnant until the most critical period may have passed. Alcohol continues to have teratogenic effects throughout pregnancy, however.

    It’s also worth noting that the range of effects from drinking alcohol during pregnancy range from the mild and fairly transient all the way up to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. When my aunt was pregnant seven years ago, her doctor said it would be fine for her to drink occasionally starting at about five months, because at that period of development limited alcohol intake was unlikely to have severe effects. On the other hand, the early period of pregnancy, when women are most likely to be unaware of their pregnancies (and therefore most likely to be drinking ‘normally’), alcohol can have its most serious effects on the neural tube and developing organs.

    Also, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has been around for centuries – the Royal College of Physicians noted an uptick after the first gin dens began to make their appearances in London and other British cities in the 18th century, and undoubtedly children have been born for millennia affected to some degree.

  37. Echo Zen
    June 23, 2012 at 3:35 am

    Know what’s dangerous for pregnant women? Men. Homicide is either the leading cause of death for pregnant women or the second-leading, depending on which study you read, and most of the killers are the women’s partners.

    I’d love to know how the police-rs of pregnant women’s bodies react when you spring that gem on them.

  38. chava
    June 23, 2012 at 4:07 am

    That being said, it’s wrong for complete strangers to feel they have a right to demand pregnant women conform to their idea of appropriate behavior. Still (and correct me if I’m wrong), doesn’t the example here– the woman who, if she doesn’t get a glass of wine, is going to be so stressed and miserable that she could miscarry– describe an alcoholic?

    No. Because it isn’t about the glass of wine, it’s about removing almost all daily sources of pleasure from a woman’s life and then terrifying her that everything left might STILL be dangerous. It’s a time in a woman’s life where we can’t traditionally tell her to *diet,* exactly, so instead we foist this bizarre Puritanical hopscotch on her. Gain weight, but not too much weight. Enjoy food, but live in a state of constant! vigilance!. Get exercise, but not too much or the wrong kind. Argh.

    The rhetoric of “well, we have no proof, but it might not be safe, so better abstain!” pisses me off so much, there are no words. Followed of course by “it’s only 9 months! what’s the big deal?” Pregnancy and breastfeeding are physically taxing, emotionally exhausting, and take easily over a year, combined. Giving up major sources of physical/emotional pleasure is a big deal, ok?

    It isn’t just alcohol–when I was pregnant I saw articles/advice urging me to abstain from, let’s count: tylenol*, raw vegetables, laptops, cellphones, alcohol, caffeine, soft cheese, petting cats, cookie dough, runny eggs, medium or rare meat, pate, lunchmeat, hotdogs, sushi, oysters, certain fish, etc etc ad infinitum. Some of these things have evidence of reasonable risk, most don’t.

    I drew the line one day when my facial cleanser, which has some salycilic acid in it, fell prey to the “we have zero proof, but taking aspirin orally is bad, so abstain!”

    *one of the few painkillers traditionally considered safe. Of course, while I was pregnant they came out with a slew of articles announcing it would give your children asthma. With no evidence, of course, just a shitty hypothesis generating study.

  39. chava
    June 23, 2012 at 4:18 am

    And for the record? SOFT CHEESE IS FINE. As long as it ain’t raw milk, unpasturized soft cheese, it is FINE. So back right up off that “oh well as long as she’s only eating that Brie on a special occasion!” nonsense.

  40. Azalea
    June 23, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Personally I never saw it as a way of “controlling women.” But as a way to keep your own kids healthy. So if a parent (male or female) is letting their young toddler drink and smoke, are we supposed to just turn our heads?

    Yeah it IS controlling women. It requires SELF control to abstain from doing things you want or otherwise would do while pregnant. Not drinking at all while pregnant is going “the extra mile” nobody should be forced to go the extra mile, it’s like saying because school is so expensive every parent should have a lofty education fund BEFORE the child is born or else they don’t care about the child’s edducation at all. Not everybody can, will or want to do that but it doesn’t mean they love or care for their child any less if they don’t.

    And, toddlers can’t be aborted. If a pregnant person does something to damage the fetus and it’s caught early the fetus can be aborted. A fetus does not have human rights because those rights are not conveyed until birth.

    People know the risks, if they decide to take them they have chosen , after careful deliberation or not, to do so and it’s legal for a reason. Notice that the people here who said they would drink are talking about wine, not hard liquer which contains a much higher volume and proof of alcohol and could be more dangerous.

  41. tmc
    June 23, 2012 at 4:57 am

    it’s not because we as a culture condemn mothers drinking that pregnant women are advised not to drink, it’s because it’s a legitimate risk, and one that is extremely difficult to express in statistics.

    I disagree strongly. We as a culture condemn pregnant women that drink because we’ll condemn pregnant women for ANYTHING. As has been mentioned before, there is a slew of evidence that partner violence is a legitimate risk to pregnant women, but there has been no particular effort to prevent that.

    In fact, I’ve heard people express the opinion that pregnant women who are being abused by their partners are child abusers themselves, because they are “allowing” their partner to beat them AND the fetus they’re carrying. Even homicide is something that can and will be blamed on pregnant women.

  42. Azalea
    June 23, 2012 at 5:13 am

    The CDC estimates that 4-8% of pregnant women in the US are battered by their partners. Compare the number zero–that’s how many studies have found that moderate drinking during pregnancy harms a fetus.

    Good luck finding those who 1) want to be 2) ar epregnant 3) not planning on termination 4) know the risk of alcohol consumption 5) will agree to drink alcohol not knowing what it will or will not do to this fetus they hope will be born a healthy child.

    And yeah. There are people out there who do NOT want a fetus with their DNA to see the light of day as a child. Not too long ago there was a PG County police officer who killed his pregnant mistress and her child from a previous relationship because she wouldn’t get an abortion. This isn’t some rare story, many women who don’t abort face abuse or death at the hands of the man who impregnanted her because he doesn’t want to be a father. When a pregnant woman is dead or missing the first suspect is the man who impregnanted her that’s the way it should be.

  43. Sarah
    June 23, 2012 at 5:23 am

    The rhetoric of “well, we have no proof, but it might not be safe, so better abstain!” pisses me off so much, there are no words.

    But that’s not what anyone’s saying in the case of alcohol. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome exists, we know that drinking during pregnancy can cause complications. We just don’t have a way to define a threshold of what is or isn’t a harmful amount. It’s not “Hey, preggo, you can’t be trusted to think for yourself so put down the chardonnay, you wino”, it’s “better safe than sorry”. (Again, not that anyone has any right to order anybody around, pregnant or not, I’m just saying it’s more common sense than social control)

    I don’t know where they come up with the cheese and Tylenol stuff, though, as far as I know there’s no “Fetal Cheese Syndrome” or “Fetal Aspirin Syndrome”. That sounds straight-up insane.

  44. emily
    June 23, 2012 at 7:14 am

    @Crystal24

    Personally I never saw it as a way of “controlling women.” But as a way to keep your own kids healthy. So if a parent (male or female) is letting their young toddler drink and smoke, are we supposed to just turn our heads?
    What about women who do heroin? Cocaine? Look the other way just so they won’t feel like “vessels” that’s a freaking new life you are responsible for.
    Driving and walking is a necessity for the vast majority, you don’t have to drink.
    Would you also give the death stare to a person of size for choosing to eat and accuse them of one day catching diabetes? I hear that one all the time. Only difference is there is not an innocent child involved.

    Since heroin and cocaine are much more dangerous for the user, no I don’t think we as a society looks the other way when a non-pregnant person does it. I’m not going to follow you don’t that slippery slope, and I don’t think anyone else here is advocating for hard drug use, while pregnant or not. Personally, I’m advocating for better research. I felt like a vessel when I needed something (like, as I said, cold medicine. Do you do cocaine when you have a cold?) and doctors and pharmacists said, you know, we don’t really know what it does to a fetus, so you shouldn’t take it even though you need it. I’m sorry that was too difficult to understand.

  45. Karin
    June 23, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Alcohol as stress relieve to prevent a miscarriage? Really?

  46. EchoSixSix
    June 23, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Don’t want to be told what to do? That’s okay.

    Having said that, If you do drink and your child turns out to have FAS, I think that the state should chase you to cover any expenses borne by the taxpayer as a consequence of the FAS – just like they chase men who have not paid child support. This should include the mothers of FAS babies given for adoption.

  47. chava
    June 23, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Having said that, If you do drink and your child turns out to have FAS, I think that the state should chase you to cover any expenses borne by the taxpayer as a consequence of the FAS – just like they chase men who have not paid child support. This should include the mothers of FAS babies given for adoption.

    Your child will not get FAS from 1-2 drinks a week. None of the evidence indicates that this is possible. Aside from which, yes, let’s absolutely make all women whose children have FAS pay a sin tax. Then we’ll start on those women who have unprotected sex and get AIDS, eh?

    Look, binge drinking while you’re pregnant sucks. No one is questioning that.

  48. EG
    June 23, 2012 at 8:33 am

    If you do drink and your child turns out to have FAS, I think that the state should chase you to cover any expenses borne by the taxpayer as a consequence of the FAS – just like they chase men who have not paid child support. This should include the mothers of FAS babies given for adoption.

    Really? And what if I decide that going off anti-depressants when I’m pregnant is unbearable for me, and my child is born with a mid-line defect? Does the state get to punish me for that decision too, or is that one between me and my doctor?

    Speaking as a feminist and as somebody with a basic sense of human rights, the state has no business whatsoever making medical decisions.

  49. EG
    June 23, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Although, quite frankly, if they go after women “just like they go after men who have not paid child support,” we have little to fear, as long as we’re white, of course.

  50. bleh
    June 23, 2012 at 8:47 am

    “If you do drink and your child turns out to have FAS, I think that the state should chase you to cover any expenses borne by the taxpayer as a consequence of the FAS – just like they chase men who have not paid child support. This should include the mothers of FAS babies given for adoption.”

    May the universe hold you to the same standards in every facet of your life from now until long after your death.

  51. EG
    June 23, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Also, you know what really helps babies with FAS? Impoverishing their mothers. That is sure to increase their quality of life. Also, people who smoke should have to pay for their own treatments in the event of cancer or something. In fact, if you don’t live your entire life in all its facets within every current medical guideline, you should have to pay for anything that goes wrong.

  52. EchoSixSix
    June 23, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Aside from which, yes, let’s absolutely make all women whose children have FAS pay a sin tax.

    Recovery of public expenses does not sin tax make. It’s just that, recovery of expenses which would obviously vary between cases.

    Am I to then conclude that for you, the personal responsibility for the expenses that you create is a sin tax when it concerns actions of women?

    Like you say, FAS is not something that just happens after one or two drinks. :)

    Then we’ll start on those women who have unprotected sex and get AIDS, eh?

    No, but lets start recovering public costs from those women and men who recklessly transmit these kind of diseases to other people. In fact, in certain ways we already do.

    Really? And what if I decide that going off anti-depressants when I’m pregnant is unbearable for me, and my child is born with a mid-line defect? Does the state get to punish me for that decision too, or is that one between me and my doctor?

    Speaking as a feminist and as somebody with a basic sense of human rights, the state has no business whatsoever making medical decisions.

    This discussion is about FAS. I am not making any statement towards your prescribed medication.

    Also, you know what really helps babies with FAS? Impoverishing their mothers. That is sure to increase their quality of life.

    In those cases, we can wait until the child is 21 before starting to collect, no problem.

  53. Azalea
    June 23, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Your child will not get FAS from 1-2 drinks a week. None of the evidence indicates that this is possible.

    That depends on what you drink and how your body and fetus reacts to alcohol. I had a week of bar hoping and parties filled with very strong drinks a week before finding out I was pregnant. I was lucky my child is ok. The 5 months pregnant woman who had a grand total 2 drinks during that week has a child with FAS. I know because she actually lived and worked with me that unless she was sneaking liquer in the bathroom she only had those two before going into labor two and a half months later and delivering a baby with FAS. Two shots of whiskey at 5 months, two shots of rum at 3 months and a couple glasses of wine the day she went into labor.

  54. June 23, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I had the occasional glass of dry red wine during the later stages of my pregnancy. I also turned to beer when, after going back to work, my milk supply would periodically drop. Nothing else worked – not fenugreek, not those fancy teas for the lactating ladies – just simple, Soviet-style Zhiguli beer and the like. I’d have one with my lunch and then would be able to pump enough for the morning right before I went home to be with the kidlet. I don’t suppose any magic was involved, it just helped me relax – esp. since my tolerance was down.

    As it is with most substances and foods (and no, I’m not counting “cocaine” among them – Jesus Christ, concern troll much?), moderation is key.

  55. Sarah
    June 23, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Having said that, If you do drink and your child turns out to have FAS, I think that the state should chase you to cover any expenses borne by the taxpayer as a consequence of the FAS – just like they chase men who have not paid child support. This should include the mothers of FAS babies given for adoption.

    I’m not sure I agree with the methodology you’re describing, but I’m with you on the intent. Alcohol is not a medication or a medically necessary component of a healthy diet, and if alcohol consumption is so vital to a woman’s happiness that they can’t safely carry a child to term, it’s probably time for AA. If a woman knowingly chooses to risk harming her fetus via alcohol consumption and that risk becomes a reality, I don’t think it’s painting her with a scarlet letter or demanding she pay a tax for her sinful ways to limit the burden that her choice puts on taxpayers. I don’t have a good plan for that, myself, but I support the idea.

  56. EG
    June 23, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Recovery of public expenses does not sin tax make. It’s just that, recovery of expenses which would obviously vary between cases.

    Why would recovery of public expenses vary depending on whether or not the drug was prescription? It doesn’t make any difference to the public coffers, does it? You’re talking about punishment for behavior you find objectionable, not recovery of public expenses.

    Like you say, FAS is not something that just happens after one or two drinks. :)

    Sure! No problem for good women! Just those bad heavy drinkers! It’s not like they might in fact have problems that we might have helped with–nope, it’s all good, let’s just take all their assets! Smiley-face!

    In those cases, we can wait until the child is 21 before starting to collect, no problem.

    Your link has nothing to do with your statement, and has nothing to do with FAS–deadbeat dads are relevant, but taking another drug while pregnant isn’t? Also interesting: 21 years is past the statute of limitations on most things that are actually illegal.

    It’s fortunate for your idea that mothers and children separate irrevocably at 21, and nothing bad that happens to the mother has any consequences for the child, materially or emotionally, particularly when the child is already disabled. Good plan.

  57. EG
    June 23, 2012 at 9:46 am

    if alcohol consumption is so vital to a woman’s happiness that they can’t safely carry a child to term, it’s probably time for AA.

    So basically, punish women for being addicts while pregnant. Awesome. That won’t discourage women from seeking prenatal care, or treatment for an affected baby after it is born at all, no way. And hey, if it does, and three of the conditions that positively affect people with FAS and improve their life chances are “being diagnosed with FAS before age six,” “having been found eligible for developmental disability (DD) services,” and “having a diagnosis of FAS (rather than another FASD condition),” I guess that’s just too bad, right?

    What is this stinginess about spending tax money helping people with FAS? You resent it that much? Tell you what; when every single member of the Bush administration who lied about WMDs reimburses the public coffers for the cost of the war, we can start harassing unfortunate women.

  58. Sarah
    June 23, 2012 at 9:49 am

    You’re talking about punishment for behavior you find objectionable, not recovery of public expenses.

    I take issue with this. Alcohol isn’t medicine. Although I personally wouldn’t differentiate between substances (if only because the principle is the same, and there are plenty of children that need adopting if a person needs a medication that is known to cause birth defects) I think making the informed decision to risk harm to your fetus should revoke your claim to government assistance if that risk becomes reality.

    I don’t like to make analogies because I don’t usually see them as being parallel, but I see it like this: if I leave my car parked overnight in a known high-crime area, with the doors unlocked, the windows open, and the keys inside, my insurance is not going to cover me for it when something bad happens to my car. That’s just my two cents, though; take or leave at will.

  59. Sarah
    June 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

    So basically, punish women for being addicts while pregnant.

    Do you really consider treatment for an addiction to be a punishment? Alcoholism isn’t a religion or a sexual orientation, it’s a disease, and a dangerous one that harms everyone around them. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for an addicted parent/soon-to-be parent to be required to enter or complete a rehabilitation program before receiving assistance.

    I agree that there are a lot of people out there who need to be held accountable for actions, but the topic of discussion is drinking during pregnancy, not WMD’s. That being said, I’m stepping away from this debate; the fallacy of “this issue has less merit than that issue, therefore this issue has no merit” tends to be a bit poisonous.

  60. DoublyLinkedLists
    June 23, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Seriously? We’re seriously pretending to be worried about the “public expense” of FAS babies? Because of the poor taxpayer?

    And then we’re comparing that to paying child support, as if each and every taxpayer is just like a single mother trying to raise a child without the father around.

    EchoSIxSix you can seriously fuck off with your trivial bullshit and your obnoxious emoticons.

    I can’t imagine what motivation you could have for your comments other than misogyny.

    Because it’s really those irresponsible women with their FAS babies that have been growing the US deficit.

    Sheesh.

  61. June 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Tell you what; when every single member of the Bush administration who lied about WMDs reimburses the public coffers for the cost of the war, we can start harassing unfortunate women.

    Oh, EG, if only.

  62. Nicole
    June 23, 2012 at 10:41 am

    As someone who works in the healthcare field, I can tell you that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is far more devastating to the infant than being born addicted to crack or heroine. A fetus born addicted to crack or heroine can be treated with phenobarbital or methadone, respectively. These babies will likely cry non-stop, have tremors, and be irritable until the end of their treatment, which while sounds bad, is nothing compared to the life-long devastation caused by exposure to alcohol while in the womb. People with fetal alcohol syndrome have life-long facial deformities, mild to severe mental retardation, poor adaptive behavior, slower development of social skills, as well as poor memory, language, and motor skills. There is vast proof that the prognosis for fetuses born addicted to crack or heroine is far more favorable than for those born having been exposed to alcohol, although articles on CNN.com will not tell you this. For the most part, drug addicted babies can be treated and lead normal lives, while there is little to no chance of normalcy for those born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Physicians have to tell you that to quit drinking while pregnant, because there is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnant. Also, one drink a day may be fine for an infant born to one mother, but devastating for another, and there is no way to know how it will affect your infant specifically. If you cannot stop drinking for 9 months, you most likely aren’t at the stage in your life where you should be getting pregnant.

  63. Kierra
    June 23, 2012 at 11:08 am

    as far as I know there’s no “Fetal Cheese Syndrome”

    It’s called listeria. It’s a bacteria that can reproduce at 4 degrees C (the temperature that frigs are at). It can cause flu-like symptoms in healthy adults, more serious disease in immune-compromised individuals, and fetal death. It’s the reason that lunch meats are also on the no-eat list for pregnant women. That said, pasteurized cheeses are perfectly safe and even most lunch meats are not going to be contaminated.

  64. Ohio Teach
    June 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    LOL. If lifting 10 lb. boxes guaranteed a miscarriage, there’d be a lot fewer unwanted children around.

  65. robotile
    June 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    A few studies have shown babies of mothers who drink 1 to 2 drinks a few times a week have children who are happier, smile more, and have larger vocabularies. It’s probably because women who are drinking socially or moderately are either already in a certain social class where they have more advantages and less worries in the womb. They are also probably more relaxed themselves and likely have better social networks–social networks that may be frayed if she abstains completely. Sure, it’s likely that that effect is intrinsic to the women themselves, not to the healing powers of alcohol, but even weaker (read: no) evidence is used to ban moderate alcohol intake outright. Historically, alcohol has also been prescribed by doctors (and still sometimes is), when women have uterine irritability that could lead to premature birth. It’s actually quite effective. So maybe not drinking actually does confer drinks, and we shouldn’t therefore tell women that “better safe than sorry” when safe may actually be less than optimal in this case.
    Beyond that, women who are so miserable because they can’t have a drink during pregnancy are not necessarily alcoholics; alcohol is a social marker that plays a role in many many activities. I drink maybe one to two drinks per week, always with friends. But not getting to drink those two drinks a week was a huge deal for me, because it was a larger symbol that I was losing my current life and social network and was embarking on a new journey where I had no one else going with me (none of our friends are breeders as yet). Combined with the fact that I was already stopping my rock climbing, I felt like my whole lifestyle was abruptly changing in ways that depressed me. So yes, not drinking can make people who are not alcoholics pretty bummed out and that can have negative consequences.
    Also, I’ve had two miscarriages. AT the time I constantly second guessed the things I did to make them happen. But my doctors basically told me (the vast majority of these are chromosomal defects that have nothing to do with whether you ran or whether you drank a glass of alcohol before pregnancy.) The reality is that most of the time, we actually will never know what causes one kid to be super healthy and another to have problems, and when something bad does happen, guilting women about all these meager and ill-documented risks just encourages them to beat themselves up about it. That doesn’t seem to help anyone.
    Also, so what if women who drink enough to harm their babies are usually alcoholics? Are we in the business of punishing people for not being able to get their shit together? Or should we actually be trying to reduce harm by a helping women get into situations that don’t suck as much?

  66. robotile
    June 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I meant “maybe not drinking does confer risks”, not drinks. Err, sleepless nights with a 6 week old make me feel dumb.

  67. tmc
    June 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I think making the informed decision to risk harm to your fetus should revoke your claim to government assistance if that risk becomes reality.

    You mean like if I ate three cans of tuna in a week instead of the recommended two? Or if my husband is out of town for a week and I clean the cat’s litterbox while he’s gone? Or if I exercise too hard and my heart rate gets too high? Or if I don’t exercise enough?

    Give me a fucking break. Every thing a pregnant woman does has some measure of risk to the fetus because the fact of the fucking matter is that nothing guarantees a healthy baby. You can do everything “right” (like I did with my first pregnancy) and still end up with a miscarriage (like I did with my first pregnancy) or a stillbirth or a child with a disability. Punishing women who don’t follow your rules with their own bodies (and yes! a woman’s body is still her own even if it contains a fetus!) is misogynistic controlling bullshit.

  68. tmc
    June 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    And for the record, with my first pregnancy I followed all the rules to a paranoid little T and miscarried anyway.

    For the second pregnancy, I said fuck it. I drank caffeine, I sometimes ate lunch meat and sushi, I even drank alcohol occasionally with friends (who never said a word to me about it). My second pregnancy was physically a breeze and was emotionally waaaaay more pleasant since I wasn’t stressing out so much about all of the damn rules. My girl turned out just fine.

  69. tmc
    June 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Ooo, and what about a pregnant woman who has sex and contracts an STD that harms the fetus? Does she have to prove that it was sex with a monogamous partner? Does there have to be a minimum amount of time that she has to be dating this partner before the sex is no longer considered “risky?” What if she has casual sex? What if she has multiple committed partners? What if she participates in a pregnant porn? What if she only did the porn so that she doesn’t have to ask for government assistance in the first place? Exactly at what point is a pregnant woman just too fucking stupid to make her own decisions such that she must be threatened with government sanction?

    There are so many ways these silly women can harm their fetuses, I just can’t even keep count!

  70. June 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    My second pregnancy was physically a breeze and was emotionally waaaaay more pleasant since I wasn’t stressing out so much about all of the damn rules. My girl turned out just fine.

    What sort of horrible mother isn’t a ball of stress, depression, tears and anxiety about doing everything perfectly right during the pregnancy? I mean, have we thought about where we’re going? First you have pregnant women doing what they want, and the next thing you know they’ll be enjoying parenthood too. Sheesh.

  71. Kierra
    June 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I once had a discussion with a coworker about pregnancy restrictions. Being from Europe, he was full of ideas about how “full of chemicals” anything available in America is. So he was quite happy to pontificate about how pregnant women should avoid non-organic food, brominated flour, painting rooms, along with all the usual things (because, after all, it’s only 9 months). He even e-mailed me some studies about how chlorinated tap water is bad for pregnant women and how they should also avoid bis-phenol A (you know like in bottled-water bottles). Though when I pointed out that he’d basically said that pregnant women couldn’t have water, he allowed that BPA was better than chlorine if one really had to choose.

  72. Bagelsan
    June 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I guess I’m sympathetic to the theory — women should not be judged for their choices during pregnancy as long as they aren’t like, mainlining heroin — but less sympathetic to the specifics, in that I don’t think alcohol should be or needs to be a staple of one’s existence or social life. If the only thing you have in common with your friends is alcohol? That’s sad. If people refuse to let you hang out with them ’cause you’ll be having a virgin orange juice instead of a tequila sunrise, then you have a shitty social circle.

    Pregnant women get judged for everything, and that’s wrong, but also people have to give up alcohol all the time, for all sorts of reasons. It’s not the end of the world. I used to like wine too! I still do! I’m just indefinitely barred from using alcohol, despite my enjoyment of it. That’s not policing, that’s life being unfair. Sometimes people don’t get every pleasure they want, and sometimes those people are pregnant.

  73. Echo Zen
    June 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    There are so many ways these silly women can harm their fetuses, I just can’t even keep count!

    You forgot to add “oxygen” to the list. No, I didn’t make that up.

  74. cherrybomb
    June 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Ohmygoodness. I didn’t drink while I was pregnant, I did work 38-hours a week at a shitty fast-food place until I couldn’t stand more than ten minutes without contractions (at 7 months), lifted boxes over my head(and was told that would wrap the umbilical cord around my baby’s neck), I was in the car my coworkers hotboxed one night, I cleaned the cat’s litterbox daily (and washed hands with dial soap), only remembered to take a pre-natal vitamin about once a week, and was vegan my whole pregnancy (only “gained” 15lbs– that’s with the baby still inside, “zomg, your baby will be underweight!!!”).

    I had a 8 lb, 11 oz baby at 42 weeks. He was alert and strong. I then co-slept with him for two years and nursed (occasionally after having sipped a little wine).
    My kid is fine. Healthy. Cute. Smart. Sweet. Bratty as Hell. How much is genetics, my habits, or his freaking astrological sign plays into that– God only knows. Some women drink their whole pregnancies and the babies are fine, some drink just a little and the babies have FAS.There are women who do everything “right” and have still born children, or babies who die of SIDS while in weather appropriate pjs in safe cribs with firm mattresses and no blankets/toys to suffocate on. There is no magical formula, we calculate our risks and make decisions accordingly, and we live with the results, good and bad (and neutral).

  75. June 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Alcohol isn’t medicine.

    Actually, sometimes it is. Legitimately prescribed by real doctors.

  76. Tomek Kulesza
    June 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    women should not be judged for their choices during pregnancy as long as they aren’t like, mainlining heroin

    Actually, heroin is way, way more healthy than alcohol. Basically, it has no adverse purely health effects (apart from the addiction and overdosing and all the lifestyle consequences which follow the usage, but those are incidental).

  77. je
    June 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    ‘Ironically, the woman who encouraged her to “drink in moderation” chose not to drink at all when she became pregnant a year later. ‘

    As an 7-month pregnant person, I am SICK of hearing everyone else’s opinions on whether I drink or not. I *chose* to wait until I was in my second trimester to begin indulging in the occasional glass of wine. In the time between when I got pregnant and when I started indulging, I heard soooo many comments about my choice NOT to drink, from the patronizingly subtle peer pressure – “you know, you are allowed to have a drink in moderation” – to the obnoxiously rude – “one drink’s not gonna make the baby [R-word]!”

    Ironically, when I started to drink, after I felt safe in my second trimester, nobody ever said a single word to me about my choice. I’m sure some strangers probably have given me the side out or talked about me behind my back, but nobody – friends, strangers, anyone – has commented to me about it.

    Then, a couple of weeks ago, my psychiatrist suggested that I cut out the drinking, partially, yes, because of the whole ‘we-don’t-know-how-much-is-safe’ thing, but also because alcohol is a depressant and I am depressed and seeking treatment for it. She gently suggested that alcohol may not be helping, and you know what? I agree with her. So I decided to stop again. Cue the comments again. And now my tongue hurts from biting it so hard to keep from telling everyone around me to back off my choices, ffs.

    TL;DR – if you have an opinion about a pregnant woman’s choice to drink/smoke/whatever or her choice NOT to drink/smoke/whatever, keep it to yourself. Thanks!

  78. Alara Rogers
    June 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I don’t believe in judging pregnant women for what they do to their bodies. It’s *their bodies*, and if they do in fact fuck up their kid, the burden of guilt they’ll be living with is far, far greater than anything society can do to them.

    But I gotta say I don’t understand how not drinking can destroy your social life. I’m a teetotaller with a husband who’s a heavy social drinker. If we go out together to a place where he and his friends are drinking, I get Coke or ginger ale. Seriously, how is it your friends’ business what’s in your drinking glass, and why doesn’t your group of friends already have the concept of the person who’s not drinking today because they’re the designated driver or because they’re taking cold medicine or because they’re too tired and a beer will make them pass out or whatever? If you cannot go hang out with your drinking friends and have a soda, then either your friends are judgemental asshats and you need better friends, or you’re a functional alcoholic using “I have to drink because my friends are drinking” as an excuse, or you and your friends regularly drink to sufficient impairment that if you were with them sober, they would be intolerable, but because you’re usually as drunk as they are you can stand their antics when they’re plastered.

    I think a pregnant woman has the right to a beer or a glass of wine if she wants one, but if a pregnant woman *wants* to abstain completely, I don’t see why the fact that her friends like to go out drinking together should present her with the choice between her social life and her decision to abstain. If they’re good friends, they’ll understand why she’s drinking a Sprite without treating her like an outsider for it, and if the purpose is good friendship, conversation and fun, and not “let’s get totally wasted”, then the fact that other people are having a beer or two should not prevent a totally sober person from enjoying time with them if they enjoy such time when they themselves have had a beer or two. There’s no such thing as a bar in the US that doesn’t serve ginger ale and Coke. Probably not anywhere worldwide, given the popularity of such sodas as a component of mixed drinks like rum and Coke.

    I just… maybe it’s because I was never in my life a drinker, and I’ve always had to learn to adapt to the habits of friends who drink, but… where is the idea that you must drink *alcohol* to hang out with friends who are drinking alcohol coming from? Bars do serve drinks that are non-alcoholic, because they’re components of alcoholic drinks. You can get orange juice, pineapple juice, ginger ale, Coke, and probably lots of other things. You can get flavored mixers and a maraschino cherry in ginger ale or seltzer water and it’s visually indistinguishable from the same drink with alcohol content. It’s not a legal or social requirement to consume *alcohol* just to sit at a table in a bar with your friends.

    If you want a drink because you want a drink, then fine by me; you’re pregnant, it’s stressful, you’re probably doing your baby more good by staying relaxed and happy than by teetotalling if you really, really hate going without your beer. But don’t use “my friends are drinking so I have to” as an excuse.

  79. Becky
    June 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    As far as “it’s not a big deal not to drink” – people have already said it, but it’s not just the drinking. If it was, I might have totally abstained. But these are the things I couldn’t do/chose not to do for the health of the fetus during pregnancy:
    – Drink more than one cup of coffee a day (and I have a serious love for coffee/coffee addiction)
    – Eat sushi (lunch staple for me)
    – Take hot baths/use the hot tub
    – Excercise or go for walks (this is fine for the fetus, but I lifted a heavy box while pregnant and strained my abdominal muscles so badly that I was in constant pain and could barely move).
    – Take Advil for the constant pain (Tylenol is much less effective for me, I did use heating pads just below my belly because I had to do something but I stressed the fuck out over whether my baby would get overheated from them.)
    – Use my TENS machine for the pain because the affects on a fetus are unknown.
    – Eat high fat foods (because I had a rare complication that may be exacerbated by high fat foods).
    Meanwhile I was exhausted, hormonal, in constant pain (not just my stomach – my back and hips were also killing me), not sleeping well because I was so uncomfortable, and working a very high stress job. So yes, I read the research and made the decision to have a (small) glass or two of wine a week and not stress over it. Because I was already so restricted and so stressed and so miserable that being able to do something that I enjoyed and that felt good and that made me feel like my old self was really important to me.

    Also – it’s not just 9 months. You’re not supposed to drink while you’re trying to get pregnant (assuming a planned pregnancy) and you’re not supposed to drink while breastfeeding – which you are supposed to do for at least a year, preferably two – so we’re talking about two years and potentially more here if you’re doing everything according to recommendations.

  80. boobie
    June 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I grew up 2 doors down from a family with 3 FAS boys. Of course, I didn’t know what was wrong with them, they were inside most of the time and went to a different school on the short bus. Really quite sad.

  81. shfree
    June 23, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    What so many pregnancy cops seem to forget is that for a perhaps a sizable number of women, alcohol could have played a role in conception. It likely did for me, and I drank like a fish, and smoked a pack a day until I found out I was pregnant. (Plus, HORROR OF HORRORS, I continued to smoke until I decided to continue the pregnancy, then finished my last pack to ritually quit smoking.) And given that the first trimester is the diciest point in terms of fetal development and that most fetuses that make it to the point where women are aware that they are pregnant come through okay, fetuses are pretty resilient to the crap the environment throws at them, save for the most extreme circumstances. If they were delicate hothouse orchids, the species wouldn’t survive.

  82. June 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    But people with drinking problems always think they’re drinking the “right” amount, don’t they?

    And somebody who’s miserable without drinking might spend nine months working on that a little bit. Because there won’t be time or energy later….

  83. Bloix
    June 23, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Alcohol metabolizes to a chemical called acetaldehide, which is highly toxic. In adults, acetaldehide is quickly broken down into no -toxic chemicals, but foetuses have undeveloped metabolic systems and cannot break acetaldehide down quickly. In adults, acetaldehide can’t cross the blood brain barrier but foetuses’ brains are not well protected and acetaldehide crosses freely. So when a pregnant woman drinks, she’s delivering a dose of a toxic chemical to her foetus that she herself is not exposed to.
    Maybe it won’t make any difference. Or maybe he child will be just a little bit slower, less coordinated, less intelligent, more prone to depression. There’s no way to know.

  84. June 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I drank occasionally while pregnant, and ate sushi with cooked fish, and had brie once or twice. Everything in moderation. My midwife fully supported me in making my own damn decisions. :)

  85. EG
    June 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Or maybe he child will be just a little bit slower, less coordinated, less intelligent, more prone to depression.

    Of course, this being the world, the kid could end up like that anyway from any number of things, so there’s that. I mean, I hit three out of four of those, and my mother had one glass of wine, which she promptly threw up, while she was pregnant with me.

    I think making the informed decision to risk harm to your fetus should revoke your claim to government assistance if that risk becomes reality.

    Really? If you decide to run a risk, then you get no help if things go badly? That’s a pretty brutal world you thing should exist. In the world I live in, people make lousy decisions for all kinds of reasons, and we don’t throw them or their kids to the wolves as a result. But that’ll show all those pregnant women who clean out the cat’s litter box. Because women who miscarry or have disabled children aren’t being punished enough.

    Do you really consider treatment for an addiction to be a punishment?

    I think that treatment that is compulsory and coerced rather than voluntarily chosen, and is unaccompanied by social welfare supports, is bound to fail, and is thus pointless. I also think that neither you nor echosixsix suggested offering any treatment. You and zie have suggested punishments.

    Further, if someone is actually physically addicted to a drug, quitting cold turkey can be incredibly stressful and harmful, so there are smokers who get pregnant and are told by their doctors to cut down to what they can handle, but not to quit, because the ensuing stress to their bodies would not be worth the gain. Again, these decisions are between a woman and her doctor; unless one of them calls you in and asks your opinion, you can keep it to yourself.

  86. DonnaL
    June 23, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Considering how many billions of women drank wine during pregnancy over the millennia before doctors started warning them not to, it’s remarkable how the human race ever even got to this point.

    I doubt my mother drank during pregnancy because I don’t think I saw her drink more than a total of two or three glasses of wine during the 20 years I knew her. And yet, look at all the congenital things “wrong” with me — lefthandedness, cryptorchidism, auto-immune disease, fine motor control issues, and transness, just off the top of my head. Not to mention a propensity towards depression, anxiety, etc.

    What the hell did you do, Mom? It was all your fault!

  87. White Rabbit
    June 23, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    I grew up in an Eastern European culture wherein many people will still respond with a puzzled look if you try to explain that smoking and/or drinking alcohol during pregnancy has been linked to health issues for the baby. Many of the adults I grew up around drank and smoked excessively (<— this being the key word here) during their pregnancies, and all of their babies were born healthy. I realize that's anecdotal, but I see these folks as a fair representation of the larger culture they inhabited. Drinking and/or smoking heavily is not something I would personally do if I ever decided to carry a baby, but exposure to that culture tempers my own tendency to be overly risk-averse, and also provides me with an interesting counterpoint to the pregnancy policing I'm now surrounded by as an adult in the U.S.

    Also:

    #32 Unree

    Know what’s dangerous for pregnant women? Men. Homicide is either the leading cause of death for pregnant women or the second-leading, depending on which study you read, and most of the killers are the women’s partners. The CDC estimates that 4-8% of pregnant women in the US are battered by their partners.

    Thank you for adding this to the discussion. (Sadly, my own mother was part of that 4-8%.) I’d genuinely love to see the pregnancy police-rs get all up in arms about this – the effort to end domestic violence can use all of the help it can get! Perhaps I’m too cynical, but I don’t expect that very many of these police-rs would actually, you know, DO anything upon learning this alarming fact.

  88. EG
    June 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Because women who miscarry or have disabled children aren’t being punished enough.

    I just looked over this and realized that it sounded like I was saying that disabled children were a punishment. Let me rephrase for less obnoxiousness and ablism and greater fidelity to my meaning: Because women who miscarry or have disabled children, and are then blamed for their miscarriages or their children’s difficulties, aren’t unhappy enough. I hope that makes my meaning clearer, and I apologize in advance if my maladroit phrasing hurt people.

  89. White Rabbit
    June 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Just to clarify my previous post: I am in no way advocating or supportive of the idea of excessive drinking and/or smoking during pregnancy. It just occurred to me that this isn’t clear.

    As others have pointed out, women have been drinking during pregnancy for ages, and we manged to survive as a species. I just thought I’d share my own experience with a culture that happens to apply very different expectations on its pregnant women.

  90. Marksman2010
    June 24, 2012 at 12:48 am

    I just had a kid, and boy, was I pissed off by the restrictions imposed on me by society.

    Society isn’t actually restricting your behavior, it’s just judging you based on your behavior. You know, pointing their fingers and rolling their eyes is what 99% people do best, especially in a country incapable of divorcing itself from The Church.

  91. robotile
    June 24, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Alara Rogers:

    But I gotta say I don’t understand how not drinking can destroy your social life. I’m a teetotaller with a husband who’s a heavy social drinker. If we go out together to a place where he and his friends are drinking, I get Coke or ginger ale. Seriously, how is it your friends’ business what’s in your drinking glass, and why doesn’t your group of friends already have the concept of the person who’s not drinking today because they’re the designated driver or because they’re taking cold medicine or because they’re too tired and a beer will make them pass out or whatever?

    It’s not that my friends were judgmental–they don’t care if I drank or not. It’s that the point of going to a bar is having an alcoholic beverage, and now you feel like you can never ever do that. It’s not “not drinking today”–it’s not drinking every single freaking time you go out. It’s like going to a dance club and not dancing, ever. Sure, maybe a few times you’re not in the mood and you sit one out, but if you felt like you could never dance? That’s kind of the point of going to a dance club. So after a while, going to a bar just isn’t fun if you’re never going to drink, and a group of 10 or 15 people with a well-established social pattern is not going to switch to playing board games or something just to accomodate the one preggo in the group. That doesn’t make me a problem drinker, or my friends douchebags.

    And it’s not easy to change patterns, so going to a place where you habitually drink and not drinking is just a painful reminder of how much your life is going to change. Remember, pregnant women are already dealing with the imminent constriction of their lives, so even things that wouldn’t be a big deal divorced from context becomes much more significant when viewed from that lens.

  92. Schwa
    June 24, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Not sure if this was mentioned, but in most studies I’ve read the incidence of Listeriosis during pregnancy at a single hospital in a developed country is about three cases per year. It’s slightly lower at my hospital (a large, academic tertiary care center), and we deliver about 4,500 babies per year. I’m not super familiar with the epidemiology of Listeriosis and cheese (though there is certainly a link), but even quadrupling or quintupling your risk isn’t a huge amount in absolute terms. Basically, I’d certainly stay away from large amounts of camembert, but it’s not like soft cheese == INSTANT FETAL DEMISE.

    That said, Listeriosis in pregnancy is super bad; most women end up okay but like 1/3rd of affected pregnancies end in miscarriage, and like another 1/3 have permanent sequelae for the fetus.

  93. BabyRaptor
    June 24, 2012 at 3:34 am

    When I was pregnant with my son, my doctor actually suggested a glass of wine once or twice a week. I remember this specifically because I was only 19 at the time, so it had to be bought and given to me by my grandparents to be legal, and my grandmother didn’t believe me when I told her the doctor suggested it.

  94. Taylor
    June 24, 2012 at 4:49 am

    “Society isn’t actually restricting your behavior, it’s just judging you based on your behavior.”

    The groupthink in this thread is incredible. Judgment in itself isn’t necessarily wrong. We all do it, constantly. It’s whether those judgments are accurate and just that matter. A lot of women in this thread come across as children screaming “no one tells me what to do.” To which I say, grow up. Just because you’re a mom doesn’t make you entitled to a criticism-free life. If you think the judgments are wrong, state your case using currently available science. But don’t claim it’s unfair for people to judge or that women’s decisions should never be criticized. Some of you sound like child beaters when you claim that everyone should mind their business and stop “policing” (i.e. having an opinion different from your own) your behavior. Also, I disagree with the idea that womens parenting skills are always being unfairly judged. I live in a lower class area and my experience is just the opposite. Terrible parenting practices flourish and NO ONE is called out on it.

  95. EG
    June 24, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Yes, yes, it’s so childish of women not to want to be harassed by total strangers about their eating/drinking habits when they’re pregnant. I mean, who do those women think they are, walking around, putting things in their bodies just as if they have a right to.

    It’s fascinating to me how many strangers are perfectly women to give a pregnant woman who wants a cup of coffee or a chocolate bar trouble, and how all those strangers seem to disappear the minute an actual, existing child needs help.

  96. Millie
    June 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy – not through anything I did/didn’t do (it was actually a “chemical pregnancy,” meaning it happened around the time my period should have been due–it was just chance that I was feeling “off” enough to even test for pregnancy before I missed a period). But that was painful enough that when I got pregnant again, I was terrified of miscarrying, so I did *everything* by the book–and yes, I was miserable. My husband, bless him, gave up wine for 9 months in solidarity (not beer or hard liquor, but wine’s always been my drink of choice), but even so, like others have said, it was incredibly stressful to constantly monitor everything I was putting in my body. Even having had an early miscarriage that was in no way my fault, I couldn’t get past the idea that if I had another, it WOULD be my fault.

    In any event, my daughter is 5 months old, healthy, and breastfeeding–and now I do have a glass of wine 2-3 times a week. And you should see the looks I get for it! Everyone assumes–even if I’m not actually nursing her at the time–that the simple fact of being a woman with an infant means I wouldn’t even dream of ordering a drink to go with dinner (servers in restaurants frequently don’t even ask if I want something, even when they’ve asked everyone else at the table–or they do it with a raised eyebrow). It’s frustrating, even though I don’t believe I’m doing anything wrong–my daughter is fine, I don’t drink to excess, and there have been no issues with milk supply/letdown/her not liking the taste of my milk on the days that I have had a glass, as several people helpfully have suggested there might be.

  97. Azalea
    June 24, 2012 at 10:22 am

    @WhiteRabbit I just read an article saying howhigh the incidence of FAS is in Eastern European countries.

  98. Flip a Coin, eh?
    June 24, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Science doesn’t know exactly how many cigarettes you can smoke without getting cancer. In fact, sometimes people get lung cancer without ever smoking. That doesn’t mean it’s a good health decision to begin smoking.

    Look, I’m a lefty through and through. You all want to push the limits and determine just how much alcohol a fetus can take before having its life destroyed, knock yourselves out. I’ll still support and advocate for universal health care and school systems able to provide for their special needs.

    Whether or not it’s prudent to risk a lifetime of suffering for a child because you need to get a little jingle going to make it through your day is another matter.

    I will also point out that in my line of work I deal very regularly with children removed from the homes of parents who beat them. Though the merits of the argument may be different, I can assure you that every parent who has bruised, battered, and beaten their child informs me that it is none of my business how they raise their kids. I tend to think it is and am generally unmoved by people asserting their right to cause great harm to an innocent in their care and custody.

    The question here is whether harm is being caused by “moderate” drinking–maybe, maybe not, the science is inconclusive. If and when, however, more is known and it turns out that “moderate” drinking is highly likely to deform a child, then it will be society’s place to step in. Science isn’t stagnant. Surely on some level people must realize that five years from now they may know exactly how it works, and I can only imagine how it would feel to flaunt current warnings only to learn that you were really, really wrong. The stakes are pretty high.

  99. Bagelsan
    June 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

    What the hell did you do, Mom? It was all your fault!

    She should have been doing shots all along! *JUDGES HER* ;D

  100. White Rabbit
    June 24, 2012 at 11:28 am

    @Azalea

    I believe that. Again, I wasn’t defending or advocating those practices, just sharing an observation. Do you happen to have a link to the article, or recall where you saw it?

  101. Bagelsan
    June 24, 2012 at 11:31 am

    This isn’t a hugely informative article, but it seems to state the issue pretty even-handedly: http://www.boston.com/dailydose/2012/06/22/really-safe-drink-during-pregnancy-not-exactly-experts-say/HVqyZP9w2lHchFhuGh6bVM/story.html

    It clarifies the whole threshold question, too; having 5 drinks spaced over several weeks is gonna have a different effect than one-time having five drinks in a day will.

  102. Bagelsan
    June 24, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Personally, if pregnant, I would probably do like I do with my medication now, and have the odd sip of wine every month or so and mostly stick to decaf coffee. It’s not my total favorite preference (I like the finer things in life, too, Jill!) but it’s a happy* medium.

    I think it’s possible for people to cut themselves some slack and also make risk-reduction changes that improve their health, like drinking less often when on medication or when down with a case of the preggers. :p

    *literally happy, as in “not depressed and anxious”

  103. chava
    June 24, 2012 at 11:44 am

    FWIW, this is rapidly not becoming a matter of “oh, those childish preggos, they just can’t take a little judgement, BFD!” Fetal homicide laws are real, scary, and have been used to prosecute hundreds of women already in states like South Carolina.

    It’s a fairly direct line from using these laws to prosecture pregnant drug users or, in one awful case, a woman who tried to committ suicide, and women using alcohol/eating rare meat/whatever.

  104. chava
    June 24, 2012 at 11:51 am

    That depends on what you drink and how your body and fetus reacts to alcohol. I had a week of bar hoping and parties filled with very strong drinks a week before finding out I was pregnant. I was lucky my child is ok. The 5 months pregnant woman who had a grand total 2 drinks during that week has a child with FAS. I know because she actually lived and worked with me that unless she was sneaking liquer in the bathroom she only had those two before going into labor two and a half months later and delivering a baby with FAS. Two shots of whiskey at 5 months, two shots of rum at 3 months and a couple glasses of wine the day she went into labor.

    I’m so sorry for your friend. That said, it IS a vanishingly small risk. Hard alcohol is riskier because it metabolizes faster, but regardless–what happened to your friend is so rare it doesn’t really generalize out to “well it might be fine but SOME women can’t.” I would bet that most women have a few drinks in the period before discovering they are pregnant; vanishingly few of those babies have FAS.

  105. Bagelsan
    June 24, 2012 at 11:59 am

    It’s a fairly direct line from using these laws to prosecture pregnant drug users or, in one awful case, a woman who tried to committ suicide, and women using alcohol/eating rare meat/whatever.

    Well, it’s also a direct line from child abuse laws to all that nonsense too, clearly. I dunno, slippery slope arguments never convince me much.

  106. Unree
    June 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    The 5 months pregnant woman who had a grand total 2 drinks during that week has a child with FAS. I know because she actually lived and worked with me that unless she was sneaking liquer in the bathroom she only had those two before going into labor two and a half months later and delivering a baby with FAS. Two shots of whiskey at 5 months, two shots of rum at 3 months and a couple glasses of wine the day she went into labor.

    This story isn’t being told very coherently and it’s hard to follow … but Azalea, if you are saying that six drinks over an entire pregnancy–consumed two at a time in well-spaced intervals–caused fetal alcohol syndrome, you’re just flat-out wrong.

  107. chava
    June 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Well, it’s also a direct line from child abuse laws to all that nonsense too, clearly. I dunno, slippery slope arguments never convince me much.

    Except child abuse laws are in essence reasonable, and using fetal homicide laws to convict women for their own miscarriages is not? So your starting point is a bit different, there.

    RE: slippery slope. These laws were supposedly enacted to protect pregnant women/their fetuses from violent crime. Years later, it sure ain’t being used that way.

  108. pillowinhell
    June 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    The person who wants to punish mothers of cildren with FAS, why not just make alcohol illegal. For women of childbearing years? Maybe we could have some special paper for those women who get hysterectomies, ya know? Because last I checked its not like the skin above our uterus starts flashing a green light to announce a pregnancy. And guess what? It means that some fertile and pregnant woman may be out drinking at parties, weddings, in the privacy of her own home, on a date, at the staff party, on lunch with clients….

    So yeah, we haven’t convinced women to stop drinking by telling them they deserve to be raped when they do, and women are too fucking stupid to know the exact moment of conception, just make it illegal to sell alcohol, cigarettes, hair dye, any over the counter medication, raw vegetables, raw meats, household cleaners, pets that reqiure cleaning up after oh and the boyfriend or husband who may harm her.

    While we’re at it, let’s start prosecuting women for birth defects and miscarriages! Oh. Wait…/endsnark

  109. Alexandra
    June 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I dunno, I’m with Bagelsan on this. I’m another “depressed and anxious” person who avoids alcohol for a variety of reasons; I don’t think I’ve had a beer since December. It sucks sometimes, but most of the time it doesn’t matter. I don’t go out for beer any longer, but I do go out for coffee or tea, places which are better for conversation with friends and acquaintances anyway.

    I don’t think pregnant or — what was it the CDC called us back in 2006? pre-pregnant? — women should be prevented from buying or consuming alcohol. I do think that more research (though obviously it will have to be of the naturalistic variety) into drinking during pregnancy should be done. I think people in general should be less quick to judge expecting mothers for their behavior.

    But child-rearing and child-bearing is full of difficult ethical decisions, and not drinking is one of the least onerous of those decisions, frankly — far less so than deciding how to arrange childcare between two working parents, or what kind of schooling to give a child. It’s true, pregnant women have nine months of being essentially solely responsible for the child, but life is full of unfairness, and the unfairness of being born with physical and developmental birth defects is far worse.

  110. pillowinhell
    June 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Donna L, if being left handed is a congenital defect someone in the field of science really needs to study my family, which in the last six generations has produced a whopping four right handers. And there’s nothing wrong health wise with any of my family members that can’t be explained with environmental factors.

    So you know, the world can kiss my leftie butt!

  111. DonnaL
    June 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Pillowinhell, you may not have noticed that I put the word “wrong” in quotes. I don’t actually believe that I’m congenitally defective because I’m lefthanded, any more than I believe that’s the case because I’m trans!

  112. Azalea
    June 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Unree , this woman LIVED with me during her pregnancy and worked with me. She was not an alcoholic and her child was diagnosed with FAS. She had about 4-8 shots of hard liquer (70-100 proof alcohol ) over her entire pregnancy. many adults can not handle 100 proof and she drank some while pregnant. Her child is never expected to live an independant life so she’ll be caretaker till she dies.The threshold is different for different pregnancies but the FAS inflicted on her child was preventable through total sobriety. The woman who encouraged her to drink and “live a little” avoided EVERYTHING her doctor gave her warnings about and gave her cat to a mutual friend for the duration.of her pregnancy.

  113. Nicole
    June 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I think it is really sad that people think it is okay to drink while pregnant. It has been proven time and time again by reputable medical professionals that no known amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. Infants born to mothers who abused cocaine and heroine have much better outcomes than those born with FAS. Fetal alcohol syndrome is devastating. Imagine having to deal with a child who has a lower IQ, facial deformities, cognitive problems, and worse. Imagine growing up with these problems because your mother couldn’t bear to quit drinking for 9 months? I am not cool with policing women’s behavior, but it makes me angry that there is a misconception that it is okay to drink in moderation while pregnant. Women need to be made well informed of what FAS is and how it occurs.

  114. June 24, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    “It has been proven time and time again by reputable medical professionals that no known amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. ”

    This is wrong (and, furthermore, asserts proof of the unprovable). Rather, many many many studies on alcohol exposure in pregnancy have consistently failed to show adverse effects from spaced light drinking in pregnancy.

    Definitions are important here. When you see studies purporting to show adverse effects from so-called “moderate drinking” in pregnancy, what you’re seeing is adverse effects from pregnant people drinking amounts like an averaged 2 standard drinks per day – far, far more than anyone I know drank while pregnant – and that’s averaged; many of these studies fail to separate binge drinking from spaced drinking, which is a fatal flaw in this sort of work.

    For the most up-to-date research, read this:

    “The effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption and binge drinking in early pregnancy on executive function in 5-year-old children”, Skogerbø et al, BJOG doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03397.x

    And for extra interest, read this:

    “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Origins Of A Moral Panic”, Armstrong and Abel, Alcohol and Alcoholism, 35:3, Pp. 276-282

    FAS is strongly associated with alcoholism, poverty, malnutrition, mental health issues, and domestic abuse. But what we have in Western Australia, instead of a serious effort to address income inequality/isolation/disenfranchisement/abuse/mental health problems, is a new saturation media campaign showing a Concerned Nice White Married Couple telling their doctor they’re worried about whether a single drink might cause damage to their precious fetus, and the doctor knitting her brows, looking similarly Concerned, and saying that she recommends absolutely no alcohol.

    This is non-evidence based, makes absolutely no sense, and is a complete waste of money.

  115. Katerina
    June 25, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Great, a bunch of accounts of ‘I drank and nothing happened’ or ‘I didn’t drink and stuff happened’ anecdotes. Perfect Solution Fallacy, people. Just because it’s not possible to eliminate every risk and guarantee a healthy baby doesn’t mean it’s in any way reasonable to consciously increase that risk, especially if you’re not well-versed on the scientific/medical background of it, as with most people who aren’t doctors, as evidenced by comments like this:

    “DonnaL
    Considering how many billions of women drank wine during pregnancy over the millennia before doctors started warning them not to, it’s remarkable how the human race ever even got to this point. ”

    This does not signify that there’s nothing bad about alcohol. You may be aware that something like 8 of 10 children died during all those millennia, and that’s of those children who were actually born, carried to completion. (Even now, about 75% of pregnancies end during the first few weeks, before the mother is even aware, simply because of the lethality of most mutations and the vulnerability of the zygote to environmental factors in that time.)

    In the case of wine, it happens that drinking mildly alcoholic drink was the best available way of disinfecting your drinking water before actual sanitation was invented, so it tended to average out as beneficial when compared to drinking untreated, potentially contaminated water.

    Also, concerning cats: It’s a bacterium called taxoplasmosis that you’re likely to get infected with during contact with cats. For adults, it seems to have no effect (other than an inferred link to schizophrenia). If you’re pregnant and are exposed to it for the first time, it can be bad for the baby. In other words, if you want to be on the safer side, avoid cats if you’re not *already* a cat person from before you were pregnant, otherwise don’t worry. (It shouldn’t be a problem either way if you do basic hygiene like washing your hands after petting animals, in any case.)

    Look, I get what you guys are saying, but it frankly boggles me that you’re advocating for your own autonomy, and taking away someone else’s autonomy in the same breath. Namely, the unborn child who never agreed to prenatal poisoning. I’m not asking you to be concerned with the fate of a potential human being over an actual one, abortion-debate style, this isn’t the situation here. This isn’t ‘potential’, this is a human being you *plan* to bring into the world, and whose future life you’re likely to adversely affect because you couldn’t be bothered to change your habits for a while. It’s your baby. Don’t you feel, I dunno, protective of it, even before it’s born? I mean, *everything* about this one single, future human being is somehow shaped by what you do before and after the pregnancy, don’t you think trying to get it right is basic decency?

    I don’t think pregnant women should be paranoid wrecks about every little thing that could harm the fetus but that doesn’t mean you should cry ‘Oh, but I should be able to do anything I want without judgement or criticism!’. If you prioritise fleeting gratification over another human being’s health and well-being, whether as a future mother or in any other situation, you’re being selfish. If I see you, as a mother, drinking heavily while pregnant, or chain-smoking within three feet of your toddler baby, I’m going to think you’re a horrible person and a bad mother in at least one respect, and nothing is going to change that – whatever YOUR personal rights are, the baby never asked for this.

  116. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 5:21 am

    This is wrong (and, furthermore, asserts proof of the unprovable). Rather, many many many studies on alcohol exposure in pregnancy have consistently failed to show adverse effects from spaced light drinking in pregnancy.

    QFT. For the sake of all that’s good and holy, people, do you have ANY idea of the burden of proof society imposes on “things safe for pregnant women”? Whoops, I took showers while pregnant. Showers have not been conclusively proven not to cause harm! Better to be safe and avoid them!

    It reminds me of the autism/vaccines debacle, where the anti-vaxers insist that the scientific community must completely prove a negative hypothesis. Which is, of course, impossible. Nothing is 100% safe, ok? Life has some elements of risk to it.

  117. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 5:31 am

    I dunno, I’m with Bagelsan on this. I’m another “depressed and anxious” person who avoids alcohol for a variety of reasons; I don’t think I’ve had a beer since December. It sucks sometimes, but most of the time it doesn’t matter. I don’t go out for beer any longer, but I do go out for coffee or tea, places which are better for conversation with friends and acquaintances anyway.

    Bully for you. Are you simultaneously being told that a multitude of your other life habits, and indeed just existing in the world, is suddenly unsafe? Do you go out to restaurants and obsess over what you can and can’t eat because ZOMG you might KILL YOUR BABY? And are the majority of these restrictions not at all based in scientific evidence, or, if they are, based on a tiny risk? Yet, the news media keeps scaring the pants off you by announcing a new “unsafe” food/drink/lifestyle each day?

    This is not pregnant women saying “oh, poor us, it’s so SAD for us that we can’t drink! Not drinking is SO HARD!” It’s about a culture of ever-increasing, non-evidence based restrictions and Puritanism around pregnant bodies. It’s about putting the onus for a “100% SAFE!” pregnancy on women so we can both police female bodies and avoid any societal responsibility to help them. That women KILLED HER BABY, natch, we have no responsibility to help her! Make her pay back all the money we spend to help her defective spawn!

  118. Wirbelwind
    June 25, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Drink as much as you want, you reap what you sow.
    Doctors warn you about FAS, but it’s always up to you.
    Just don’t blame anybody else if you give birth to a deformed baby with FAS.
    Also, I believe that parents should give up alcohol. Children have a right to grow up with sober parents.

  119. Katerina
    June 25, 2012 at 6:24 am

    I dunno, I could’ve sworn the discussion started off as one on drinking specifically, as opposed to the general pressure on woman to be absolutely perfect mothers because they fail as human beings otherwise.

    I don’t think anyone disagrees (correct me if I’m wrong?) that people criminalising women’s behaviour and offering condescending and unsolicited advice/demands is not the way to go, neither ethically nor from a practical perspective.

    I just think people are kind of forgetting the baby in this.

  120. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 7:20 am

    It did start out about the safety of drinking in moderation, during pregnancy. But I don’t think it is JUST about drinking because when multiple people are putting forth arguments like “but giving up booze isn’t so hard! woman up!” and “you are an alcoholic if giving it up stresses you out” or “if you do this to your baby you should pay” and “we can’t prove it ISN’T harmful, so stay away!” then yes, I think it ties in to the general narrative around pregnancy.

    I just think people are kind of forgetting the baby in this.

    Oh, you do? Why, because we’re centering a woman’s experience over her fetus in this thread? Because a woman shouldn’t take a reasonable, small risk because THINK OF THE CHILDREN? Or because you think pregnant people don’t worry about this, that they “forget” about this sort of thing anyway?

    That last one might be what pisses me off the most. You think I’m forgetting my baby? Fuck off. I gave a lot of thought to what I would and would not do during pregnancy, including drink, and made a decision based off the available evidence.

  121. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 7:23 am

    You think I’m forgetting my baby? Fuck off. I gave a lot of thought to what I would and would not do during pregnancy, including drink, and made a decision based off the available evidence.

    To be clear, while this does apply to me specifically, I mean it in a more general sense. We go on and on about “trust women” when it comes to abortion–can we extend a little of the same when it comes to fetuses being carried to term?

  122. EG
    June 25, 2012 at 7:41 am

    I just think people are kind of forgetting the baby in this.

    Evidence? Examples?

  123. EG
    June 25, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Also, I believe that parents should give up alcohol. Children have a right to grow up with sober parents.

    Because children will inevitably be traumatized by the sight of their parents having a couple glasses of wine with dinner? Or a beer or two after work? Goodness, I had no idea how dreadfully upsetting my childhood was, what with witnessing my parents consuming alcohol and sometimes, it’s true, every once in a while, being tipsy.

  124. tmc
    June 25, 2012 at 9:54 am

    If I see you, as a mother, drinking heavily while pregnant, or chain-smoking within three feet of your toddler baby

    Was anyone here advocating either of these things? I don’t remember seeing any such posts.

    I just think people are kind of forgetting the baby in this.

    I really can’t decide if I should be amused or disgusted by this. I think I’m kind of both. I guess I am…amgusted? Dismused?

    Someone brought up eating undercooked meat earlier. I totally forgot, I did that too. I ate medium steaks while pregnant (in addition to the occasional raw or rare tuna). I ate medium-rare steaks throughout breastfeeding and my (recently weaned) not-quite-3-year-old eats off of my plate and my husband’s plate whenever we go out, so all the steak she’s ever eaten has either been medium (his) or medium-rare (mine). She also eats raw tuna whenever we have it, although we don’t give her much because it’s just SOOO GOOOD (but so expensive) and I don’t want to share any more than I have to!

    I started off angry, but now I really fucking want a steak and some tuna sashimi.

  125. tmc
    June 25, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Because children will inevitably be traumatized by the sight of their parents having a couple glasses of wine with dinner?

    I once drank a Woodchuck (hard apple cider) while spending time with my daughter at a friend’s house. We all watched some hilariously bad TV, ate homemade brownies and ice cream, and my daughter snuggled next to me and we all had a good time.

    True story. I wonder how much her therapy is going to cost someday.

  126. tmc
    June 25, 2012 at 10:00 am

    What sort of horrible mother isn’t a ball of stress, depression, tears and anxiety about doing everything perfectly right during the pregnancy? I mean, have we thought about where we’re going? First you have pregnant women doing what they want, and the next thing you know they’ll be enjoying parenthood too. Sheesh.

    The NERVE, I tell you!

  127. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Katerina–

    I mean, *everything* about this one single, future human being is somehow shaped by what you do before and after the pregnancy, don’t you think trying to get it right is basic decency?

    Sigh. No, no it is not. I know that this is the new fad in scaring/shaming pregnant women–claim that everything! you! do! will affect your child for years to come, but the actual studies behind these claims are a) hypothesis generating anyway and b) tied into some seriously problematic shit c) rooted in the idea that if we are PERFECT upper middle class parents, we can somehow maximize the tail end of the bell curve such that our offspring will be creatures of stunning genius.

    It just ain’t so.

  128. tmc
    June 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

    No one has answered my question about pregnant people and sex. Are pregnant people who have sex with anyone during their pregnancy other than the person who impregnated them selfish, uncaring, slutty-slut-sluts?

    How about during breastfeeding? Inquiring minds want to know.

  129. EG
    June 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

    don’t you think trying to get it right is basic decency?

    And you know, if you come to a decision about what “getting it right” means that is different from Katerina’s, you LACK BASIC DECENCY and ARE NOT EVEN TRYING.

  130. EG
    June 25, 2012 at 10:18 am

    the idea that if we are PERFECT upper middle class parents, we can somehow maximize the tail end of the bell curve such that our offspring will be creatures of stunning genius.

    And it’s tied into the idea that the world is fundamentally just and under our control–if we just Do Everything Right, then Nothing Bad Will Happen. And that’s bullshit. The world is not just, bad things happen all the time, and very little is under our control.

  131. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Just don’t blame anybody else if you give birth to a deformed baby with FAS.
    Also, I believe that parents should give up alcohol. Children have a right to grow up with sober parents.

    “Deformed”? Srsly?

    Also, I happen to have an alcoholic parent, and I STILL think you’re full of shit.

  132. June 25, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Also, I believe that parents should give up alcohol. Children have a right to grow up with sober parents.

    Yup, because every parent who drinks is getting falling-down, belligerently and abusively drunk every single time.

    I once saw my mother drunk when I was a kid. It fucking scarred me for life and I have had nightmares ever since. She was slurring her words and everything.

    Oh wait, no. scratch that. I laughed and rolled my eyes at her. And life went on.

    I think people who drink have a responsibility to model responsible drinking (you know, if they choose to drink at all) for their kids – meaning that hey, it’s not a good idea to get sloppy falling-down drunk around your kids, or try to drive if you’ve had a couple and so forth.

    But I think kids should see that it’s fine to have a glass of wine or two and be responsible about it.. and yeah, even see a few of the ill side effects (I’m talking mild hangovers, here) from time to time so they know that if they overdo it when they get to that age, there are consequences.

    Just saying ‘Don’t Drink’ is about the same as saying ‘Don’t have sex’. Some people are going to do it regardless. Best to be safe.

    But yeah, sorry. Huge Derail.

    As you were.

  133. June 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

    It’s my understanding that in the very early weeks of pregnancy, before the placenta forms, the fetus is not directly connected to the mother’s bloodstream, and that is why it is usually not a problem if the mother drinks before she knows she’s pregnant (unless she doesn’t discover that she’s pregnant until she’s already several weeks along, which is fairly common).

    But a quick Googling about that doesn’t seem to be conclusive…does anyone know?

    Personally, the most ridiculous thing I was told when I was pregnant was that I should never allow myself to get angry because “negative emotions affect the baby.” I could live without alcohol or caffeine…but nine months of never having a “negative emotion”? When my hormones were seriously messing with me? Impossible!

  134. EG
    June 25, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Personally, the most ridiculous thing I was told when I was pregnant was that I should never allow myself to get angry because “negative emotions affect the baby.”

    I’ve heard that! Because what pregnant women need is meta-stress–not only will they be stressed out and anxious, but they can then be stressed out and anxious about being stressed out and anxious! Hurray!

  135. Katerina
    June 25, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Evidence? Examples?

    This has been discussed as an issue of the woman’s rights and the infringing whereupon. I haven’t really seen people argue about how it might be unethical to gamble with the health and happiness of your future child just so that you have it a little comfier during pregnancy.

  136. Katerina
    June 25, 2012 at 11:06 am

    And you know, if you come to a decision about what “getting it right” means that is different from Katerina’s, you LACK BASIC DECENCY and ARE NOT EVEN TRYING.

    Let’s not descend into hyperbole. I understand different parents may have different ideas of what ‘getting it right’ entails – it’s still a very different attitude than ‘Meh, I’ll just keep drinking because I don’t want my behaviour to be controlled like that and because it SHOULD be okay (which I know mostly based on hearsay and personal anecdotes).

  137. Katerina
    June 25, 2012 at 11:13 am

    The world is not just, bad things happen all the time, and very little is under our control.

    Still sounds like the Perfect Solution Fallacy to me, to be honest. I don’t live in the USA and have had very little media exposure to the kind of pressure on expecting mothers you guys are talking about, so I think you’re automatically seeing this in the context of the bigger battle that’s been surrounding, i.e. the whole ‘be a perfect parent and you’ll have a perfect child and everything will be perfect’ brainwashing.

    I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a situation that is, in this one case, rather uncomplicated. Alcohol consumption, unless it’s in very moderate amounts, isn’t good for you. It sure as hell isn’t good for the baby. Drinking alcohol while pregnant has a chance of doing nothing at best, damaging the baby at worst. Why take that risk if you can avoid it by abstaining from that particular luxury for a while?

  138. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I haven’t really seen people argue about how it might be unethical to gamble with the health and happiness of your future child just so that you have it a little comfier during pregnancy.

    Yes. When I ate soft cheese, rare meat, and drank the occasional glass of wine, I TOTALLY did it to gamble with the future health of my baby (currently napping, fwiw). There was NO WAY I made a reasoned, carefully calculated decision.

    It is unreasonable to ask women to live a risk-free life while pregnant. Not only is it unreasonable, it is impossible. And “a little comfier?” Please. It is not unethical to balance your needs with the needs of the fetus and decide that in certain situations, your needs come out on top.

    Women draw these lines at different places. I drank 1-2 drinks a week, I ate raw milk cheese, sushi, and rare meat from time to time, etc. Yet I chose to have an IV during labor because I tested positive for group B strep. A lot of thought went into all those decisions. And trust me, honey, that IV? Not having it would have made me a whole lot more than “a little comfier.”

  139. Kierra
    June 25, 2012 at 11:19 am

    The thing that I think needs to be emphasized is that time, money, and (most importantly) willpower are finite resources. So while it might be nice if every pregnant woman avoided alcohol, cigarettes, fish, imported cheese, deli meat, pesticides, OTC medications, cat poop, household cleaners, stress, etc, as well as eating a totally balanced diet with no junk food, exercising the perfect amount, gaining the exact recommended amount of weight, etc, for the vast majority of people SOMETHING IS GOING TO GIVE.

  140. benvolio
    June 25, 2012 at 11:32 am

    The answer to all this ‘what’s safe or not during pregnancy’ is More Science. More Feminism will help here, seeing as ‘man’ seems to be the default in most biomedical research, but not knowing the answers is the culprit, and should be vanquished.

    Anecdotally, I take a number of meds for a couple of chronic conditions. Not one of them has been studied for effects on fetal development. Not one. That just sucks. Taking the ‘better safe than sorry’ route is therefore impossible, because I have no way to know what is ‘safe.’ No amount of scolding will help. Only More Science.

    Which is also to say that when More Science is done that we should ignore it if it doesn’t conform to our previous biases, but we seem to do that a lot.

  141. Datdamwuf
    June 25, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Is there any study of pregnant women who gave birth between 1960 and 1970? I’m curious to know how much they smoked and/or drank and the outcome of their pregnancies. I was born in 1960 and I know for a fact my mother smoked and drank regularly. And by that I mean what was considered “normal” for those days. After work you had a cocktail or two every day and likely more on any social occasion.

    I’d really like to see a study of that group. All I know is anecdotal, every one I’ve ever talked to about this (in my age group) says the same thing. Our mothers drank a lot by today’s standards and we all turned out OK. Same goes for caffeine and other foods – my mom drank iced tea all day long too. I’m just wondering if there has been any study wherein they have mapped the delta for those who abstain vs those who do not. There is still a large pool of older women they could do this with via survey.

    Too bad we can’t get data on this from waaaay back when beer was the morning drink of choice, before coffee took over….

  142. Ledasmom
    June 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I haven’t really seen people argue about how it might be unethical to gamble with the health and happiness of your future child just so that you have it a little comfier during pregnancy

    And if you must do this, go with Fetus-Health-and-Happiness Blackjack, because the odds on anything else are totally against you, especially since most casinos give you a pissy exchange rate on chips vs. fetal health and happiness. I mean, you would not believe the projected-happiness actuarial calculations at your average Vegas glitz palace. Also, the slot machines? Not a comfortable choice, that’s all I’ll say.

  143. Wirbelwind
    June 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Why children have a right to have non-drinking parents ?
    Because all too often people drinking “for fun” are starting to drink just because.
    Because if anything bad happens to your kid when you’re drunk you’re screwed- and so is your kid.
    It’s better to be safe than sorry.

  144. Donna L
    June 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    By that logic, the entire family should be required to sit around wearing snowsuits and football helmets, and never leave the house until the child is 21. Because I suspect that stepping outside the door carries greater risks than having an occasional glass of wine during pregnancy, never mind after a child is born.

  145. Katerina
    June 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Yes. When I ate soft cheese, rare meat, and drank the occasional glass of wine, I TOTALLY did it to gamble with the future health of my baby (currently napping, fwiw). There was NO WAY I made a reasoned, carefully calculated decision.

    Strawman alert! I have specifically said: I do NOT ask people to be paranoid wrecks during pregnancy. What’s with everyone consistently interpreting “Drinking during pregnancy is risky” as “CONSTANT VIGILANCE! for EVERYTHING!”.

    Drinking, smoking, eating undercooked meat or fish, or soft cheese, or not exercising enough, or lifting heavy weights, or walking outside where you might slip and fall, or petting cats – those things have *wildly* varying risk factors. *Of course* a compromise is necessary, but that compromise needs to acknowledge and prioritise the respective risks. (A thousand times ‘yes’ to the MORE SCIENCE thing above, btw.) Whereas some of what I’m seeing here sounds like “Gee, I can’t do every single thing perfectly, so why shouldn’t I drink?” or “Well, I’m doing SOME of these things on the list, might as well let go a little in others”. The latter isn’t necessarily a problem – *as long* as the different risk levels are taken into account.

    Otherwise it IS a gamble, even if that might sound too dramatic, because at the end of the day, you don’t know how the alcohol is going to affect your baby, and you have no objective way to legitimately say that your baby (or you, despite drinking parents) ‘turned out fine’. Abstaining from drink for a time is a very low-cost sacrifice (unless you’re addicted, but most people aren’t, I assume). If operating on the assumption that every parent wants the best for their child, again, I find it boggling that people are digging in their heels about something as trivial as drink.

  146. Bagelsan
    June 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    I can see where the “stop drinking” thing is coming from, though; it’s demonstrated to bring the risk of FAS from “none” to “some” when you have a drink, and it’s not a huge problem for most well-adjusted people to stop — not to mention it’s cheaper not to drink so hey, not classist either!

    I get that this is the point where some people are drawing their line in the sand in the pregnant culture wars, but I think it’s an unreasonable point. Die on the hill of some other habit, perhaps, one that isn’t scientifically proven to have adverse health effects for parent and fetus, and most of all one that isn’t so easy to discontinue (like leaving the house or owning a cat, for example; harder to stop doing than the occasional cocktail!)

  147. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    it’s demonstrated to bring the risk of FAS from “none” to “some” when you have a drink,

    yeah, no. not so much.

  148. Bagelsan
    June 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    And frankly, this “I choose my [parenting] choice” stuff is reminding me of the “I choose my choice” feminism — making a “bad” parenting decision doesn’t make you a bad parent, and being a parent shouldn’t protect you from having your choices evaluated anymore than being a woman does.

  149. Bagelsan
    June 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    yeah, no. not so much.

    Well, it’s pretty tough to get Fetal Alcohol Syndrome without any alcohol…

  150. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    that’s true, but there is no evidence showing that light drinking can cause fas. just the possibility that bc binge drinking/heavy drinking does, light drinking might. the logic, it is wrong.

    sorry for haiku w/no capitals, baby asleep on chest, only one hand.

  151. Bagelsan
    June 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Unless there is a universal threshold level of alcohol that all fetuses can tolerate, and we identify that threshold, drinking while pregnant is going to present some risk to the fetus. It may be a very low and hence acceptable risk, but it exists.

  152. Bagelsan
    June 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    sorry for haiku w/no capitals, baby asleep on chest, only one hand.

    We should call you e. e. chava. :D

  153. Partial Human
    June 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Bagelsan – alcohol may not be as necessary as we think. I mean we’ve seen the nonsense claim upthread that drinking on two nights caused FAS. I had a client with an “FAS” baby. The client was a thirteen year old without access to booze, because of her living situation*.

    Some research is suggesting that malnutrition, something very common in drinkers, and people of low SES, may play a large part in what we call FAS. Lack of the amino acid histidine can cause symptoms/features that look like those of FAS.

    *No “But you don’t know for sure” or “13 year olds are crafty” please. Her situation was such that there was zero access to alcohol. It was a terrible situation, made infinitely worse by the baby.

  154. EG
    June 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Because all too often people drinking “for fun” are starting to drink just because.
    Because if anything bad happens to your kid when you’re drunk you’re screwed- and so is your kid.

    That first statement is just not false. Many, many, many adults enjoy having a glass or two of wine or beer while unwinding.

    Are you under the impression that having a couple glasses of wine with dinner or a couple beers after work renders the average adult blotto? If so, I assure you that you are mistaken.

    I don’t live in the USA and have had very little media exposure to the kind of pressure on expecting mothers you guys are talking about, so I think you’re automatically seeing this in the context of the bigger battle that’s been surrounding

    So you’re not in the US and don’t know the pressures, and somehow you think not putting this issue in its cultural context is more appropriate? How does that work, exactly?

  155. EG
    June 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    That first statement is just not false.

    An extraneous “not,” there.

  156. Bagelsan
    June 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Partial Human chooses “anecdote”! It is not effective!

  157. chava
    June 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Unless there is a universal threshold level of alcohol that all fetuses can tolerate, and we identify that threshold, drinking while pregnant is going to present some risk to the fetus. It may be a very low and hence acceptable risk, but it exists.

    Eh. Given that we have some data indicating that light drinking is not at all harmful/perhaps helpful, and no data suggesting it is harmful, I feel pretty comfortable saying that light drinking will not sway the fate of the fetal population one way or another, on the balance.

  158. ahmm
    June 26, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Anyone who is unable to abstain from alcohol for a limited period of time for a compelling reason is an alcoholic. Period. Comparing alcohol to medicine and food only makes you sound worse. And the poster who is 7 months pregnant and depressed and is medicating with alcohol (!) is a perfect example of classism/racism at work. A poor POC sneaking hard liquor would be labelled an alcoholic (as they are). But a middle class literate therapy using (let’s be honest 99% likely) white woman gets sympathy.

    Also, no offense, but I’m struggling to reconcile the message of “trust women” and “oooh, all these complicated food restrictions are hurting my tiny female brain”. Isn’t this a touch disingenuous? Seriously, as a childfree woman, am I missing something? Is this a pregnancy brain thing? People keep portraying restrictions as THE MOST COMPLICATED THING IN THE WORLD, ADD ALCOHOL TO THAT LIST AND THE CAMEL’S BACK IS BROKEN. Really? No one here is vegetarian? Gluten free? Allergic to nuts? Are we able to walk and chew gum? Pay taxes? I mean, how hard is it to avoid soft cheese, liquor and running marathons? If you think the restrictions are wrong, fine. If you think it’s a war on women, fine. But let’s not denigrate the entire gender by trying to claim it’s just tooo hard. Too hard to remember all those oh so difficult medically thingamajigs the smart doctor man told us. *giggle*. Just sounds ridiculous.

  159. Katerina
    June 26, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Are you under the impression that having a couple glasses of wine with dinner or a couple beers after work renders the average adult blotto? If so, I assure you that you are mistaken.

    I’d like to quote Bloix from up above:

    In adults, acetaldehide can’t cross the blood brain barrier but foetuses’ brains are not well protected and acetaldehide crosses freely. So when a pregnant woman drinks, she’s delivering a dose of a toxic chemical to her foetus that she herself is not exposed to.

    At school, did you ever do the experiment where you drip alcohol as low as 80% on some raw egg white, and watch it denaturate and harden? That’s what happens when alcohol meets protein. Scaled down to the kind of concentration found in beer and wine and the like, the effect is much less intense, but the same in its general nature. Not a good thing to expose a developing fetus to.

    So you’re not in the US and don’t know the pressures, and somehow you think not putting this issue in its cultural context is more appropriate? How does that work, exactly?

    All I can do is offer a different perspective, of course. It makes perfect sense to put things in a cultural context, but women’s rights isn’t the only possible context out there. Preserving women’s autonomy is a priority, but a no less relevant one than preserving a future human’s right to the best their parent can (feasibly, to the best of their judgement and ability) offer them. Like I said above, I think the latter has been neglected in favour of the former – which, while important, is not the only thing that should be kept in mind. In other words, we should fight our battles for independence but we shouldn’t forget that pregnancy is about the baby, as well – that it’s a multi-party issue.

  160. ahmm
    June 26, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Comment seems to be in moderation so reposting:

    Anyone who is unable to abstain from alcohol for a limited period of time for a compelling reason is an alcoholic. Period. Comparing alcohol to medicine and food only makes you sound worse. And the poster who is 7 months pregnant and depressed and is medicating with alcohol (!) is a perfect example of classism/racism at work. A poor POC sneaking hard liquor would be labelled an alcoholic (as they are). But a middle class literate therapy using (let’s be honest 99% likely) white woman gets sympathy.

    Also, no offense, but I’m struggling to reconcile the message of “trust women” and “oooh, all these complicated food restrictions are hurting my tiny female brain”. Isn’t this a touch disingenuous? Seriously, as a childfree woman, am I missing something? Is this a pregnancy brain thing? People keep portraying restrictions as THE MOST COMPLICATED THING IN THE WORLD, ADD ALCOHOL TO THAT LIST AND THE CAMEL’S BACK IS BROKEN. Really? No one here is vegetarian? Gluten free? Allergic to nuts? Are we able to walk and chew gum? Pay taxes? I mean, how hard is it to avoid soft cheese, liquor and running marathons? If you think the restrictions are wrong, fine. If you think it’s a war on women, fine. But let’s not denigrate the entire gender by trying to claim it’s just tooo hard. Too hard to remember all those oh so difficult medically thingamajigs the smart doctor man told us. *giggle*. Just sounds ridiculous.

  161. Raja
    June 26, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Look, I get what you guys are saying, but it frankly boggles me that you’re advocating for your own autonomy, and taking away someone else’s autonomy in the same breath. Namely, the unborn child who never agreed to prenatal poisoning. I’m not asking you to be concerned with the fate of a potential human being over an actual one, abortion-debate style, this isn’t the situation here. This isn’t ‘potential’, this is a human being you *plan* to bring into the world, and whose future life you’re likely to adversely affect because you couldn’t be bothered to change your habits for a while. It’s your baby. Don’t you feel, I dunno, protective of it, even before it’s born? I mean, *everything* about this one single, future human being is somehow shaped by what you do before and after the pregnancy, don’t you think trying to get it right is basic decency?

    This. Maybe we should just let children drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes if thats the case but oh wait that’s definitely illegal I think even though the kid has more choice in the matter than the situation above. But seriously if you drink -heavily- while your pregnant just for your own indulgence and your child is fortunate to come out unscathed and when he or she does a lot of partying and drinking when they are older try to leave out that part when you show concern for your child’s habits because you will look like a world class hypocrite, hell they are least making the choice to do so by their own rather than having it shoved down their throats (figuratively speaking)

  162. Raja
    June 26, 2012 at 7:14 am

    And yes, it is your choice and you have a right to and can but there are a lot things people have a -right- to do which can and do have harmful consequences. Anyway think twice before you lecture someone on morality if that’s the case.

  163. June 26, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Partial Human chooses “anecdote”! It is not effective!

    Actually, anecdotes (otherwise known as case studies) can be extraordinarily effective when a single contrary case is all that is required to disprove a general statement.

    If the hypothesis is that all FASD is the product of alcohol use/abuse during pregnancy and there were a verified case of FASD in the absence of alcohol use/abuse during pregnancy, then that hypothesis would be pretty much tanked and would either need to be refined with further contingencies or thrown out altogether.

    Science! It’s not all quantitative!

    (Note: Partial Human’s anecdote is obviously in this pseudo-nonymous blogging context difficult to verify, as are all of our statements, pretty much. I’m not saying her anecdote is the exact equivalent of a scientific case study – merely pointing out that it has a similar logical merit. The knee-jerk and ignorant dismissiveness shown toward “anecdata” grates on me – there’s actually quite a strong research tradition which supports the use of qualitative data when used appropriately.)

  164. Kierra
    June 26, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Preserving women’s autonomy is a priority, but a no less relevant one than preserving a future human’s right to the best their parent can (feasibly, to the best of their judgement and ability) offer them. Like I said above, I think the latter has been neglected in favour of the former

    I think the part of the cultural context that you are missing is that no one is forgetting that there’s a baby involved. I think if “no smoking and no drinking” was the only things that pregnant women were told not to do, I don’t think there would be this type of push-back. But in the USA, it’s grown to a whole laundry list of don’ts with a heaping side of “we aren’t sure if these are dangerous, but it’s better to be safe, think of the baby every time you do ANYTHING!!!” And given that their have been studies that have shown no ill effects of light-to-moderate drinking, what exactly is the problem with giving pregnant women more leeway?

  165. Marcie
    June 26, 2012 at 8:16 am

    @Katerina:

    Look, I get what you guys are saying, but it frankly boggles me that you’re advocating for your own autonomy, and taking away someone else’s autonomy in the same breath. Namely, the unborn child who never agreed to prenatal poisoning.

    That’s the point.
    Hereabouts, the “unborn child” is not “somebody”, it’s not a person, not a human beeing and thus has no rights whatsoever.
    If you damage it by exerciseing your freedom, just abort the lump of cells and try again, as Azalea so eloquently suggested.

    Ideas and rethorics like that are the biggest favour feminists can do for the “pro-lifers”.

  166. Marcie
    June 26, 2012 at 8:25 am

    @benvolio:

    More Feminism will help here, seeing as ‘man’ seems to be the default in most biomedical research, but not knowing the answers is the culprit, and should be vanquished.

    You’re right.
    We should advocate for more medical research and experimentation on women, preferably pregnant ones.
    For science and feminism!

  167. chava
    June 26, 2012 at 9:26 am

    At school, did you ever do the experiment where you drip alcohol as low as 80% on some raw egg white, and watch it denaturate and harden? That’s what happens when alcohol meets protein. Scaled down to the kind of concentration found in beer and wine and the like, the effect is much less intense, but the same in its general nature. Not a good thing to expose a developing fetus to.

    At school, did you ever take enough organic chemistry and biology to learn that not everything interacts in the human body the way it does when you drip ethanol on an egg?

  168. EG
    June 26, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Katerina, you can quote Bloix all you like, but that’s entirely irrelevant to the conversation you are intervening in. If you look at the conversation I’m in with Whirlibell, he/she is saying that parents, not parents to be, but actual parents, should give up alcohol. The effect of alcohol on a developing fetus has nothing to do whether or not it’s OK to have a couple glasses of wine with dinner while you are raising a kid.

    Preserving women’s autonomy is a priority, but a no less relevant one than preserving a future human’s right to the best their parent can (feasibly, to the best of their judgement and ability) offer them. Like I said above, I think the latter has been neglected in favour of the former

    So…you’re seeing a host of women saying “it’s totally feasible for me to do/not do X, and my best judgment says I should do/not do X, and I think I can, but fuck it, who cares?” Because what I’m seeing is a bunch of women saying “it’s up to me and my doctor, not a bunch of strangers, to decide what’s feasible, to make judgment calls, and to assess what my abilities are, and with that in mind, I see no reason to think that light drinking has anything to do with FAS.” Where are you getting this impression that scads of US women–or even the US women who post here–fundamentally don’t have the “basic decency” to care about the baby they’re making?

    But seriously if you drink -heavily- while your pregnant just for your own indulgence and your child is fortunate to come out unscathed and when he or she does a lot of partying and drinking when they are older try to leave out that part when you show concern for your child’s habits because you will look like a world class hypocrite, hell they are least making the choice to do so by their own rather than having it shoved down their throats (figuratively speaking)

    That’s a fascinating imaginary scenario you have there. Of course, it has nothing to do with anything anybody is discussing here, but it’s certainly imaginative.

  169. Ledasmom
    June 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Besides: “as low as 80%”? That would be 160 proof, an extraordinarily strong drink and far above any concentration that will ever occur in the bloodstream. 0.08% is the legal limit for driving in Massachusetts, for example, and 0.35 leads, apparently, to blackouts and stupor.
    I am no drinker myself, rarely having even as much as one drink, but if we insist on women avoiding such risk as may be associated with a single alcoholic drink of normal strength then we are essentially saying that no risk above the minimum possible is acceptable for a pregnant woman. The ultimate conclusion to be drawn from that line of reasoning is left as an exercise for the reader.

  170. dungone
    June 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Hereabouts, the “unborn child” is not “somebody”, it’s not a person, not a human beeing and thus has no rights whatsoever.

    And they say women are the more nurturing sex…

    I mean, pregnancy is a human responsibility. If you can’t handle it in a mature fashion, get an abortion or abstain. If you’re going to put someone on this earth, then at least do the bare minimum to ensure that they don’t suffer for the rest of their lives due to your peccadilloes.

    My reasoning was that the damage I was doing to myself and my baby by have a cigarette when I was really stressed out was probably a hell of a lot less than the damage I would do walking into heavy traffic

    This kind of thing is where I draw the line. I don’t care what “reasoning” someone has for self-medicating. When a Christian Scientist refuses to take their kids to the doctor, it’s child abuse. I guess they’re in good company when at least some portion of women believe that ignoring their doctor’s advice is the the feminist thing to do.

    “It’s probably not harmful to drink sparingly during pregnancy… Oh but still don’t drink during pregnancy!”

    Yeah, but don’t tell them that there’s absolutely no link between parabens and breast cancer… only the paraben-free wrinkle cream will do, thank you very much…

  171. EG
    June 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    at least do the bare minimum to ensure that they don’t suffer for the rest of their lives due to your peccadilloes.

    And what is “the bare minimum”? You castigate one woman for smoking; are you not aware of the deleterious effects of withdrawal? There are doctors who indeed think that one or two cigarettes a day is less harmful than sending your body into withdrawal. And unless you’re the pregnant person, this is not your decision to make.

    I like the way you cut off the end of Andie’s comment, by the way, which, if you can’t remember was “which was something that occasionally crossed my mind when I was most stressed out and/or depressed.” She was stressed out and depressed, and chose the less harmful of two kinds of self-harm. Ideal? No. But this is the actual place where she was emotionally. Pregnant women have to deal with the actual situations they are in, not your ideal.

    pregnancy is a human responsibility. If you can’t handle it in a mature fashion, get an abortion or abstain.

    Apparently, “mature” means “doing what dungone thinks is right,” not “getting all the information you can and then making your own decision.”

  172. dungone
    June 26, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    And what is “the bare minimum”? You castigate one woman for smoking; are you not aware of the deleterious effects of withdrawal?

    Yeah, it’s not life threatening, trust me, I’ve been surrounded by hundreds of heavy smokers who couldn’t get a cigarette in months because we were in combat. But all the more reason to quit before you get pregnant, you know? Child bearing age… having unprotected sex? What do you think is gonna happen? Maybe you should deal with drug use ahead of time so you don’t become an anxious mess with a baby in your womb. You know… that would be responsible.

    Apparently, “mature” means “doing what dungone thinks is right,” not “getting all the information you can and then making your own decision.”

    By all means, go to med school and get all the information. And make your decision. Just also be aware that society will make its decision, too, and for good reason – they bear the costs of that child as well. Just getting a kid through high school costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, not to mention the hard work that a good father will put into all aspects of childcare. And nobody wants to raise a dud because you felt that it’s really your own personal choice whether or not to douse the fetus in toxic chemicals. Yep, maturity would be seeing that the world is about more than just yourself.

  173. chava
    June 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    And nobody wants to raise a dud because you felt that it’s really your own personal choice whether or not to douse the fetus in toxic chemicals. Yep, maturity would be seeing that the world is about more than just yourself.

    A DUD? Seriously? You might want to check that abelism there, buddy.

  174. DonnaL
    June 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    douse the fetus in toxic chemicals

    All of a sudden we’ve gone from having an occasional glass of wine to inserting a tube in your uterus and pouring in the Scotch through a funnel.

  175. dungone
    June 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    A DUD? Seriously? You might want to check that abelism(sic) there, buddy.

    Spelling ableism correctly would possibly ease some of the irony in that retort. One of the biggest forms of ableism comes in the form of patronizing comments, such as the ones that don’t come to grips with the fact that many disabled people would love it if they weren’t disabled. Consider a war vet who lost both his legs but keeps hearing everyone say, “someday you’ll walk again if you just believe in yourself!” The tragic tale of Christopher Reeves comes to mind.

    At any rate, checking: a dud is a bomb that failed to achieve its potential (to explode) after it had been dropped from a plane. This makes it analogous to pregnancy as well as the entire spectrum of rearing children. In this context, the child is a product of its parents and the decisions those parents made, just as a dud is a mis-manufactured, mis-used piece of ordinance. A careful reading would differentiate between a child itself, who deserves unconditional love, and the process of delivering a child into the world.

  176. dungone
    June 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    All of a sudden we’ve gone from having an occasional glass of wine to inserting a tube in your uterus and pouring in the Scotch through a funnel.

    Actually, we’ve gone from having an occasional glass of wine to cavalierly disregarding medical advice which still maintains – don’t do it. And not only that, but then gone from an occasional glass of wine to smoking up to 2 cigarettes per day throughout a pregnancy can’t be bad, either. Not to beleaguer the point, but some people apparently need strict black and white rules that they can readily understand. Nobody came out and said, “hey, a glass of wine or two probably doesn’t hurt – so use your best judgement!” They said, “hey, a glass of wine or two won’t hurt – but we really don’t know how much is okay for everyone.”

  177. dungone
    June 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    This is really about social contract theory versus liberterianism. A decent comparison to make would be the way the government makes it illegal for guys to climb on top of bridges and buildings to jump off of them with a parachute (base jumping). So these guys love to complain about how their freedom is being infringed upon and how they really, really know what they are doing. But their broken neck at the bottom of some ravine jeopardizes the safety of rescuers as well as creating 30-50 years of disability checks that will need to be paid for by others. So there it is – a glass of wine probably won’t cause any harm – but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your doctor if she tells you that you’re better off not having it, still.

    Oh – and eating raw fish while pregnant – really bad idea. Sushi is usually prepared without gloves and the raw fish are a breeding ground for bacteria. Your immune system is suppressed during pregnancy. Do the math… At the end of the day, being frowned upon for being irresponsible is just being frowned upon for being irresponsible.

  178. thinksnake
    June 27, 2012 at 3:20 am

    At school, did you ever do the experiment where you drip alcohol as low as 80% on some raw egg white, and watch it denaturate and harden?

    … as low as? Most beers and wines are in the range of 5-10%. It takes strong spirits to get past 50%. What are you drinking that will still be 80% once absorbed into the bloodstream?

  179. Ledasmom
    June 27, 2012 at 5:15 am

    And nobody wants to raise a dud because you felt that it’s really your own personal choice whether or not to douse the fetus in toxic chemicals

    Well. isn’t that a lovely way to refer to those human beings that you purport to be so concerned about?
    For the record, my mother smoked throughout her pregnancy with me because it isn’t so fucking easy to quit. Addictive, you know. Seriously addictive. Were the deleterious effects on the fetus known back then? Not specifically, but it was pretty much known that cigarettes weren’t healthy. I have some issues that may – may – be related to that. Would she have been able to quit if more specifics had been known? Possibly not. See “addictive” above. I don’t blame her for not quitting. See, the thing is, human beings don’t become superhumans capable of resisting everything just because a zygote happened to implant. There’s no free personality/biochemical/body transplant that changes their urges and abilities. You have the same person subject to the same strains and pressures, only expected now to be beyond perfect.
    Seems like a lot of people are subscribing to the idea of the mythical no-risk state, from which anything but perfect behavior removes you and produces an unacceptable risk to the fetus. There is no state of no risk. There are avoidable major risks, unavoidable major risks (abuse, car accidents – the only way not to be at risk from vehicles is never to leave your home, as pedestrians are at greater risk than people in cars, and even then someone could drive into your house) and a whole slew of minor risks (plenty of medications, for example, that haven’t specifically been tested for safety in pregnancy). There is no evidence for a single occasional drink in pregnancy being any sort of risk.
    Honest to Hannah, this is beginning to remind me of those people who claim birth-control pills as an abortifacient because failure of implantation was listed as a possible mode of action, despite further research demonstrating that they do not work that way. That something was once considered theoretically bad does not mean that it must now be considered bad if there is evidence to the contrary. It’s like blaming someone for their child getting a cold because the child went out without a coat in bad weather.
    And if someone did blame a parent for that, I bet the parent who got blamed would be a mother. Stands to reason.

  180. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Actually, we’ve gone from having an occasional glass of wine to cavalierly disregarding medical advice which still maintains – don’t do it. And not only that, but then gone from an occasional glass of wine to smoking up to 2 cigarettes per day throughout a pregnancy can’t be bad, either. Not to beleaguer the point, but some people apparently need strict black and white rules that they can readily understand. Nobody came out and said, “hey, a glass of wine or two probably doesn’t hurt – so use your best judgement!” They said, “hey, a glass of wine or two won’t hurt – but we really don’t know how much is okay for everyone.”

    No, ONE poster said that 2 cigarettes a day was better than suicide.
    Secondly, most doctors I have spoken to (including my spouse) fall on the side of “light drinking is fine” when you ask them one-on-one. It’s the public health message that lacks nuance. Further, ALL the available evidence indicates that light drinking is not harmful and perhaps beneficial. The ONLY evidence for harmful drinking is from binge and heavy drinkers.

  181. Laura
    June 27, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Hurrah!

    When pregnant with my last child, I had pyelonephritis (basically a really bad kidney infection) at 32 weeks. I spent a week in the hospital where the morons in the ER managed to flood my iv and give me pneumonia, atelactasis and pleural effusions. In the course of my spending a week in the hospital, I took ALL of the following: morphine, percocet (round the clock), ambien, and rocephin (mega antibiotic given by IV). I also had a CT scan, a chest x-ray AND a cardiac ultrasound. I joked that my son was going to be born pickled, especially when my OB came in with a percocet AND and ambien for me to take TOGETHER.

    If I took a percocet and an ambien together right now, I’d sleep for a week. I can’t imagine how crazy a narcotic combo that is.

    So for the powers-that-be to say a glass of wine could–COULD, mind you–cause irreparable harm to my unborn baby just makes me laugh. My OB was NOT one to say totally abstain from alcohol; in fact, after my week with percocet, she said that a fetus was surprisingly resilient. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. None of us. It’s all rather Charles Darwin, if you think about it.

    I did not drink during the 1st trimester with any of my 3 pregnancies (not counting taking Communion at Church, if you really want to get technical :) ). But I definitely had wine afterwards–a glass here and there (anniversary, Christmas Eve, particularly terrible day) but I knew not to have a bender. I mean, really.

    And as far as nursing a baby goes, my pediatrician said as long as you could drive a car, you can nurse a baby. So the wine was back on the table in full force. All 3 of our sons are perfect…

    Are we fortunate? Did I dodge a bullet? Why, yes, I did. I dodged a bullet at the moment of conception that all of their chromosomes would replicate themselves correctly. I dodged a bullet that all 3 survived delivery. I dodged a bullet that the pyelonephritis (with my 3rd) or the hyperemesis and placental abruption (with my 2nd) didn’t throw me into a very early labor.

    It’s all a crapshoot in the end. There’s way more at work that we could ever imagine.

    Thanks for the article!!

  182. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Oh – and eating raw fish while pregnant – really bad idea. Sushi is usually prepared without gloves and the raw fish are a breeding ground for bacteria. Your immune system is suppressed during pregnancy. Do the math… At the end of the day, being frowned upon for being irresponsible is just being frowned upon for being irresponsible.

    Are you really this stupid? A lot of these “medical restrictions” are culturally determined, for one thing. What do you think Japanese women eat while pregnant? No, you should absolutely not eat sushi prepared anywhere you don’t trust/anywhere where you do not believe the fish is damn fresh. You also want to stay away from shellfish and stick to sushi grade cold water fish.

    However, in the USA’s food system, you are still more likely to get food poisoning from a goddamn canteloupe (where the last batch of salmonella poisoning came from) than from sushi.

  183. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 8:46 am

    No, ONE poster said that 2 cigarettes a day was better than suicide.

    Smoking is associated with increased risk for suicide, so in a way it’s not “better” so much as a “contributing factor towards.” At any rate, it’s the baby who suffers most. The one poster was more or less in line with other posters who rationalize putting themselves ahead of a baby’s needs.

  184. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Smoking is associated with increased risk for suicide, so in a way it’s not “better” so much as a “contributing factor towards.” At any rate, it’s the baby who suffers most. The one poster was more or less in line with other posters who rationalize putting themselves ahead of a baby’s needs.

    Got it. Better for the mother and baby to die than have two cigarettes per day. God forbid the baby turn out, how did you put it? A “dud.”

  185. Ledasmom
    June 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

    And, you know, once you let a woman believe she can put herself ahead of the baby’s needs during pregnancy, she’s liable to think she’s entitled to some sort of life outside her role as caregiver to the little darling after birth.
    Incidentally, depending on whether there’s an actual cause-and-effect with regards to smoking and suicide and which way it goes, those two cigarettes could increase, decrease or not affect the chances of the pregnant woman committing suicide. Statistics: It’s all fun until someone gets their eye put out by a lit cigarette held by a pregnant woman.

  186. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Got it. Better for the mother and baby to die than have two cigarettes per day. God forbid the baby turn out, how did you put it? A “dud.”

    How do you “got” anything? Smoking cigarettes = higher rate of suicide. Smoking = more likely to actually die. Smoking = one of the reasons she was thinking of killing herself. She was self medicating her depression during a pregnancy. It’s incredibly irresponsible and the rationalization for it is incredibly weak.

    Are you really this stupid? A lot of these “medical restrictions” are culturally determined, for one thing. What do you think Japanese women eat while pregnant?

    Right, you mean the “culturally determined” stuff that leads do, I don’t know, avian flu outbreaks that always seem to originate in Asia? People over there walk around with breathing masks due to the habits of other people within their culture. You want to know stupid? Still, Asians can stomach foods that Westerners simply cannot – they’ve been eating it their whole lives. My sister in law told me how her mother used to prepare large fish in Vietnam that would then be eaten for days without the benefit of refrigeration – the fish was literally rotting – and westerners who tried that dish would get sick.

    Stupid is when you ignore a waiter who might know a little more about the food preparation conditions at the restaurant where you’re eating and then go around proclaiming that you “trust” that the food is safe. Regardless, you still have to avoid fish with a high mercury content. Maybe she was ordering raw tuna.

    And, you know, once you let a woman believe she can put herself ahead of the baby’s needs during pregnancy, she’s liable to think she’s entitled to some sort of life outside her role as caregiver to the little darling after birth.

    Yeah, that is totally not a valid argument. Unless by “life outside her role as a caregiver,” you mean something along the lines of dousing her kids with gasoline and setting them on fire. Sorry, but kids are a responsibility from beginning to end. If you hate children then don’t have any. They’re not some sort of a toy or a status symbol.

  187. Ledasmom
    June 27, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Right, having a drink or two during pregnancy = hating children. I bow down to the validity of your argument.
    I note that you have completely ignored what I said about causation/correlation regarding smoking and depression. Well done. Certainly it is more crucial to take a bludgeon to a bit of sarcasm than to address any actual logical points.
    Signed: the dud.

  188. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Right, having a drink or two during pregnancy = hating children. I bow down to the validity of your argument.

    Nobody said that. What was said is that the right amount isn’t something that you can determine for yourself, i.e., you should talk to your doctor and take the advice seriously. Not, as in this thread, where people read something in a newspaper and then bash public health policies that seem to impose an inconvenience upon them.

  189. Laura
    June 27, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Dungone, do you have any children? (sorry, but I’m not wanting to swim back through 190 posts to find out.).

    Here’s the point: unless you’ve been pregnant, you have no idea how irritating it is to have know-it-alls come up and say ‘you can’t have this’, ‘you can’t have that’. it’s constant. blue cheese. wine. smoked turkey from the deli. caffeine. tap water. the list goes on and on ad infinitum.

    No one is arguing that being pregnant isn’t a sacrifice. Of course it is. It’s dangerous and it’s something that should not be gone into without a great deal of forethought. Obviously no one sets out to push the envelope and see just what all one could do while pregnant before it all goes terribly wrong. But pushing the envelope is NOT what is being discussed here. One glass of wine or a cigarette here and there is NOT pushing the envelope. Pushing the envelope is shooting up heroin, sucking down whiskeys at happy hour daily or smoking 2 packs a day.

    Moderation, people. Moderation. And if your version is moderation is total and complete avoidance of ALL potentially harmful substances, then more power to you. No flouride toothpaste, remember! Chemicals…bad for baby! Only organic veggies, remember! Chemicals…bad for baby!

    It breaks down to people’s views on vices. Smoking and alcohol are taboos to some folks but–obviously–not to others. Wonder if I went off about how evil blue cheese is to our society…suppose I could dig up statistics showing that a few women who ate blue cheese while pregnant birthed babies of smaller birth weight. Blue cheese = THE DEVIL. You’d all roll your eyes at me because it would be such a silly argument. If you only ate blue cheese and NOTHING ELSE, yes, it might be a little repulsive. But in moderation…seriously.

    People need to quit acting superior just because they choose not to drink. Give me a break. Prohibition has long been abolished.

  190. Bagelsan
    June 27, 2012 at 11:10 am

    People need to quit acting superior just because they choose not to drink. Give me a break. Prohibition has long been abolished.

    Yeah, because it was unrealistic, not ’cause alcohol isn’t bad for you. Same with this discussion; women can drink while pregnant ’cause apparently anything else is unrealistic, but it doesn’t mean it won’t put the fetus at risk.

  191. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Right, you mean the “culturally determined” stuff that leads do, I don’t know, avian flu outbreaks that always seem to originate in Asia? People over there walk around with breathing masks due to the habits of other people within their culture. You want to know stupid? Still, Asians can stomach foods that Westerners simply cannot – they’ve been eating it their whole lives. My sister in law told me how her mother used to prepare large fish in Vietnam that would then be eaten for days without the benefit of refrigeration – the fish was literally rotting – and westerners who tried that dish would get sick.

    Stupid is when you ignore a waiter who might know a little more about the food preparation conditions at the restaurant where you’re eating and then go around proclaiming that you “trust” that the food is safe. Regardless, you still have to avoid fish with a high mercury content. Maybe she was ordering raw tuna.

    Uh-huh. In no particular order:

    1) You don’t actually have to avoid fish with a high Mg content. You just can’t go hog-wild on them (avoid more than a certain number of servings/week). One order of tuna sashimi will not do you in.

    2) Japan is a solidly first-world nation, particularly when it comes to things like infant mortality and obstetrics. Aside from which, the rotten fish preparations (which are actually a dish, you realize, not just people deciding hey! rotten fish!) are more common in Southeast Asia.

    3) Yes, culturally determined. In France no one blinks if you have wine. They DO irrationally freak out about cellphones, metal detectors, etc. I had people physically move my laptop off me while pregnant in Paris. So while there are absolutely things that are unequivovally bad for a fetus, what small risks we choose to freak out about are culturally determined.

    [That said–food poisoning in pregnancy is a Big Deal, and actually slightly more likely to cause maternal death than fetal damage. You can’t make your food perfectly safe, and the chance of getting ill is still small–but being careful is a good idea. I took to washing my fruit and veg with mild soap, as that is a pretty large vector for toxins in the current food supply]

  192. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

    One person’s “one drink” is going to be a long island iced tea (4 servings of alcohol), while someone else might interpret it as drinking “moderately” which, to an alcoholic, could mean just about anything. To some people, “one drink per day” might be 7 drinks in a sitting once a week. Or, a skinny 4’8 woman might think that the serving sizes apply to her, in spite of them being based on the average 5’9 man. People have this penchant for rationalizing – men and women alike. If you are crafting a public health message, unfortunately you have to base it on how the people you are really trying to reach will react… and sometimes the only good answer is to tell them that, unless they talk to their doctor, they just shouldn’t do something.

  193. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 11:18 am

    How do you “got” anything? Smoking cigarettes = higher rate of suicide. Smoking = more likely to actually die. Smoking = one of the reasons she was thinking of killing herself. She was self medicating her depression during a pregnancy. It’s incredibly irresponsible and the rationalization for it is incredibly weak.

    Ah, forgot this one. First of all, you know zip about her reasons for suicidal depression. Second, most of the major SSRI’s are arguably more damaging to a fetus than 2 cigarettes/day. Finally, did it occur to you that not everyone can afford to have an in-depth consult with both an OB and a psychiatrist to determine appropraite medication, and then afford that medication? Oh wait, I forgot. Those people just shouldn’t have had “unprotected sex,” right? Got to keep the undesirables from breeding.

  194. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 11:21 am

    One person’s “one drink” is going to be a long island iced tea (4 servings of alcohol), while someone else might interpret it as drinking “moderately” which, to an alcoholic, could mean just about anything. To some people, “one drink per day” might be 7 drinks in a sitting once a week. Or, a skinny 4’8 woman might think that the serving sizes apply to her, in spite of them being based on the average 5’9 man. People have this penchant for rationalizing – men and women alike. If you are crafting a public health message, unfortunately you have to base it on how the people you are really trying to reach will react… and sometimes the only good answer is to tell them that, unless they talk to their doctor, they just shouldn’t do something.

    Funny, yet the undergraduate institution at which I teach manages to hang these convenient charts everywhere explaining what “1 drink” is and how many one should have based on gender and weight. It’s almost like people can learn something. Besides, you’re moving the goalposts. I agree that to some extent a lack of nuance in public health messages in inevitable. But that isn’t what you’ve been saying. You’ve been saying that drinking, eating sushi, etc during pregnancy–regardless of moderation or care–is irresponsible. Becuase, you know a father might not want to take care of a “dud.”

  195. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 11:21 am

    @Chava, Mg is magnesium. Of course you don’t have to avoid that – people are commonly deficient in it. But fish aren’t a primary source so it would seem especially weird to avoid them based on that. Mercury is Hg, and yes, you should avoid that. I don’t know where you’ve heard that you don’t. And yes I know the rotting fish dish is a dish. Westerners can still get sick from it. I maintain my point – that unless you are actually of that culture and have a high tolerance for their food – then you shouldn’t use their eating habits to justify your own.

  196. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Yeah, because it was unrealistic, not ’cause alcohol isn’t bad for you. Same with this discussion; women can drink while pregnant ’cause apparently anything else is unrealistic, but it doesn’t mean it won’t put the fetus at risk.

    No. Women can consume 1-2 servings of alcohol a week during pregnancy because there is no evidence that it is harmful. Say it with me. Nooooo evidence. Zip. Nada. None.

    Yes, it MIGHT be harmful. But 1) you can’t prove an absence of harm, it’s impossible. See the anti-vaxers, and 2) that logic leads us to insane places with pregnancy. Anything MIGHT be harmful when done to an extreme. It does not logically follow that the same thing done in moderation is also harmful.

  197. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I agree that to some extent a lack of nuance in public health messages in inevitable. But that isn’t what you’ve been saying. You’ve been saying that drinking, eating sushi, etc during pregnancy–regardless of moderation or care–is irresponsible.

    No, you’re completely wrong and I think you are just arguing past me. I’ve been saying that you shouldn’t just do whatever it is you feel like without talking to your doctor about it. I am reacting to the tone in various comments that lambasted public health policies and began rationalizing all kinds of things – even smoking 2 cigarettes per day. I am largely reacting to the anti-science and anti-medicine undertones in those comments. I am 100% against self medication and self diagnosis. I’ve said, repeatedly, that pregnant women should consult their doctors.

  198. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 11:27 am

    @Chava, Mg is magnesium. Of course you don’t have to avoid that – people are commonly deficient in it. But fish aren’t a primary source so it would seem especially weird to avoid them based on that. Mercury is Hg, and yes, you should avoid that. I don’t know where you’ve heard that you don’t. And yes I know the rotting fish dish is a dish. Westerners can still get sick from it. I maintain my point – that unless you are actually of that culture and have a high tolerance for their food – then you shouldn’t use their eating habits to justify your own.

    Blech, my mistake. Coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. Anyway–look, you’re wrong, I’m sorry. Go look at the Mayo Clinic websites on pregnancy. The standard of care is avoid more than a certain # of servings of hihg-Hg fish/week, not to totally abstain. How many servings depends on the fish. IIRC, shark is so toxic you shouldn’t have it at all, but I could be wrong.

  199. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 11:51 am

    @chava, in the case of mercury I am staunchly in favor of being skeptical towards anyone who says it’s fine, given a history of heavy industry lobbying. The allowances are based on a supposed level of mercury in each type of fish, but the government doesn’t actually test the fish on a regular basis. The fish sold to you in stores could easily have a much higher amount than what is safe. Again – it’s one of those “talk to your doctor” things.

  200. June 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I am 100% against self medication and self diagnosis. I’ve said, repeatedly, that pregnant women should consult their doctors.

    What about people who can’t afford anything but self-medication?

    I mean, let’s take a totally non-pregnancy-related thing: my fibromyalgia. Massages help me a lot; swimming helps some; muscle relaxants help only marginally. Now, I can get a swim pass for two months and change for the same price as a single cheap massage. So what am I going to pick? The six massages a year that help me a lot but which costs a buttload of money or the consistent swimming that keeps me fitter and relatively mobile, but in close to constant joint pain? The swimming, obviously.

    In a similar sort of risk analysis, an SSRI that is definitely, 100% known to mess with fetal development is a terrible medication to be on. Instead, say a depressed person chooses a glass of wine a week, which helps them cope with being unmedicated while clinically depressed. Is the wine an ideal solution? No. Is it definitely a risk mitigation (as in, it might be the last straw that keeps a horrifically depressed pregnant woman from committing suicide)? Yes. Yes, it is.

    No one’s standing in a circle around pregnant women, handing them straws to a vat of beer as tall as they are and screaming DRINK NOW DRINK NOW. Jesus fucking calm down.

  201. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    What about people who can’t afford anything but self-medication?

    That’s what public health messages are for, quite honestly. Poor people are especially vulnerable to bad advice and that’s why an easy to understand, one-size-fits-all health message is necessary for them. Self-medication is among the absolute worst choices they can make.

  202. June 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I am 100% against self medication and self diagnosis. I’ve said, repeatedly, that pregnant women should consult their doctors.

    Spoken like someone who’s never been burned by doctors.

  203. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Is it definitely a risk mitigation (as in, it might be the last straw that keeps a horrifically depressed pregnant woman from committing suicide)? Yes. Yes, it is.

    As with cigarettes, self medicating depression with alcohol during pregnancy has got to be among the most conceived ideas anyone could come up with, especially considering that alcohol is a depressant. It’s probably incredibly important to treat depression during pregnancy, but that’s all the reason for women to avoid self medicating at all costs.

  204. June 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    It’s probably incredibly important to treat depression during pregnancy

    Um

    probably incredibly important

    UM.

    You know what a horrible risk to fetal development is?

    Attempted suicide by the pregnant woman.

    In case that hasn’t occurred to you.

    Also, yes, alcohol is a depressant, but it’s also a frequent coping mechanism, particularly among people who can’t afford expensive medication. I mean, I’m on 80% coverage right now because I’m a full-time student and I’d still be upping my monthly expenses by 8% to go on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. And this is in fucking Canada, not the United Workhouses of America.

  205. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Spoken like someone who’s never been burned by doctors.

    That doesn’t seem like a valid argument against modern medicine and public health. Your life expectancy wouldn’t come anywhere near 80 years if it wasn’t for the work done by doctors. You’d live more like 50 if you were lucky.

  206. June 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    That doesn’t seem like a valid argument against modern medicine and public health.

    Because it’s not a valid argument against modern medicine, it’s an argument that not everyone might have got the same treatment from doctors as you, privileged dude. See my links at #29.

  207. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    UM.

    You didn’t detect my sarcastic tone. The sarcasm was due to the person I was debating with claiming that depression during pregnancy is a very serious issue and this was somehow supposed to justify self medication.

    Also, yes, alcohol is a depressant, but it’s also a frequent coping mechanism

    Alcohol only offers temporary relief from depression, after which it makes matters worse. It’s a case study for why people shouldn’t self medicate. Especially pregnant women, whose hormone levels can interact unpredictably with depression, who then throw alcohol into the mix. Crazy! It’s been shown that even light drinkers (1 drink a day) had improved their depression by abstaining altogether. With some depression, like manic depression, you just shouldn’t drink at all.

  208. June 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    That doesn’t seem like a valid argument against modern medicine and public health. Your life expectancy wouldn’t come anywhere near 80 years if it wasn’t for the work done by doctors. You’d live more like 50 if you were lucky.

    Trust me, I’m quite aware of the marvels of modern medicine. I’m not anti-science, medicine, or public health. I’m anti-being-treated-by-arrogant-and-ignorant-doctors. Which has been the majority of my experience. An advanced degree doesn’t protect you from bias. Declaring something in the name of public health doesn’t protect that proclamation from kyriarchy. And doctors often have some pretty firmly entrenched beliefs that may or may not have basis in scientific research.

  209. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    it’s an argument that not everyone might have got the same treatment from doctors as you, privileged dude. See my links at #29.

    Again, an invalid argument. This is like an inverse gambler’s fallacy – that if you had a bad outcome with a doctor one time, with one disease, that you will always have bad outcomes with all medical issue. Your past experience has no relevance on the overall probability that doctors help people.

    You also misjudge me, as I have had various medical complications that weren’t taken care of correctly by doctors. For example I had a broken arm that was set incorrectly and grew back at a 10 degree angle, which necessitated a second surgery to correct – oh, and I grew up under the poverty line. As I said, poor people are especially vulnerable to bad medical advice. One of my girlfriends tried to convince me once that it’s okay for poor people to visit psychic healers because they don’t have health insurance – an astoundingly badly reasoned argument. If you look at all the quacks out there and the people who they tend to victimize with their screwball advice, it’s predominantly the poor.

  210. June 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Holy Fucking Shit. This is what I get for walking away from a comment thread for a few days.

    Thanks to everyone who stepped in here. Dugone, you’re making a hell of a lot of assumptions here. One being that I wasn’t consulting with my doctor. Both my doctor and a psychiatrist refused to medicate because A) HELLO! PREGNANT (as someone pointed out upthread, SSRI’s can pose huge risks) and B) my depression at the time was deemed situational and not chemical.

    I never claimed that what I did was totally okay or right in any way. Only that it was the lesser of two evils.

    Got it. Better for the mother and baby to die than have two cigarettes per day.

    Oh and let’s not forget, leave a toddler motherless in the process. Way better.

    All that being said, fuck you very much, dugone.

  211. EG
    June 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Yeah, it’s not life threatening, trust me, I’ve been surrounded by hundreds of heavy smokers who couldn’t get a cigarette in months because we were in combat.

    Not life-threatening, but actually, really, really bad for the fetus. How many of those heavy smokers you know were pregnant?

    But all the more reason to quit before you get pregnant, you know? Child bearing age… having unprotected sex? What do you think is gonna happen? Maybe you should deal with drug use ahead of time so you don’t become an anxious mess with a baby in your womb. You know… that would be responsible.

    Awesome idea. So ladies who smoke and become pregnant should just jump in their time machines, zip back six months, and quit before becoming pregnant! That’s totally helpful advice.

  212. June 27, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    You didn’t detect my sarcastic tone. The sarcasm was due to the person I was debating with claiming that depression during pregnancy is a very serious issue and this was somehow supposed to justify self medication.

    Clearly, you didn’t detect mine. Depression is a serious fucking problem, dipshit. I approve of practically any healthyish way of coping with it. And sorry, but if a drink every couple of weeks or so is alcoholism I don’t know many people who aren’t alcoholics.

    oh, and I grew up under the poverty line. As I said, poor people are especially vulnerable to bad medical advice

    Yes, they are, but class is far from the only axis of oppression there is. Race, gender, sexuality. Look ’em up.

    This is like an inverse gambler’s fallacy – that if you had a bad outcome with a doctor one time, with one disease, that you will always have bad outcomes with all medical issue.

    Or, you know, like arguing that because this one woman out there gave her baby FAS after one drink that one time, all women ever shouldn’t drink or they’re just being irresponsible. Jeepers, your cognitive dissonance.

    Look, I’m not terribly pro-drinking-during-pregnancy. I am, however, pro-not-being-an-asshole-at-pregnant-people. Stop ad homineming six ways to Sunday and listen to people’s actual arguments.

  213. Kristen J.
    June 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Awesome idea. So ladies who smoke and become pregnant should just jump in their time machines, zip back six months, and quit before becoming pregnant! That’s totally helpful advice.

    Right?? I guess the other option is that people with a uterus shouldn’t drink or smoke because we might get pregnant.

  214. June 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    So ladies who smoke and become pregnant should just jump in their time machines, zip back six months, and quit before becoming pregnant!

    Yes, but all feminists have time machines. This is clearly how we’ve managed to oppress the patriarchy from before feminism existed.

  215. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Not life-threatening, but actually, really, really bad for the fetus.

    Citation? What is the “really really bad” part? I seriously doubt that a bit of stress caused by 2-3 weeks of withdraw is worse for a fetus than 9 months of nicotine ingestion. I’m looking at one website that says nicotine use causes more problems for a fetus than cocaine use.

    So ladies who smoke and become pregnant should just jump in their time machines, zip back six months, and quit before becoming pregnant!

    It’s called a condom. Use it. Anyone who says that pregnancy comes as a complete surprise is full of shit. She probably lit one up right after that amazing unprotected sex she just had. As I said, the phrase “reproductive age” is important. And it’s important for fathers as well – potential fathers should definitely quit smoking as that is associated with adverse risks to the baby long before you get pregnant. Smoking is generally bad and shouldn’t be done… people who need pregnancy as an excuse to even consider quitting it are complete idiots.

  216. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Right?? I guess the other option is that people with a uterus shouldn’t drink or smoke because we might get pregnant.

    Any smoker alive today who isn’t trying to quit at this very moment may just qualify as being dumb as a rock in my book. Male or female. Now, what’s that got to do with drinking? Trying to put words in my mouth? Unless you’re an alcoholic, you’re generally not going to have a problem putting the booze away for 9 months. And like I said, if you get pregnant and you’re a smoker – quit. Time Machine not required.

  217. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Clearly, you didn’t detect mine. Depression is a serious fucking problem, dipshit.

    Still not detecting the sarcasm. Where was it exactly? Because, earth calling mars – I didn’t really say that depression is not a serious problem, except to poke a hole in the idea that anyone would seriously consider self medicating their serious problems away. You still didn’t seem to get that… You still don’t get that alcohol is a depressant – what about that neurochemical fact don’t you get?

  218. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Yes, they are, but class is far from the only axis of oppression there is. Race, gender, sexuality. Look ‘em up.

    I’ve got absolutely no idea why you feel that this is relevant. We’ve gone from talking about people who can’t afford health insurance because they’re poor, with you accusing me of being of being rich and never having had a bad experience with a doctor, to you accusing me of… I’m not sure what… because of race, gender, sexuality, and lookupism.

  219. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    It’s called a condom. Use it. Anyone who says that pregnancy comes as a complete surprise is full of shit. She probably lit one up right after that amazing unprotected sex she just had. As I said, the phrase “reproductive age” is important

    Riiiiight. Birth control never ever fails, and women of child-bearing age should treat their bodies as if they might at any moment fall pregnant.

  220. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Or, you know, like arguing that because this one woman out there gave her baby FAS after one drink that one time, all women ever shouldn’t drink or they’re just being irresponsible. Jeepers, your cognitive dissonance.

    Putting words in my mouth again? Only known cases of FAS happen to alcoholics. You’re not listening – as a public health policy, to ensure that people don’t self medicate for the main part, especially those who can’t afford to consult a doctor. As in the really terrible idea for pregnant women to drink their depression away instead of asking for help, that’s the very kind of thing that I believe justifies telling women to give up alcohol during pregnancy.

    I am, however, pro-not-being-an-asshole-at-pregnant-people. Stop ad homineming six ways to Sunday and listen to people’s actual arguments.

    Says the woman who calls me a dipshit and who puts words in my mouth whilst not listening to my own arguments?

  221. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Riiiiight. Birth control never ever fails

    Not to belabor the point, but like I said:
    “And like I said, if you get pregnant and you’re a smoker – quit. Time Machine not required.”

    I will add that if you plan on keeping a baby should you get pregnant, and you’re having sex, then quit smoking. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if accidents happen. Still, a condom in conjunction with the pill has a very low failure rate. It’s not like the vast majority of surprise pregnancies happen to women who were really doing everything they could to stop it. If you plan on having an abortion in the event of an accidental pregnancy, then more power to you, smoke all you want.

  222. tinfoil hattie
    June 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    dungone, you are a dude, so you should really, REALLY just STFU with all the mansplaining about what birth control women should use. Seriously.

    As for drinking while pregnant, I did not and would not do it. Someone else? Probably makes/made her own decions around that subject just the way I did, by taking into account many, many factors.

    Also, I’m not one for believing that if something bad happens to your baby because of something you did during pregnancy (maybe), you deserve it! I’m not that much into punishment and retribution. So no, when an acquaintance’s oldest child died at age 5 due to a heart defect, AND his mother smoked while she was pregnant, I failed to see why anyone would get any satisfaction from that outcome. Anyone but a hateful asshole, that is.

  223. EG
    June 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    It’s called a condom. Use it.

    Interestingly, condoms have a 0% effectiveness rate after pregnancy has already occurred, so again, your suggestion is irrelevant to a pregnant smoker deciding with her doctor the best way to proceed.

    Anyone who says that pregnancy comes as a complete surprise is full of shit. She probably lit one up right after that amazing unprotected sex she just had. As I said, the phrase “reproductive age” is important.… people who need pregnancy as an excuse to even consider quitting it are complete idiots.

    Or, you know, addicts. Smoking is actually physically and psychologically addictive.

    You do know, right, that for many women, “reproductive age” starts at 12? And that plenty of people–brace yourself for this one–aren’t 100% responsible all the time? That doesn’t make them idiots; that makes them human beings.

    It’s unclear to me why you feel a woman having a cigarette after sex is so despicable, but your tone indicates you do. Perhaps you’re just a judgmental asshole who enjoys slut-shaming women for having superhot sex? (Although, to my knowledge, sex does not have to be superhot to result in pregnancy.)

    I don’t have cites for the stress of withdrawal on the fetus; I just know somebody whose doctor, after talking with her, recommended that she gradually cut down as much as possible, but that in her case, the side effects of quitting altogether were not worth the benefits.

  224. EG
    June 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Sorry for the tag mess-up in my previous comment.

  225. June 27, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Putting words in my mouth again? Only known cases of FAS happen to alcoholics.

    *sigh* I was pointing out the illogicality of your argument, not making one. Sorry I was unclear. Um and there was an example above of FAS without exposure to alcohol. Anecdotal, but eh.

    with you accusing me of being of being rich and never having had a bad experience with a doctor, to you accusing me of… I’m not sure what… because of race, gender, sexuality, and lookupism

    o_O Dude, I didn’t say that you were rich, or that doctors cuddled you and gave you rainbows and puppies. In fact, I didn’t say jack shit about YOU or your own particular privileges, aside from male as you’ve identified as male in previous posts. I just pointed out that poor straight white men might be treated differently from poor black straight women who might be treated differently from poor gay white men, etc, etc… intersectionality exists, and different people have different experiences and can be oppressed or privileged in different ways, often simultaneously. Feminism 101.

    I didn’t really say that depression is not a serious problem, except to poke a hole in the idea that anyone would seriously consider self medicating their serious problems away

    \
    Except, as multiple people have pointed out, the actual medication for depression isn’t prescribed to pregnant women because it’s dangerous to babies. Provably and consistently, whereas no one actually knows the FAS threshold and there’s contradictory evidence that alcohol in small quantities isn’t harmful. Women who can’t get anti-depressants often fall back on coping mechanisms, which are often fucked up and ineffective but which keep them alive long enough to hopefully regain access to medication. Unless of course the ideological purity of the foetus is more important than its actual survival, and trust me, a woman jumps off a bridge, ain’t no foetus surviving that.

    Lol…the ad hominem thing? I don’t care what you call me, I don’t care what I call you. We’re impolite people and that’s fine. The problem is when you talk to perfectly civil people and attempt to call them evil liars.

  226. shfree
    June 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    It’s called a condom. Use it. Anyone who says that pregnancy comes as a complete surprise is full of shit. She probably lit one up right after that amazing unprotected sex she just had. As I said, the phrase “reproductive age” is important. And it’s important for fathers as well – potential fathers should definitely quit smoking as that is associated with adverse risks to the baby long before you get pregnant. Smoking is generally bad and shouldn’t be done… people who need pregnancy as an excuse to even consider quitting it are complete idiots.

    My daughter? Conceived whilst a condom was used. And I certainly smoked and drank before I knew I was pregnant. Oh, and my prenatal healthcare worker, I SHIT YOU NOT, told me that if it was going to cause me immense amount of stress to quit, that it would be better for the fetus for me to cut back on my smoking than to quit entirely. So, Dugone, as a formerly pregnant person, who HAS seen an actual live practitioner for medical advice on how to handle her pregnancy, I can tell you that you can kindly mind your own damn business. You don’t know what you are talking about.

  227. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Spelling ableism correctly would possibly ease some of the irony in that retort. One of the biggest forms of ableism comes in the form of patronizing comments, such as the ones that don’t come to grips with the fact that many disabled people would love it if they weren’t disabled. Consider a war vet who lost both his legs but keeps hearing everyone say, “someday you’ll walk again if you just believe in yourself!” The tragic tale of Christopher Reeves comes to mind.

    At any rate, checking: a dud is a bomb that failed to achieve its potential (to explode) after it had been dropped from a plane. This makes it analogous to pregnancy as well as the entire spectrum of rearing children. In this context, the child is a product of its parents and the decisions those parents made, just as a dud is a mis-manufactured, mis-used piece of ordinance. A careful reading would differentiate between a child itself, who deserves unconditional love, and the process of delivering a child into the world.

    Sorry about my spelling there, the baby in my other arm has required some of that responsibility and sacrifice you keep on about; hence, less sleep.

    As far as your retort…look, you can talk about a “careful reading” and the dictionary definition of the term all you want, but the comment that “no one wants to raise a dud” is just…ugh. I mean yes, there is some parental disappointment/rage/grieving that happens when your child is disabled. Of course there is. And the child would (sometimes yes, somtimes no) prefer not to be that way. But you still don’t call someone’s kid a “dud,” I don’t care how they got that way or whether or not you think they would rather be ‘normal.’

  228. Bagelsan
    June 27, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Instead, say a depressed person chooses a glass of wine a week, which helps them cope with being unmedicated while clinically depressed. Is the wine an ideal solution? No. Is it definitely a risk mitigation (as in, it might be the last straw that keeps a horrifically depressed pregnant woman from committing suicide)? Yes. Yes, it is.

    If you’re suicidally depressed? Don’t drink alcohol, please. That mitigates shitall. >_<

  229. chava
    June 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    It’s unclear to me why you feel a woman having a cigarette after sex is so despicable, but your tone indicates you do. Perhaps you’re just a judgmental asshole who enjoys slut-shaming women for having superhot sex? (Although, to my knowledge, sex does not have to be superhot to result in pregnancy.)

    I dunno, EG, he seems more concerned with All Those Loose Women having unprotected sex who might not get an abortion, and thus leave a man on the hook for the defective child that will result if they do not Consult a Doctor for every decision and then follow said doctor’s advice to the letter. Better yet, quit all bad habits if you intend to keep a baby who is a result of bc failure…that way you won’t, and I quote,

    “end up an anxious mess with a baby in your womb.”

  230. Becky
    June 27, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Except, as multiple people have pointed out, the actual medication for depression isn’t prescribed to pregnant women because it’s dangerous to babies. Provably and consistently,

    That’s not accurate… most SSRIs fall into the “not proven to be harmful but not enough studies have been done to consider them safe” for pregnancy and breastfeeding. My doctor recommended I stayed on my SSRIs during pregnancy and breastfeeding because it was less risky than going off them and becoming depressed and unable to take care of myself & my baby. I didn’t take them regularly because I was afraid of what would happen to the baby and the post-partum depression hit me really hard. So I’d ask people to be careful with the “SSRIs hurt babies” rhetoric because that rhetoric hurts women.

    None of which is to condemn Andie, I see her doctor wouldn’t prescribe her medication. And if someone decides that one or two cigarettes or glasses of wine a day is less risky than SSRIs, that’s their choice to make. I just want to be careful with spreading fear regarding SSRIs and pregnancy.

  231. Bagelsan
    June 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Noo, Becky! Don’t you understand that drugs/alcohol/cigarettes are vital to the health of pregnant mothers everywhere? The last thing we need is the voice of reason on this issue!

  232. Becky
    June 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Bagelsan – I did have a glass of wine once or twice a week during pregnancy, and it was good for my mental health. I just think we can defend the right of pregnant women to decide for themselves what to put in their bodies without scaremongering about SSRIs.

  233. dungone
    June 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    @chava, if you got rid of the snarky and immature tone intended to insult and disparage, I’d say you sort of got the general idea. I have little to no tolerance for people who are anti-science and anti-medicine. It really doesn’t have anything to do with women or with pregnancy, it’s just that it’s particularly odious when there is a little baby’s life at stake. I think I know a little bit about what it’s like to put other people’s lives ahead of my own – I used to take a military working dog out on patrols in Iraq to look for roadside bombs. You’re right if what you’re thinking is that I have very low tolerance for other people’s shenanigans when they refuse to take on adult responsibilities.

  234. zuzu
    June 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I have little to no tolerance for people who are anti-science and anti-medicine. It really doesn’t have anything to do with women or with pregnancy, it’s just that it’s particularly odious when there is a little baby’s life at stake.

    And yet neither science nor medicine can give us any hard rules, which is why scientists and doctors have said it’s okay to drink in small amounts during pregnancy. Yet despite your stated intolerance for anti-scientific and anti-medical positions, here you are taking a position that ignores what those scientists and doctors have said. Instead, you’re taking a faith-based, scaremongering approach.

    My goodness. If one cigarette can kill a little baby, it’s a wonder my five siblings and I weren’t stillborn. Mom smoked like a chimney during all her pregnancies. Never was much of a drinker, but she had the odd cocktail, too.

    I think I know a little bit about what it’s like to put other people’s lives ahead of my own – I used to take a military working dog out on patrols in Iraq to look for roadside bombs.

    Did you care that those bombs wouldn’t be there if the US military wasn’t in Iraq? What about the lives of the little Iraqi babies?

  235. Tamara
    June 28, 2012 at 4:41 am

    I just wanted to step in and mention that the latest maternal mortality report from New Zealand has placed suicide as the number one cause of maternal death. Maternal depression, it is a serious thing.

  236. EG
    June 28, 2012 at 5:26 am

    At any rate, checking: a dud is a bomb that failed to achieve its potential (to explode) after it had been dropped from a plane. This makes it analogous to pregnancy as well as the entire spectrum of rearing children.

    No. No, it really doesn’t. There is nothing about a dropping a bomb from a plane that is at all analogous to pregnancy or raising children.

    Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic’s website on pregnancy and antidepressants notes that Depression treatment during pregnancy is essential. If you have untreated depression, you might not have the energy to take good care of yourself. You might not seek optimal prenatal care or eat the healthy foods your baby needs to thrive. You might turn to smoking or drinking alcohol. Apparently, and who could have guessed this, oh, right, anybody with a brain who knows anything about depression, being depressed causes you to take lousy care of yourself and use cigarettes and alcohol to dull the pain frequently enough that acknowledging that without being a judgmental asshole about it is part of their discussion on treating depression during pregnancy. Maybe that means it’s a common human thing to do?

    Nah, it must just be those selfish pregnant women cavalierly making lousy decisions because they don’t care enough to put an innocent baby’s life ahead of themselves.

  237. chava
    June 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Noo, Becky! Don’t you understand that drugs/alcohol/cigarettes are vital to the health of pregnant mothers everywhere? The last thing we need is the voice of reason on this issue!

    Bagelsan, no-one said that, eh? I don’t understand what your dog in this fight is…I get that you didn’t have a problem giving up even light drinking. Your meds are incompatible with it. Pregnancy is not. Chill.

  238. chava
    June 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    chava, if you got rid of the snarky and immature tone intended to insult and disparage, I’d say you sort of got the general idea.

    My dear sir, I am almost always snarky and immature. Especially on the internet. In any case, if I got your point with the send-up above…then your point is both sexist and rather ignorant of how people not like yourself experience the medical system.

  239. Bagelsan
    June 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    You might not seek optimal prenatal care or eat the healthy foods your baby needs to thrive. You might turn to smoking or drinking alcohol.

    Hence smoking and drinking alcohol; not optimal prenatal care. It’s a choice people make, but it isn’t really a great choice. Which would seem like an obvious concept, but somehow we’re 244 comments in anyways.

  240. EG
    June 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Hence smoking and drinking alcohol; not optimal prenatal care. It’s a choice people make, but it isn’t really a great choice.

    Has anybody suggested otherwise? What people have said, time and time again, is that there is zero evidence that light to moderate drinking has any effect whatsoever on a developing fetus. What I have said is that pregnant women live in the real world, and sometimes “not a great choice” and “not optimal prenatal care” can be the best available option.

  241. Schmorgluck
    June 30, 2012 at 9:52 am

    As a matter of fact, a pasteurized soft cheese bears a higher risk of contagion by pathogenous listeria (since it’s what we’re talking about) than a carefully controlled unpasteurized soft cheese. This is because the latter is saturated with inoccuous bacteria, while the former is virgin territory for any random bacterium to settle on.

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