Health And Wellness

Why I Drank While I Was Pregnant

Photo: anatoliy_gleb / Shutterstock
pregnant woman

I took my pregnancy test after drinking a yard-long margarita at a downtown festival, right before pouring myself a glass of wine.

I wasn't trying to conceive and I was on birth control. I felt confident that only one pink line would show up, but I wanted a little peace of mind. I didn't want to be drinking during pregnancy, after all.

I'd been feeling a little off lately. There was that one night not too long ago when I had forgotten to take my pill in the morning, and I took it at night instead. But what are the odds, right? Next to nothing.

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When I picked up the test three minutes later, there was no mistaking two bold pink lines. I was pregnant.

I took a sip of my wine, then poured the rest down the sink. I didn't really think twice about the margarita I had consumed earlier or the daily drink or two I had enjoyed over the past few weeks.

It was summer, there had been barbecues and events, and even if there hadn't been, I don't need an excuse as a grown woman to enjoy a reasonable amount of alcohol as I see fit.

The CDC, however, doesn't see it that way. Those "pre-pregnancy test" drinks should have been causing major concern and absolute panic.

According to their recommendations, any woman of childbearing age who isn't on birth control should abstain from alcohol completely, just in case they get pregnant. They also made sure to note that women drinking alcohol leads to pregnancy, don't you know?

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Setting aside the deeply troubling sexist vibes of these new guidelines, the CDC's recommendations aren't helping anyone, least of all women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.

Dealing with an unexpected pregnancy (or even a wanted pregnancy) is incredibly stressful. These recommendations do nothing to help women positioned to bring a child into the world. If anything, it's causing more unnecessary worry without even bothering to bring any hard evidence to the table.

Of course, drinking during pregnancy can be problematic. And I'm not downplaying the seriousness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

However, the CDC is using the argument that because no known amount of alcohol consumption is safe, then any little bit must be dangerous, dangerous, dangerous.

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I, for one, am calling BS. I went on to drink a small glass of wine or two per week throughout my pregnancy once I got over the initial shock of it being unplanned.

Once I had adjusted to the fact that I was going to bring another baby into the world, I was still overwhelmed by the stress it brought on. I had suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of my son and we had decided not to have any more children.

I didn't want the risks or the horrible anxiety that came with pregnancy. Yet here I was, facing all that uncertainty again. Darn right I needed a drink.

I never felt guilty or like I was doing something wrong by having a small drink while I was pregnant. In fact, I'm pretty sure it did me and my baby a world of good to take a bit of the edge off.

The occasional drink helped keep my stress levels low — and ultimately it contributed to a healthier pregnancy for me.

I went into birth calm and confident, and never once worrying about the irrevocable damage I might have caused by my little weekly glass of cabernet. My baby turned out beautiful and healthy, just as I knew she would be.

I don't look back at my pregnancy and wish I had done things differently. I don't believe, in hindsight, that the CDC's recommendations would have changed my mind. If there were noted cases of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in women who drank moderately while pregnant, it would be a whole different story.

The risk simply wasn't there, so I stand by my choice — and so should you. Cheers to having agency over your own body.

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Gemma Hartley is a freelance writer whose writing has appeared on Early Mama, Child Mode, MindBodyGreen, and Role/Reboot. Visit her website for more.