I knew that I was pregnant the day after it happened, but as I had been warned to do, I waited the obligatory two weeks before testing myself for fear of a false negative. In that time, I went on a road trip with my husband up through Denver and back. He's a beer connoisseur and as such, breweries were plotted all along the trip. As I said, I really knew that I was pregnant, but something in my brain was OK with having a few beers because I hadn't officially tested myself. At some point during the trip, my guilty conscience overcame me and I stopped partaking.
"It's no big deal to drink in those first two weeks because the baby doesn't get any of your nutrients," everyone I have ever met who had been drinking during their first two weeks of pregnancy told me.
You hear tons of horror stories of utter slosh, shots on top of shots, beer pong parties, trips to Cancun that resulted in finding oneself in an alley with no recollection of how one arrived there, and all of these people were pregnant at the time and their babies turned out just fine.
Drinking and pregnancy causes such heated debate among women. Believe me, I have Googled the two words at least twice a day for the past eight months. You become frantic for some doctor to say, "Hey man, it's just our uptight society and it's totally fine to do." But no one will say that. Officially.
Recently, yet another study was released on the subject of drinking and being preggos. This most recent study, coming out of Denmark, says that it's not only OK, but you will have better children for it!
Investigations by psychologist Janni Niclasen from the University of Copenhagen found women who drank 90 units - equivalent to just over one glass of wine a week - while pregnant had better emotional and behaved children.
Of course the study then goes on to disclaim that this is not an invitation to drink while with child, just saying that your children will be better for it.
There's more to this particular study than meets the eye. Women who drink wine, in general, are more apt to be educated, affluent and healthier by and large. The study also found that these women exercised more regularly. In my very unscientific opinion, this study is not a good predictor of the affects of alcohol on pregnancy; it's more of the affects of being a yuppie on pregnancy.
The Dutch apparently are really into trying to decide whether to drink or not while pregnant as another study was recently released on the effects. A book has just come out by Dutch neuroscientist Dick Swaab stating that women who imbibe while pregnant may be causing their unborn children to develop homosexual or bisexual tendencies. According to the research, homosexuality is caused by stresses in the womb, and when women drink or smoke or take drugs, their bodies are under more stress. Of course, this is the work of one scientist, but it's gotten a lot of backlash from anti-gay groups who have longed affirmed that being homosexual is a lifestyle choice rather than biological.
These reports, while not wholly related, seem somewhat conflicting in putting stress on your body, which alcohol is known to do. Is your child going to be better behaved or be attracted to someone of the same sex. Or both?
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What I think is more interesting about these two studies and the multitude of others out there is why we keep studying this subject at all. Why do we women so desperately need to drink during this time? It's only nine months; is it really that difficult just to stay sober?
Yes. Yes it is.
This debate will rage on for as long as there is no conclusive evidence. Our mothers' mothers' drank martinis and smoked cigarettes and ate Spam regularly, and life went on. At some point society drank nothing but alcohol because water would kill you. And what about all those French women we hear about drinking while pregnant and eating soft cheeses and not gaining any weight and looking amazing? The French are doing just fine.
But then, is it really worth the risk? I allowed myself one glass of wine on Thanksgiving and drank about three sips before getting a headache, which I assumed was my conscience yelling at me from inside of my skull, and that was the end of that. But I was rather pleased to hear that alcohol evaporates out of your breast milk quickly and that they make alcohol tester strips so you can check your levels before giving over the boob.