The New York Times: Drinking While Pregnant: An Inconvenient Truth

Recommending that pregnant women not drink alcohol has been called old-fashioned and even patriarchal. So, as a feminist, my opinion may come as a surprise.

Credit Illustration by Claire Milbrath

By Jen Gunter

Pregnant women are given a long list of medical recommendations that can come across as patriarchal don’ts: Don’t eat raw fish. Don’t consume deli meats. Don’t do hot yoga! Don’t drink.

There’s scientific evidence that these activities can have negative impacts on the health of the fetus, but the one that seems to be the source of most debate is alcohol.

After all, the French do it, don’t they?

And many people born in the 1960s or earlier had mothers who drank. And we’re fine, right?

My mother had a fairly regular glass of rye and ginger ale when she was pregnant with me. And she smoked. And I graduated from medical school at the age of 23.

So my opinion, especially as someone who believes strongly in a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, may come as a surprise: It’s medically best not to drink alcohol in pregnancy. Not even a little. The source of that viewpoint? My training and practice as an OB/GYN.

Some attribute this abstinence approach to the patriarchy: Clearly we doctors know that moderate alcohol is safe (we don’t!), and we just don’t trust women with that knowledge. According to this theory, we think a woman who hears that an occasional drink is O.K. will blithely go on a bender. (We don’t think that.)

Some also say that, in an effort to avoid frivolous lawsuits, doctors advise against alcohol while using a nudge-nudge-wink-wink to insinuate that a glass or two is fine.

But this isn’t about sexism (not this time) or dodging litigation. This is about facts. How women use those facts is, of course, their choice.

The truth is that fetal alcohol syndrome is far more common than people think, and we have no ability to say accurately what level of alcohol consumption is risk free.

Click here for full article.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s