Wine Didn’t Make Me a Better Mom
But you wouldn’t know that scrolling through Instagram. Instead of peddling alcohol and memes, society should give women what they really need: support and resources.
By Kelley Manley Aug 23, 2021
One evening in 2017, about six months into motherhood, I drank my first glass of wine after nine happy years alcohol-free. I was 38 and with some new mom friends at a trendy restaurant in Denver, talking sleep training and weaning. My daughter was the best thing that had ever happened to me, but as enraptured as I was, I was also coming to terms with the fatigue, loneliness, and clipped wings that mothering an infant can bring. So I ordered a glass of Prosecco. I didn’t have to explain why I didn’t drink or worry that I was a buzzkill. It was the easy thing to do. I’d been seduced by the pervasive and dangerous myth pushed by social media, marketing, and Big Alcohol—a $253 billion industry in the U.S.—that booze makes motherhood much easier.
I’m not alone in that seduction. During the pandemic, women increased their episodes of heavy drinking, defined as four or more drinks within a couple of hours, by 41 percent. In winter 2021, anecdotal evidence from hospitals across the country emerged pointing to a 30-to-50 percent spike in cases of alcoholic liver disease, an illness that usually occurs in men and most often appears in middle age, over the previous year. The most dramatic upticks occurred in women under 40, who, says Brian P. Lee, M.D., a transplant hepatologist at Keck School of Medicine of USC, “have been disproportionately affected by pandemic-related stresses and may be drinking more to cope.”
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