Everyone knows that drinking during pregnancy is bad (m’kay), yet the Centers For Disease Control reports that 1 in 10 pregnant women in the US admit to consuming alcohol in the last month. So … can pregnant women drink wine during pregnancy? Or alcohol of any type? In any amount? At any time?
In a word: no. In several words: every pregnancy is different, some doctors will tell you occasional small amounts are okay, more research is needed, and the debate is far from settled … but most of the major relevant medical organizations in the U.S. clearly say no.
Wagner T. Cassimiro
So, if you consult the American Congress Of Obstetricians And Gynecologists, American Pregnancy Association, American Academy Of Pediatrics, or CDC, expect to get an earful about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. These include everything from miscarriage to stillbirth to lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities, which is why those organizations are emphatic in their positions.
But, if you consult all your childbearing friends, expect to hear plenty of anecdotes about doctors who told them a small glass of wine once a week or so is totally fine. In fact, a 2010 ACOG survey found that 40 percent of doctors felt some alcohol consumption by their patients was fine, and their U.K. equivalent — the Royal College Of Obstetricians And Gynecologists (because of course it’s royal) — states that “small amounts of alcohol after the first trimester does not appear to be harmful.”
Whether you and your partner side with the “9 Months Ain’t Such A Long Time” camp or the “Our Moms Drank When They Were Pregnant And We’re Fine” camp is ultimately a personal choice. One thing is certain, though: If your partner does decide to partake now and then, you probably don’t want to announce that on the internet.
Likely the bigger ask would be to kick their preferred drug of choice: caffeine. Thankfully, most research suggests pregnant women (and their spouses, coworkers, and any poor sap who fails to give up his seat on the train) don’t have to forgo their daily cup of joe. Exactly how much is safe, however, remains something of a debate.
Erring on the side of caution, it’s recommended that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams a day — roughly one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Consuming more than that daily could double the risk of miscarriage over a woman who consumes none, according to a 2008 study. Consuming more than 500 mg daily during pregnancy could result in a higher heart rate and more time spent awake for your baby during their first few days of life, and you certainly don’t need to help them out when it comes to keeping you awake. Finally, pregnancy retards the body’s natural ability to break down caffeine, so the jitters, heartburn, and insomnia will linger even longer for your already uncomfortable wife.
Therefore, it’s probably best to avoid caffeine as much as possible, which includes other craveables that contain caffeine like tea, soft drinks, and, sadly, some desserts. Here are the caffeine counts for some of the ones your partner is most likely to consume (or really, really want to):
- Generic Brewed Coffee, 8 oz: 95-200 mg
- Starbucks Brewed Coffee, 16 oz (grande): 330 mg
- Dunkin’ Donuts Brewed Coffee, 16 oz: 211 mg
- Generic Instant Coffee, 1 tsp granules: 31 mg
- Generic Decaf Coffee, 8 oz: 2 mg
- Generic Brewed Green Tea, 8 oz: 25 mg
- Starbucks Tazo Chai Tea Latte, 16 oz: 95 mg
- Snapple, 16 oz: 42 mg
- Lipton Brisk, 12 oz: 5 mg
- Diet Coke, 12 oz: 47 mg
- Pepsi, 12 oz: 38 mg
- Sprite, 12 oz: 0 mg
- Red Bull, 8.3 oz: 77 mg
- 5-Hour Energy, 2 oz: 138 mg
- Dark Chocolate (70-85% Cacao Solids), 1 oz: 23 mg
- Coffee Ice Cream Or Frozen Yogurt, 8 oz: 2 mg
- Chocolate Milk, 8 oz: 5-8 mg
So yeah, your wife’s mood might not be the greatest for those 9 months, but compared to your kid’s entire life, that’s a decaffeinated drop in the coffee pot. (And a horrible analogy.) Plus, they’ll forget all about caffeine as soon as they get a look at these delicious mocktails. Mmm, mmm! Sparkly water! Do you mind if I have some of your tasty beverage?