Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pregnant Boozers

The office of the surgeon general released a statement in February of 2005 urging women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant to abstain from drinking anything that contains alcohol. Why it took them this long is beyond me.

I don't understand why I see so many frum women drinking while they're pregnant. They always say "Its only for kiddish..." or "Oh, its just a little, its not dangerous." or something to that effect. Where that legitimization came from, is also beyond me.

Drinking just a little is just as dangerous to an unborn child as drinking a 40 oz Heineken. But even if it were allowed, why would any woman even risk the chance of deforming her child in-utero? Thats like saying. "Oh, a little drop of cyanide might not kill me, why don't I just drink it anyway? its only a little." I'm pretty sure if lethally poisonous Japanese blowfish was kosher, these types of women would eat it during pregnancy too. Again, this ignorance is a product of neglect. The neglectful part, being an uninformed mom-to-be. These women don't do any reading on whats not okay to do when they're pregnant. They rely on Bubbe's story about how she rubbed a little mashke on her gums while she was pregnant to relieve nausea.

Pick up practically any book on pregnancy and you'll find a chapter on FASDs (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders). Half the parenting mistakes these women make from conception til the chuppa could be avoided with just a little reading. Of course, as I mentioned in my post on uninformed pregnancy, they just write it off as something they don't need to concern themselves with or just ask mom who most likely drank when she was pregnant too.

By the way, this also applies to nursing mothers. Alcohol is directly transferred to the baby through breast milk, so unless Mom wants a drunk baby, she shouldn't drink until she stops nursing. There is a thing that some nursing women do called "Pump and Dump" which is basically disposing of the milk produced right after the drinking, but I wouldn't even consider that to be okay. If she dumped 98% of the boozed milk and even 2% got into the baby's system, that would still be bad. Again, why risk it?

No its not okay to drink while you're pregnant. Not even a little. The risk of abnormalities and or death is not worth it. It sounds crazy that some people actually need to be told this, but they do. If you ever see a pregnant woman drinking, stop her. If she resists, don't be polite. Make a scene. You'd be doing her unborn child a great favor.


  1. Ummm... my doctor said that it was just fine to have a little wine in my 3rd trimester. FASD does not occur in the 3rd trimester OR in nursing babies. They have the ability to process the alcohol at that point. Now, obviously you should not indulge heavily since the degree to which it affects them is greater than the degree that it affects you, but as a whole this piece is highly uninformed and a bit hysterical.

  2. I don't agree with a lot of your statements, yet I respect what you are saying. There may be a safe level of alcohol, yet we don't know what it is. I don't agree that a sip equals a 40 oz beer.

    Some of the issues you bring up are societal - lots of kids are neglected physically and/or emotionally because their mothers are on the phone. While there were distractions a generation ago, the phone is worse because the mother carries it everywhere she goes.

    Cellphone neglect is not a problem just of the frum community.

    However, in the world at large, pregnant mothers are much more concerned about avoiding alcohol, getting proper prenatal care, and child safety.

    A problem you haven't touched on (yet) is the overwhelming conformity demanded by the frum community. Kids are expected to conform. A kid with different needs becomes a square peg and is labeled as a "bad kid" because he can't handle a schedule that is longer than many adults' workdays - for example, 7:35 am to 5:30 pm in middle school. Forcing kids to conform is a kind of abuse.

    Finally, even though many frum people do not understand what constitutes proper medical care, there's an overreliance on alternative quack therapies like homeopathy, natural cures, and vitamins. Anything the medical establishment recommends is viewed with suspicion. A quack practitioner, though, is likely to have a large following.

  3. Anonymous. Click on the link to my source before you say I'm uninformed. Even if I was, I'd rather be hysterical and be 100% sure my kid isn't going to be in harm's way.

    When a child is in-utero, everything that goes into Mom will go through it. Would you give a 6 month old a shot of whiskey? Not drinking during pregnancy wouldn't hurt anyone. Drinking during pregnancy, might. The slight chance of my child being hurt in any way is one chance too many.


    I appreciate your respect for my opinion. I agree that "Cellphone neglect" is not just a problem in the frum community. However I believe neglect is a problem that is specifically prevalent in the frum community, and thats why I address these issues from this perspective.

    I do plan on talking about the issues of conformity. Look for it in a future post. I also agree with what you say with regards to quack practitioners and overreliance on alternative medicine, although I don't see what it has to do with my post. In the future keep comments on topics in their respective comment box.

  4. So the same people who say abortion is evil and wrong, poison their kids in the same name of religion. What a strange world....

  5. viral,

    its not done in the name of religion. its just done out of ignorance. The more ultra orthodox some Jews get, the more they are discouraged from exposing themselves to any outside influences that could "corrupt" them. This can be anything and everything not directly approved by a rabbi.

    Extremism is really the problem here, and unfortunately it exists in all religions. I'm just observing it from the perspective of mine.

    At the end of the day, too much of anything, especially religious stringency, is bad for you.

  6. > Drinking just a little is just as dangerous to an unborn child as drinking a 40 oz Heineken.
    From the statement you cite:
    “we do know that the risk of a baby being born with any of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders increases with the amount of alcohol a pregnant woman drinks, as does the likely severity of the condition.”

    You may be right that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is not worth the risk, but clearly a 40 oz Heineken is much worse than a little sip.

    You’ve got to relax a little. Babies are not made of spun glass, and treating kids as if they are can also have long-term negative effects.

  7. I am extremely uncomfortable with your telling every sexually active woman between 18 and about 45 that she is not allowed to drink. Ever.

  8. Why is it that not drinking alcohol for 9 months has to be such a huge sacrifice. Were not talking about oxygen here. Do people really need alcohol so much that they can't live happily for 9 months without it?

    I seemed to have touched a nerve here. Awesome.

  9. So here is a study that proves light drinking (up to 3 glasses of wine a week) is just fine for prenant ladies: http://www.stats.org/stories/2007/what_risks_light_alco_preg_dec12_07.htm

    But from my association with frum women, almost none of them drink anyway- pregnant or not.

  10. I think that if anybody started making a scene and got in my pregnant face over a sip of wine at a kiddush I would punch them.

  11. The study said that any woman who is or who may become pregnant should not drink alcohol. Basically, that is any sexually active woman from the ages of 18 to about 45. Not nine months, twenty-seven years! You are telling women that they are not allowed to drink for twenty seven years. That is ridiculous. (I will withdraw my objections if you are willing to say that men should not drink either. Grape juice for all!)

  12. All the people responding need to stop being so defensive and actually look at the links MP has provided. No, a little drink IS NOT harmless. At the wrong time even one drink can have serious permanent effects on your baby.

    "My great grandmother drank, and her kids turned out alright," is simply irresponsible. They might not have turned out as well as you thought. She might not have been tossing down as much booze as you are. And even if she was lucky there's no excuse for doing something which we know is harmful just because you like the sauce.

  13. As a (hopeful, I'm still going through the rigors of certification) LLL leader- a nursing mother CAN have some liquor. Preferably, one should wait at least 20 minutes (some research says up to 1 hour) after drinking alcohol before nursing a baby- but studies have shown that minimal amounts of alcohol goes into breastmilk if not drunk in excess and if an appropriate amount of time is waited. Check the research before stating.

    Regarding kiddush- how do you know it was not grape juice?

    But I concur- no one really knows the exact amount of alcohol that is harmful to a pregnancy- so therefore, one should be 'machmir'. I for one, only drank grape juice for kiddush when I was pregnant.