Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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An Occasional Splurge?
“A woman asks, ‘Is one drink going to hurt my baby?’” says Charles Goodlett, Ph.D., a psychologist at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis who also has extensively researched the topic. “If you mean one drink poured into a big Mason jar, that’s a large amount of alcohol in a short time. How you define one drink is important.”
What about when you drink? Many women believe it’s safer to drink during the third trimester than the first. In fact, researchers say, all stages of pregnancy contain “critical periods” of development for different parts of your baby’s body. Drinking during the first trimester can lead to physical abnormalities in a baby’s face or head. During the second trimester — a big time for brain development — heavy drinking may cause certain types of brain damage. And excessive alcohol in the third trimester can lead to stunted growth. In other words, there isn’t a “safe” time to drink during pregnancy.
Drinking While Nursing
Of course, your baby’s development doesn’t stop in the womb. If you drink while breastfeeding, your child will ingest some of that alcohol, too. “Even though the alcohol is diluted in your bloodstream, a [nursing] child can ingest enough of it to have an effect,” Warren says. For that reason, many public-health specialists say nursing mothers should abstain as well.
Much like your tightest jeans and late-night movies, cutting back on or
giving up alcohol altogether is a temporary trade-off for a healthy baby. But there is a way to make things easier: Recruit help. With your partner, create a social life in which drinking isn’t a temptation, Jacobson says. Chambers’ husband, for example, has stopped buying alcohol until they can enjoy it together. The time to lift a glass in cheer will eventually come, probably sooner than you think.