While everyone seems to be on the same page that binge drinking is definitely not a good idea while pregnant (it can lead to a miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects or developmental disabilities), some people have questioned whether or not light drinking is okay. The latest on that bandwagon is a new study out of Denmark claims that women who consume small amounts of alcohol while pregnant are actually healthier in many ways than women who don’t. The study is a bit problematic, but first, let’s go over the data.
Researchers examined more than 63,000 pregnant Danish women and found that those who admitted to being light drinkers during their pregnancies were more likely to exercise; have a body mass index in the normal range; eat more fish; and drink less soda compared to those who abstained from drinking. That’s all fine and good (we love healthy moms!) but what does this have to do with the baby’s health? A respected study from 2012 shows that as little as two drinks a week in the first trimester can increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage. In my book, the risk of losing your baby entirely is far worse than the risk of a slightly higher body mass index!
In another study, researchers looked at 1,600 children in Denmark, considering the ability of the 5-year-olds to pay attention. The researchers found no negative effects on children whose mothers reported drinking up to eight drinks per week. But again, this data only focuses on the children who were born from those mothers who drank–those who survived the pregnancy. It’s harsh to say, but true that they couldn’t exactly survey those who didn’t make it through until labor day.
The truth is that differences between individual women, such as genetic or metabolic differences, likely influence the effect of alcohol on a fetus. Whereas some research has suggested that drinking does not harm babies, according to an article in Live Science, researchers say “nothing causes problems in 100 percent of exposed babies.” Because of that, most pediatricians and health organizations recommend pregnant women avoid alcohol entirely, as there’s no sure way to determine how any one child might be affected.
I feel like this debate could go on a lifetime. While most doctors across the board say not to drink while you’re pregnant (and Parents as a whole advises against it since any data saying it’s “safe” just isn’t strong enough), I’ve had friends whose doctors have prescribed a half glass of red wine when they’ve had constant Braxton Hicks contractions late in their pregnancy. The theory? The wine will relax them and therefore the muscles in the uterus, causing the annoying (not really painful) contractions to stop. Plus, there’s thinking that alcohol is less dangerous in the third trimester than in the first half of the pregnancy.
Even though this study, and a brash new book now say there is no evidence drinking just a little while pregnant will harm your baby, I’m too much of a scaredy cat (which actually might be a good thing during pregnancy!) that I’d never take the risk. To think that something could go wrong with a child of mine over a drink that I really didn’t need, would be too much guilt for me to bear. But like everything else in life, it’s an individual decision, and one a woman needs to make for herself after being fully informed.
TELL US: Do you think it’s ok to drink while pregnant? Have you been? Would you judge a woman if you saw her drinking a glass of wine at dinner?
Rosie Pope is an amazing pregnancy concierge, fashion designer, reality star, and frequent Parents contributor. She gives great advice to pregnant women every day on what they can do to prepare for motherhood. But now the “Pregnant in Heels” star is opening up to Everything Pregnancy in the most personal way possible—talking about her ongoing struggles with infertility, which is a topic that is unfortunately still taboo.
Many women don’t want to discuss the feelings of pain, frustration and shame that come with not being able to conceive. It’s obviously a very personal choice, but Rosie and I feel that talking about it, and letting other women know that they’re not alone, is a powerful thing. Here’s my candid Q&A with Rosie, a true inspiration to women with infertility issues, as she’s the proud mom of three, and has another one on the way! She’s proof you can overcome it!
Why do you think talking about infertility and IVF is still so hush-hush? I think throughout our society there is this kind of stigma that to be a real woman you should be fertile and have babies. If we need extra help, somehow we’re less perfect or less of a person. As women, we can’t beat ourselves up about it. That’s why I think it’s important to talk about it.
Did you have infertility issues from the beginning or did you suffer from secondary infertility? I actually had a miscarriage first and it was pretty late on in the pregnancy. After that, it took about 8 or 9 months to get pregnant and then everything went smoothly. But when we were ready to try again, that’s when it became clear that I had a problem. In a nutshell, I never ovulated, and none of the doctors could figure out why. I sort of got bat around quite a lot until I got the right specialist and they discovered the reason why I’d had the late miscarriage, and the reason why I hadn’t been getting pregnant, was I had what they call a septum, which is a piece of tissue that divides the uterus, that can make it difficult for the baby to grow. So they removed that and then they hoped that everything would be fine. It wasn’t—I still couldn’t start ovulating and that’s when you get diagnosed, for me anyway, with “unexplainable infertility”. And that’s when I embarked on the journey of fertility treatments that ranged from taking oral medication to injectables and ultimately IVF.
I’m sure all of that was mentally and emotionally draining for you. Yes, you know, I always thought that because I got married young, and I started trying to have babies young, there would never be an issue. I had been told my whole life about how not to get pregnant that I never even considered, “What if you can’t get pregnant?” So it took a long time to deal with the shock and disbelief that I wasn’t getting pregnant. I blamed myself a lot in the beginning. I felt badly for my husband because there’s nothing wrong with him, and he had married me, and I couldn’t get pregnant when all my friends were getting pregnant. I was very fortunate to be in a relationship where my husband always considered us a team. It was never me by myself, which was really helpful. But you just feel really powerless.
It’s so hard when there’s nothing you can do, and every month you try and do every thing, especially when you’re the type of person I am—when you do all the research and you’ve got all the facts, like you’re supposed to be ovulating here and things are supposed to be happening, and when it’s not happening it’s very frustrating. And then for me the hardest thing was after a few rounds of IVF we actually did get pregnant, but we were pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy [one that occurs outside the womb, which can be life-threatening to the mother]. That was just so hard to finally be pregnant and then not be able to keep the baby. Having a baby is a miracle, and no matter what the modern scientific advances are, you just can’t always plan it, even if on paper it seems like it should work.
How did you and your husband get through it as a couple, when communication can shut down during such a difficult time? The thing that worked for us was humor. There’s really awkward stuff that happens on that road to getting pregnant. If you are going through IUI’s or you’re going through fertility treatment, your husband gets ushered off to a room and is given a whole bunch of porn to choose from, and then makes his sperm donation. That’s kind of weird as a wife… waiting in the waiting room while your husband does that! And everybody else waiting in that room with you is doing the same thing. I am very English and awkward about these things, so my husband would make endless jokes about the type of porn he chose and type of porn the person next to us probably chose, because it the whole scenario was just ridiculous. That humor opened up the conversation for us. If you can talk about that, you can talk about anything! That might not work for everybody, but I think whatever works for you and your relationship, you’ve got to keep doing that through the IVF process. If you really like being romantic, somehow you gotta incorporate that into your romantic life. It’s just important that you don’t stop being you as a couple because this is happening.
What’s the best advice you can give another woman going through this sort of struggle? Don’t get mad at your partner! In the early stages of it, you’re taking a medication like Clomid, to make you ovulate, and you get to the window when you’re ovulating, and you’re husband can’t get home from work early that day, or he’s sick, or has to take a work trip. I would get so angry at my husband when something like that would happen, like he was stopping me from getting pregnant. It’s not his fault. Life still has to go on.
What do you think was the key to you getting pregnant? Aside from the anatomy issues I had, I really think it was reducing my stress. I’m high strung, so for me what really helped was just diving into work and being busy. When I’m busy, I’m more relaxed because I’m distracted. And that wasn’t my tactic to start off with. I thought that I had to take it easy and focus only on getting pregnant, and that for me is a trap. It’s just too much pressure on a person.
How has your latest pregnancy compared with that of your first three children?Each one has been really different. My first was ridiculously easy, and I thought I could do this like a thousand times. My second one, after we had all those problems and finally got pregnant, it was very difficult. I was on bed rest for a pretty good portion of it. My third pregnancy was super easy. With this one, my body is kind of mad at me, and I’m just nauseous all the time!
Do you predict there will be live tweeting through this birth, like your last one? We’ll see. I recommend it! I was very distracted by it instead of just staring at the clock waiting for the birth to happen. I believe your birthing experience should be like the rest of your life. If you’re a busy Blackberry-Tweeting type like me, do that in the delivery room, If you’re not and you’re into yoga and massage, do that. You have to stay true to your personality because it’s only going to get heightened in the delivery room. So trying to make a calm environment with incense and massage for a high-strung person like me is not a good idea!
You told me your biggest fear with this birth is that you’d have the baby on the highway. Why’s that? I live in New Jersey now, but I’m delivering in New York with the doctor who has delivered all of my other babies, and each birth has been drastically quicker. My first took 26 hours; my second was 10 hours; and my third was only 4 hours! So who knows how quick this one could come out!
Hip-hop radio stations and blogs are blowing up with news that Beyoncé is working overtime, having filmed four (yes, four!) music videos in the past two months in order to have the videos—shot in Miami, New York, London and Paris—roll out to promote her upcoming album while she focuses on getting pregnant and taking maternity leave next year. A cootie patootie sibling for Blue Ivy!? Yes, please!
Sure, we’ve heard false Bey pregnancy rumors before, but this could be legit (fingers and toes crossed!). The Queen B is a total professional, and a bit Type-A, so it makes perfect sense that she would want to do the responsible thing and support her album even if she was taking time off for mommy duty part deux.
After all, she told Good Morning America in May: “I would like more children. I think my daughter needs some company. I definitely love being a big sister. At some point, when it’s supposed to happen [it will],” the Grammy-winning singer said with a smile. So it sounds like it’s supposed to happen next year!
She also shared in her HBO documentary, Beyoncé: Life is But a Dream just how much she loved being pregnant, describing it as “falling in love.” “You are so open,” she said. “You are so overjoyed. There are no words that can express having a baby growing inside of you.”
But Mrs. Carter hasn’t had the easiest road to motherhood. She famously revealed in the same doc that she had a miscarriage before having daughter Blue Ivy. “I was pregnant for the first time, and I heard the heartbeat, which was the most beautiful music I ever heard in my life,” she said. “I picked out names. I envisioned what my child would look like, I was feeling very maternal.”
Then she flew back to New York to get a check up, and “no heartbeat,” she said. “Literally the week before I went to the doctor, everything was fine…it was the saddest thing I’ve ever been through.” She explains that’s why she was so hush-hush about her second pregnancy with Blue Ivy, “because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
I really hope for Beyoncé and Jay-Z that this news is true (for once!), because they both seem like the most doting parents on the planet, and Baby B would make such an adorable big sis.
TELL US: Do you think it’s true Beyoncé is getting ahead with work so she can take maternity leave next year?
As if you don’t have enough things to worry about when you’re pregnant, now there’s another one to add to the list! Pregnant women are being warned to avoid eating canned foods and foods microwaved in plastic containers, as well as drinking from water bottles left out in the sun, because according to new findings from Stanford University, high levels of BPA (short for bisphenol-A), a chemical in many plastics and canned food linings, can increase the risk of miscarriage in women who are already prone to miscarriages, or otherwise have had trouble getting pregnant (approximately 500,000 miscarriages occur a year within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy).
The findings—which were presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual conference in Boston—came from researchers who studied 115 newly pregnant women with a history of infertility or miscarriage. They analyzed blood samples from the early stages of when the women were discovered to be pregnant and divided them into four groups based on BPA levels. Women in the top quarter had an 80 percent greater risk of miscarriage compared to those in the bottom group, even though they were similar in age and other factors. Most miscarriages are due to egg or chromosome issues and another study conducted on mice suggested BPA might influence that risk.
While researchers agree that the small study is not enough to prove a direct link, they say it adds to the “biological plausibility” that BPA might affect fertility and other aspects of health. BPA, which has already been removed from baby bottles, is impossible to avoid, but they advised pregnant women to avoid cooking or warming foods in plastic containers, as chemicals leak far more quickly at higher temperatures, avoid letting plastic bottles of drinks get warm in the sun (studies show that levels of BPA increase by about 1000-fold in the water of a bottle that has been sitting in the sun), and handling cash register receipts, which often are coated with resins that contain BPA. The same advice was issued to men whose partners are trying to conceive, after separate research found that the presence of similar chemicals found in the same plastics appeared to reduce male fertility by 20 percent.
While there’s no need for widespread panic, it is food for thought. If they’ve already removed BPA from baby bottles and many children’s toys, then why not limit any BPA-exposure while you’re pregnant too? Better safe than sorry when you’re talking about your future baby, right? For more on BPA-related news and it’s possible links to other dangers, read this, this and this.
TELL US: Will you try to go BPA-free after hearing about this study?
Get more info on the link between BPA and your miscarriage risk here.
When you’re pregnant, your OB tells you all of the things that you can’t eat—and soft, unpasteurized cheeses are right at the top of the list. As my doctor was running down the list of noshing no-nos, I wondered, How bad could cheese really be for you? But being the goody-goody, by-the-books type I would never break the rules if it could possibly harm my little peanut. So I said buh-bye to my beloved Brie, Feta and Queso Fresco.
Now after reading this horrifying piece in The Daily Mail, I’m so glad I didn’t take the risk. Twenty-five-year-old mom-to-be Vanessa White from Las Vegas is thought to have contracted tuberculosis after eating unpasteurized cheese from abroad, which caused her to go into premature labor. And now for the really sad news: She and both of her daughters ended up dying. Because. Of. Cheese!
How could someone die from dairy? It sounds impossible, mind-blowing even. Well, it truly is dangerous. Unpasteurized soft cheeses may contain dangerous bacteria including the one that can cause fatal tuberculosis, and another one called Listeria, which can cross over into the placenta and lead to infections or blood poisoning in the baby, or even miscarriage.
If you don’t know much about listeria, get educated now! According to the FDA, symptoms of Listeriosis can take days or even weeks to appear and may include fever, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck, and loss of balance. Often the pregnant women who are infected don’t even feel sick, so they are passing the infection on to their unborn babies without even knowing it.
While Listeriosis is still pretty rare in the US (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1600 illnesses and 260 deaths occur annually in the US due to Listeriosis), the sad fact is that it really does happen, and it wouldn’t seem all that “rare” or “unlikely” if it happened to you or one of your loved ones. Plus? Research has shown that pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get Listeriosis than other healthy adults, and an estimated 14 percent of Listeria cases occur in pregnant women.
No matter how fantastic a creamy cheese is (and, boy, do I love ‘em!), it’s obviously not worth risking yours or your baby’s life over. But after the baby’s born, you can let loose and fill those cravings with a much-deserved girls’ wine and cheese night!
TELL US: What is the hardest food or drink for you to give up while pregnant?