I am often asked, “How did you do it?”
I work in the wine industry. I am a wine writer and a wine lover, However, honestly, until you start carrying a life inside you, you won’t understand this problematic situation. Yes, it was initially hard to stare at those beautiful wines and pine over how delicious they must taste. The good thing is that you can taste them—just that you just can’t imbibe them.
Most recently on NPR (National Public Radio), I heard the latest findings from the American Academy of Pediatrics stating that pediatricians say that women absolutely should not drink while pregnant. While I can agree with this determination, there were so many studies before this stating that moderate to minimal drinking has been proven not to cause any cognitive disabilities.
How to process this information? One thing to consider is that the baby you are carrying is so tiny, as are its developing organs.. Therefore, that baby’s tiny liver can’t handle the same amount of alcohol that you can. If you start to feel the effect of the alcohol, then the baby is most certainly feeling it. With this in mind, I have abstained from drinking wine on a regular basis.
It is easily avoidable to consume any alcohol during pregnancy because it is a choice all of us make for ourselves all the time. As I work in the industry, I simply taste and spit, and while I may consume a bit of what is left over in my mouth, it is quite minimal. All in all, I have perhaps consumed one glass of wine during my entire pregnancy up to now.
It is also recommended by doctors that especially you should not drink at all during your first and second trimesters (up to 27 to 28 weeks) since this is when the baby is still developing all of its vital organs. A 2013 study found that there is abundant evidence that binge-drinking while pregnant is harmful. It found that drinking in the first trimester increases the risk of symptoms such as wider range of intellectual and physical disabilities by 12 times; drinking in first and second trimesters increased risk 61 times; and drinking throughout pregnancy increased it 65 times.
All in all, there are ways around drinking alcohol, and I would like to share these with my readers. This is how I did it.
- Sometimes simply having something in your hands while everyone else does is all you need. I have also often replaced my beautiful Riedel glasses of wine with a Riedel filled with the following:
- Soda Water: You can either buy a soda machine such as a SodaStream, or you can simply pick up seltzer water at the store. The only issue with a SodaStream machine is the need to buy the cartridges, which I replace every two months or so according to the amount of water I drink. I also often add a few ounces of orange, grapefruit, or pomegranate juice to a large glass of soda water and enjoy. This is my go-to drink at night, and honestly, after a while, you won’t even notice you aren’t drinking alcohol.
- Non-alcoholic/ Virgin drinks: When going out with friends or at restaurants, haven’t you always wanted to try some of those exotic sounding drinks that at $3-$6 seemed too expensive as a non-alcoholic option? Normally, you would have opted,perhaps more economically, for a glass of wine instead, but now, well, you can justify it…you’re pregnant and have no choice! If there aren’t any obvious non-alcoholic drinks on the menu, just ask the bartender or waiter if they can make them “virgin” (non-alcoholic) for you. Most of the time they can. I’ve found some delicious drinks this way, and I can still enjoy a great Bloody Mary or Mimosa sans the alcohol with my friends at breakfast.
- Smoothies and Juices: I got a Vitamix super-blender just before I got pregnant, or rather, it was gifted to me by my mother, who stated it would be indispensable when I needed to make soups, baby food, etc. I use this a few times a week to make sorbet, smoothies, and soups. It’s fast and easy to clean, and you know exactly what goes into your food. Nevertheless, be careful, as an 8-oz. smoothie can be the equivalent of 300 calories, which is technically all you need in extra calories for that tiny baby, so make it a power smoothie with superfood veggies and fruit. I’ve found some incredible recipes on Pinterest for smoothies—check them out here.
In conclusion, you can and should replace alcohol as much as possible during your pregnancy with non-alcoholic drinks. At first I didn’t think this would be possible, but now, at 7 months into my pregnancy, I have realized that an expectant mom can completely do this and should do this, if not for your own health, then for that of the baby. Think of it as a 9- (really 10-) month cleanse for your liver—admittedly longer, though, if you plan to breastfeed. Feel free to email me any comments or ideas you might have as well. I’d love to add them to this list.