The CDC released guidelines this week warning women that no amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe and cautioning them to abstain from alcohol completely during pregnancy. They further went on to acknowledge that many pregnancies are unplanned and women may not know they’re pregnant for many weeks or months.
Alcohol use during pregnancy, even within the first few weeks and before a woman knows she is pregnant, can cause lasting physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that can last for a child’s lifetime. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). There is no known safe amount of alcohol – even beer or wine – that is safe for a woman to drink at any stage of pregnancy. (CDC – Feb 2, 2016)
Because of the permanent and lifelong damage that alcohol can do to an unborn child, the CDC recommended that women who drink alcohol consider using birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancy or that they abstain from drinking completely if they are trying to become pregnant. Basically, if you like to drink, occasionally or often, and aren’t planning on having children anytime soon, maybe you should use birth control. Because, let’s face it, sex can happen and being prepared is nice. And, if you’re at all thinking of becoming pregnant, don’t drink. Seems pretty common sense, doesn’t it?
Apparently not and women are outraged. What. The. Hell.
Before I continue and I start getting hate mail from people who think I’m some kind of right wing militant or left wing nut job let me state the following:
I like alcohol. Not for breakfast or anything like that but on lots of other occasions. I love a good wine paired with tasty food. I love the wine and food show. I love a crisp Pinot Grigio and….Okay. I just love wine. I also love a cold beer on a hot day. And I like a little bit of bourbon at Christmas because, well, relatives. But as a mother, I didn’t drink while I was pregnant and sometimes that sucked. I suffered through hot summer days, boring staff parties, and awful relatives over the holidays without the handy go to of wine as a social lubricant. So I totally get it.
Now that the disclaimer is over….
I was pretty freaked out by the outrage of all the women who think that controlling their bodies is more important than permanently brain damaging a child. However, once I read all the comments and articles, I understood things a little better. Mostly because it appeared to me that these thoughts seem to be coming from some very self-absorbed and entitled young women who appear have been raised to believe that everyone wins, self-esteem is everything, and they can do anything they want because they’re so special. #noyourenot
No one summed up the air of entitlement quite like Ruth Graham, who in her diatribe against the CDC wrote, “It’s the kind of swath-yourself-in-bubble-wrap thinking that has turned modern pregnancy into a nine-month slog of joyless paranoia.”
About that. I’m going to go out on a limb here and tell these silly girls that pregnancy, at least for many, is kind of awful at the best of times. Booze isn’t going to make that better and brain damaging your child so you can feel better about your crazy, hormonal, and rapidly expanding body isn’t really going to change that into something more joyful. Pregnancy is the beginning of this thing called parenting and it requires you to care about someone other than yourself. That’s kind of a big deal. If you’re really not into taking care of other people, maybe pregnancy and parenting isn’t for you and there is nothing wrong with that.
I gained 70 pounds during my first pregnancy, peed when I sneezed, and gave birth to a 10 pound baby after 38 hours of labor. The second one wasn’t much better. No amount of liquor was going to make that any prettier.
What’s really freaking me out however, is the women who seem to genuinely believe that alcohol “in moderation” isn’t a big deal. Where in the hell are they getting this nonsense and why are they willing to risk the safety and health of their child by believing it?
And then I saw it. An economist wrote a book about pregnancy. How interesting. So now women, who don’t want to give up the booze for nine months, have been able to turn to new “experts” like Emily Oster, who is, yes, an economist. She wrote a book telling women not to worry about alcohol or caffeine or other silly things like that since there is no real evidence that “small amounts of alcohol” actually cause any harm to the developing baby. I was worried that she didn’t have a background in neurology or neonatology and maybe wasn’t an authority who should be giving advice to pregnant women. But she’s an economist so that’s cool. Whew! Glad we cleared that up.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is the go to authority for, well, everything disease control and prevention. We take their word on things like the Zika Virus and Ebola, but when it comes to pregnancy, babies, and permanent brain damage, I’m sure we can trust the wisdom of one economist and the women who want to drink during pregnancy when they scream that the CDC doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You know because women should control their bodies and have wine and all.
So go ahead and rely on that economist and other egocentric and hedonistic women who aren’t willing to go nine months without alcohol. Makes total sense when you take a good look at the objectives of both groups. I got the objectives about the CDC from their website and the objectives from those that don’t agree from their various articles and comments. Because I’m pretty sure if they put their objectives out there so blatantly, they’d feel a little ridiculous.
Some final thoughts for those that want to believe that their babies are or will be “just fine” even though they drank during their pregnancies…
Years down the road, long after smugly telling their friends they consumed the “occasional” glass of wine during pregnancy and people are over reacting to the whole abstinence from alcohol thing, they’re going to wonder why their kids struggle in school. Because sometimes we don’t see symptoms until the children are established in school and teachers have expectations about learning and behavior. Maybe the child will struggle with math or reading or have problems with memory. Or they won’t be able to sit still and can’t pay attention in class.
Those kids are going to start getting assessed and diagnosed with things like ADHD, ODD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and a variety of learning disabilities. Sometimes parents will decide the children are “special”, like too special to be in a school environment, and need to learn differently because regular school isn’t working for their child. Because that’s what happens to many children born to women who drank “lightly” or “moderately”. Mother isn’t going to acknowledge that she was wrong about her “light drinking” and that what her child really has is an alcohol related neurological disorder. Which is just a fancy way of saying FASD without the obvious facial features and low birth weight. And the child will be misdiagnosed and set up for a life time of expectations that he can’t begin to meet. He’ll be medicated for his ADHD which won’t work since he doesn’t have ADHD. He’ll be given behavior programs which he won’t understand since his FASD means he doesn’t get cause and effect and he’ll continue to fail. Because his mom wanted to have “an occasional drink” and an economist and some other cool moms said it was fine.
For those of you that still don’t believe me, feel free to stop by and meet my boys. They love company even though it completely winds them up and totally disregulates them. For days on end. Their birth mother drank before knowing she was pregnant for one child, and claims to have consumed hardly any alcohol during the second pregnancy. You’re more than welcome to come and spend the day because quite frankly I could use the break. The boys both have FASD and they are both significantly disabled in many ways. Most of their disabilities aren’t visible unless you spend large quantities of time with them. Which means they’re going to suffer for the rest of their lives with their invisible brain damage while the world around them expects far more than they will ever be capable of doing.
Still don’t believe me? Feel free to browse my other articles about FASD because we’re the real deal. Keep going with your research and you’ll learn how you’re probably going to spend the rest of your child’s life taking him or her to occupational therapy, to physiotherapists, social workers, sensory processing therapy and speech therapists. And the joys of the school age child with FASD? I hope you like regular parent teacher conferences where you hear all the things your kid can’t do as well as the other kids. How he can’t sit or learn or gets really silly and is in trouble pretty much all the time. He’ll especially feel good about himself when he figures that part out. Kids with FASD have pretty bad self-esteem once they notice they’re not like everyone else. Or, you know. you could just pour a drink and cross your fingers.
Still thinking about drinking during pregnancy? You might need to get that checked.