Drinking is not known to mix with pregnancy. There are even signs in restaurants, bars, and grocery stores warning women that they shouldn’t drink while they’re pregnant. Drinking heavily while pregnant is known to cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) as well as other birth defects, but what about a few drinks now and then?

When they were pregnant, my sisters were divided on this issue. My oldest sister was really nervous when she got pregnant and immediately stopped drinking alcohol and caffeinated coffee, but my younger sister would have a beer every once in a while during her first trimester.

The reason why so many women have trouble deciding if light drinking is permissible during pregnancy is that it’s different for every woman. Because of this, doctors don’t have a safe amount they can recommend to women because some women have higher levels of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol.

David Garry, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and chair of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Task Force for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that “If a pregnant woman with low levels of this enzyme, her baby may be more susceptible to harm because the alcohol may circulate in her body for a longer period of time.”

The CDC, the U.S. Surgeon General, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all advice against drinking while pregnant. If you’re worried about the effects of even a little bit of alcohol on your baby, then it’s probably bets that you refrain from alcohol for the whole duration of your pregnancy. If you’ve made up your mind that a few drinks won’t hurt here and there, then it’s your choice to make. The largely unknown effects of light drinking during pregnancy makes the choice to have a glass of wine or a beer once in a while is a difficult one to make for some women.

Though one of my sisters chose to drink occasionally during her pregnancy, my niece has never shown any ill effects and by her doctor’s account, she’s perfectly healthy. However, that doesn’t mean that will be true for you. If you’re still unsure whether or not light drinking during pregnancy poses real risks for you and your baby, then talk to your doctor about your options. Though, if you’re really worried about it, then perhaps the best option is for you to just stay away from alcohol entirely during your pregnancy.

Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal (2013, June 17). Moderate drinking during pregnancy does not seem to harm baby's neurodevelopment, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 5, 2013.

Day News. (2012, June 20). 'Moderate' Drinking During Pregnancy Has No Effect on Young Children: Study. Current Health News | Latest | Consumer.