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Pregnancy health

Can Pregnant Women Drink Wine?

The glass is half empty on this one.

By Courtney Leiva
Can Pregnant Women Drink Wine?

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Wine and pregnancy are a complicated duo, indeed. On one hand, you might be thinking, what's the harm in one glass of wine during pregnancy? But on the other hand, you might be wondering if there are some serious risks involved.

So, if you wondering what is the answer to the age-old question, can pregnant women drink wine question? No biggie! We dive deep into this topic and, with the help of two dietitians, answer all your burning questions about drinking while pregnant.

Can pregnant women drink wine?

Despite the varying information out there, the safest and most universal answer to this question is that no amount of alcohol has been deemed safe during pregnancy, says registered Dietitian Mia Syn, MS, RDN. "The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Pregnancy Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics all note that no amount of wine during pregnancy is deemed safe and that consuming wine while pregnant should be avoided."

That means even a small glass of wine exposes the baby to alcohol, which Syn says can be harmful. "Study after study suggests that any alcohol use during pregnancy can increase the risk of premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)," she adds.

There is also an increased risk that your unborn baby will develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) if you drink alcohol during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is a group of disorders associated with a variety of symptoms, including low birth weight, learning disabilities, and impaired executive functioning.

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a form of FASD that occurs in an unborn baby who was exposed to alcohol before birth,  according to the National Institutes of Health, and is associated with brain damage and growth problems.

bottle of red wine sitting on a table with a full glass beside it iStock

What is the best kind of wine for a pregnant woman?

Unfortunately, there is no known safe way to consume alcohol during pregnancy, so it's best to avoid it altogether, says Syn. "All types of alcohol (including all wines and beer) are equally harmful, and drinking while pregnant can increase your unborn baby's risk for birth defects and FASDs."

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However, there are plenty of great non-alcoholic wines if you enjoy the social aspect of wine drinking.

"Non-alcoholic wines like Fre are a great option for anyone pregnant," suggests registered dietitian Alyssa Pacheo, RD. "There are white, red, and sparkling varieties to choose from that are packed with flavor," she says.

What are good alternatives to wine for a pregnant woman?

We can't say it enough: alcohol consumption during pregnancy at any stage (even early in pregnancy) is a huge no-no. However, there are great non-alcoholic alternatives for pregnant women to enjoy in place of wine, and here are some mouth-watering ideas that'll have your tastebuds jumping for joy.

  • Mocktails: "While they have all the delicious ingredients of your favorite cocktails, mocktails do not contain any alcohol, whatsoever," says Syn. Try making all your favorite recipes at home by using ingredients like fruit juices, sparkling water, and/or simple syrup.
  • Sparkling water or Tonic: Seltzer is like a party in a glass, with all those little bubbles dancing around and making it even more fun to drink. And, you guessed it: seltzer is pregnancy safe, and to easily add flavor to your glass, Syn recommends adding lemon and or lime.
  • Non-Alcoholic Wines and Beer: There are great alcohol-free wines, spirits and beers options out there. However, while non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks can be enjoyed as a healthier alternative to full-alcohol drinks, it's still important to drink them in moderation due to their sugar content.
  • Prebiotic Sodas: "These are another great option - pour it into a wine glass to feel a little fancier," says Pacheo. "They come in all sorts of flavors and the prebiotics help stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut."
fancy grapefruit mocktail on a table with rosemary and slices of grapefruit next to it iStock

FAQs

Will one glass of wine hurt my baby?

An occasional glass of wine may sound tempting, but when it comes to pregnancy, it's always better to be safe than sorry. "There is no amount of alcohol that's considered safe when pregnant," says Pacheo. "The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists even points out that even moderate alcohol consumption (one glass a day) can pose a health risk to an unborn baby, so wine is best avoided during pregnancy."

Can I have wine in cooking while pregnant?

Cooking with wine can be a fun and flavorful experience, but if you're expecting, you may be wondering if it's safe for your baby.  Thankfully, the safety risk is minimal because cooking wines contain very small amounts of alcohol and less, according to Pacheo.

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"Using wine in your cooking is considered safe since the alcohol content of the wine is drastically reduced or eliminated during the cooking process," she tells Today's Parent.

What happens if I drank wine without knowing I was pregnant?

You know what they always say: accidents are bound to happen in life. So, don't be too hard on yourself if you accidentally drink wine without knowing you're pregnant, says Pacheo. "If you drank wine without knowing you were pregnant, serious harm to the baby is unlikely, " she explains. "If, however, you have concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor."

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