Help me stop worrying about drinking wine before I knew I was pregnant!
July 22, 2013 2:58 PM   Subscribe

How can I stop worrying about drinks I had before I knew I was pregnant? And more . . .

TLDR: Can you reassure me about "bad behavior" in early pregnancy and keep me from stressing so much?

Hi all -- please help me feel better! My husband and I have been trying for a baby for a long year and a half, including about a year of fertility treatments. We had a sad early miscarriage and a failed IUI right before we had a long summer away in Europe planned. (Working over here, but still, wonderful!) Our doctor said we'd try IVF in the fall.

Exhausted by the whole fertility process, we decided to just take the summer off trying for a baby, take advantage of our childless times, and just recoup so we could be ready for the intensity of IVF in the fall. So I dropped (most) of my fertility practices. Didn't track my periods, ate what I wanted (had been following a strict diet), no ovulation sticks, didn't even have that much sex unless we felt like it. And yes, I had a few glasses of wine -- about two glasses of red at a party, and one glass of Prosecco on a really nice summer night.

Well, lo and behold, I had some weird but obvious symptoms, took a pregnancy test, and voila, after all this time, here I am pregnant on my own. That awful advice about "stopping trying" that made me want to tear my hair out actually worked for us. Very, very surprising, because I rarely ovulate on my own.

Anyway, rather than being thrilled, I am now absolutely terrified that my "bad" behavior has hurt my (maybe) future child. I hadn't drank for over a year before having a few glasses of wine. The wine I had was all around the time of conception, to about a week or two afterward (as far as I can tell, not having tracked.) I am now obsessed with this, and can't stop thinking about how careful I was for a year and a half and here I go messing it up.

My husband is so excited (cautiously -- we know what miscarriage is like), and he says that my drinking wine, not stressing about eating kale, not obsessing, etc. is what got us our success. So he says rather than regretting the wine, I should be happy about it! We're just like a million of other couples who are pleasantly surprised by a pregnancy that wasn't, in some sense, "planned," and many of them hadn't followed the "pregnant until proven otherwise" advice our fertility doctors give. This has some logic to it, but I'm still worried that I've messed everything up :(.

We're headed home in a little over a week, and I already have a doctor's appointment then. Till then, can anyone give me some (reassuring?) advice/anecdotes?

(And bonus points for telling me how to deal with this continued anxiety about "messing up." I am now also freaking out about the unavoidable amounts of second-hand smoke here in Europe, the goat's cheese that's snuck into all of my food, whether the tap water here is good enough, etc.)

Anonymous because people on mefi know me, and I don't want anyone to know I'm pregnant yet.
Throwaway email:

Thanks :).
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (57 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Three glasses of wine is *nothing*. See studies like this one.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:01 PM on July 22, 2013 [27 favorites]

People used to drink and smoke and so on all through pregnancy. And babies were mostly just fine. Frankly, there are a lot more allergies and stuff in infants than there used to be. So, yeah, don't worry about it ever again. Everything is fine. A couple glasses of wine is less than nothing. Even addressing it as less than nothing overstates the importance.
posted by Justinian at 3:14 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

The year is 2013. Think about how many centuries of wine drinking have passed before it even occurred to anyone to not drink while pregnant.

The fact that you're this worried makes me think you're going to be an awesome parent - at least, compared to my parents! I wish you the best of luck, but really, I doubt you'll need it. You're probably going to be an amazing parent.

posted by 2oh1 at 3:16 PM on July 22, 2013

Bear in mind that humans have been making other humans for a very long time. It is only very recently that we have also been making parenting magazines. The species managed to continue just fine.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:16 PM on July 22, 2013 [16 favorites]

I'm not a medical doctor and I don't study alcohol. That said, I am in a public health field and work with folks who know this stuff inside out and upside down. And what I've learned, from studies like the one discussed in the article tylerkaraszewski links to, is that science can't identify the threshold at which alcohol becomes a problem for the developing fetus, and this drives the public health messaging to be very conservative. Some drinking is probably ok, but scientists can't say how much, and it most likely varies from woman to woman and baby to baby, so the message that is easiest to give and easiest to follow is "don't drink while pregnant."

I'm not saying you should go on a bender every night. But 3 drinks on two different occasions is nothing to worry about.
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:17 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

I am not pregnant (yet) (that I know of), but I just picked up a copy of The Panic-Free Pregnancy following its recommendation in my recent thread about conception.

I thumbed through the pre-pregnancy chapter this morning, actually, and it contained exactly these questions. It looked very reassuring. And my psychiatrist, who is treating me for low-level anxiety and a history of anxiety-related stress, gave it two Xanaxes up :)
posted by Madamina at 3:18 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

You and us all! A lot, A LOT of babies get conceived on nights when momma was very drunk or had a few drinks.

A few glasses of wine is nothing to worry about, also, you probably consumed them even before the embryo (or whatever it's called at that point) was properly implanted and so connected to your blood supply.

For an anecdote: when I was trying to conceive I grew tired after a few months and one month decided to take a break from the no-alcohol-no-smoking-good-nutrition thing and of course that was the month I got pregnant with my now perfectly healthy 16 month old.

Enjoy every day of being pregnant. I too know about miscarriage. It sucks. Three glassses of wine do not, in almost certainty, cause miscarriage.

Congratulations on the pregnancy!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:18 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ancedoctally, SO many women have done exactly this. Think of all the women in the world who accidentally got pregnant! Many many MANY MANY of these people drank between getting knocked up and knowing they were knocked up. I remember seeing Brooke Shields on the View (I think) saying that this exact thing happened to her and she freaked out and she and the baby were fine. I can think of at least three friends of mine who had wine before they realized they were pregnant, and all three babies are fine. Three glasses of wine total is nothing; you didn't go on a crank binge. And, practically, you can't undrink the wine. So go forth and "behave" and don't worry.

As for all the second-hand smoke, goat cheese and whatnot, I totally understand what you're worried about but look around the next time you go out and I bet you'll see a ton of healthy little European babies. The European mamas come through it okay and so will you!

posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:20 PM on July 22, 2013

As for this part:

And bonus points for telling me how to deal with this continued anxiety about "messing up."

Realize that the vast majority of things they say you're "supposed to" do during pregnancy are more in the nature of precautions and guidelines than hard, strict rules. For instance, with raw-milk cheese or undercooked meat, these are pretty unlikely to make you sick in any event; it's just that if you DO get sick from these things when you're pregnant, it could have negative impacts on the baby. Like if you catch Listeria from raw milk cheese, you could miscarry. But remember all the times you got sick with Listeria before you were pregnant? No. It rarely ever happens. Obviously when the consequences are so high you still want to reduce risk, but think of it as making very unlikely events even more unlikely - don't think of it as having to constantly dodge near-certain fetal damage.

Also recognize that there are people all across the world, in medically-advanced, first-world countries, who follow different guidelines and their kids come out just fine. For instance, as to the water being OK in Europe... all the European people drink it, and if anything they have better infant mortality and birth defect rates than we have in the US.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:21 PM on July 22, 2013 [8 favorites]

At the risk of a child protective service type issue being triggered I won't go into details; let's just say I have firsthand experience, several times over, actually--including many of the same fertility issues as you--that this is okay. Don't let the crazies tell you drinking's bad--as I've said before on AskMe, those warnings on everything are for the teenage moms-to-be who go 2 da club w babby lol n drink all nite nomesayin. All things in moderation, momma.
posted by resurrexit at 3:24 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm certain that my mom - pregnant as she was in the mid-60s - did not cut out all alcohol and nicotine during her pregnancy. Cut down, maybe? But did not stop. And neither did many, many other pregnant, educated, middle-class-ish women at the time.

I lived in France for a while after I finished college (see? turned out okay enough to do that!) and saw pregnant women every day having a glass of wine, or shopping for cheeses. If *any* amount of alcohol and *any* amount of raw-milk cheese was assured to create bad outcomes for fetuses, we as a species would not have lasted very long.
posted by rtha at 3:25 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Came back to add, I'm pregnant with baby #2 right now, eight weeks. Feel free to memail me if you could use a pregnancy buddy.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:26 PM on July 22, 2013

Aside from the article linked above, anecdatally I can say that I've known people who had way more to drink than you and ended up with healthy pregnancies and babies. I drank about the same as you, and my son was born healthy. That amount of alcohol is, I think, almost negligible.

As for dealing with the anxiety about messing up, I can say what worked for me, a total catastrophizer.

1) I read about healthy eating and ways to take care of yourself during pregnancy. I'm sure you're already well versed with most of that info, as was I. But it still served as reassurance that I was on the right path and did learn a couple of things along the way. One being that a lot of these DONT EAT THAT warnings are not because one bite will kill you, but because on the off chance that you get sick from them, it could potentially be bad.

2) That second hand smoke and other bits of stuff you're not supposed to get - keep in mind that there are lots and lots of people who get this stuff in much bigger quantities than you, and, again, are okay. Do what you can to minimize your exposure, but also remember that constant stressing about it is likely to be more damaging. If the water makes you nervous, and carrying around watered bottle everywhere makes you feel better, then do it. Keep in mind that small exposures are inevitable and unlikely to harm you.

3) However, don't just read anything and everything that's pregnancy-related because that's 1) information overload and 2) likely to expose you to enough contradictory info to drive you crazy. My pregnancy book was the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy because it was clearly written and very balanced. Nothing about it really induced anxiety for me. It also has tables that spell out some common issues you face at each stage, and whether you can wait to see a dr or consider it an emergency. That was really, really nice to have. I also got a cookbook geared towards pregnancy, just to augment my knowledge of nutrition and focus it on pregnancy.

4) Really make self-care a focus during your pregnancy. Relax , avoid stress, participate in your hobbies or any activity that makes you relaxed. I think worry and anxiety are, frankly, to some degree inevitable during pregnancy -- but it is manageable so it's really important that you take care of yourself and put your physical and mental health first.

It took us a long time to get pregnant too, so I know you guys must be over the moon right now! Enjoy every minute of your pregnancy - it has its challenges, fore sure, but it's such a wonderful experience!
posted by DrGirlfriend at 3:28 PM on July 22, 2013

I did a wine tasting the night before I found out I was pregnant. I had more than a couple glasses of wine. I had a few sips of port in Portugal when I was 4 1/2 month pregnant, and a few other sips here and there. Other than that, I ate healthy, exercised, and my mantra was, "I am a calm vessel." That stood me well through a crazy boss, crazy work schedule, any other external issues that might get in the way of me enjoying the amazing experience of growing a human being. Enjoy the ride, don't stress, and best of luck to you on your pregnancy and your baby.
posted by ms_rasclark at 3:29 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Honey, you have not messed ANYTHING up with three glasses of wine and a bunch of kale, let alone everything. Seriously, a huge percentage of babies are dropped in wombs by the Cocktail Stork. You are doing it right!

I am now also freaking out about the unavoidable amounts of second-hand smoke here in Europe, whether the tap water here is good enough, etc.

Women in Europe breathe that air and drink that water and do not have a higher miscarriage or birth defect rate than women in the US.

The chances of contracting Listeria from goat cheese are very, very small. More women than you would guess choose to ignore the "Do/Do Not Eat" lists and are fine.

In terms of avoiding anxiety, I'd point out that anxiety in pregnancy, particularly early pregnancy when you know the risk of miscarriage is higher, is totally 100% normal. But in addition to that, do not for a single second discount the stress and trauma of infertility, miscarriage and failed IUI. That is going to make it worse because you've had so many opportunities to feel like you've failed and it's your fault. Infertility is a complete bastard that way. So when you start obsessing about how you've already failed at this pregnancy, remind yourself that is your Infertility Failure Brain talking and tell it to shut the fuck up.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:30 PM on July 22, 2013 [10 favorites]

When my grandmother, an old Greek yiayia, was pregnant with my father, she drank about four or five beers a day because she "had a craving." My father graduated as seventh in his engineering class at a quite prestigious and large New England college. Whenever he brings up the fact that she drank beer the entire time she was pregnant with him, we joke that if she hasn't, he would have been an Einstein. :) People drank alcohol during pregnancy for years and years before they knew it wasn't perhaps The Best beverage for that stage in life, so three drinks are not even worth worrying about.

When I was pregnant with my first, probably less than two weeks after conception, my husband and I went to a friend's "Scotchtemberfest" where I consumed an entire glass of scotch (neat), ana glass or two of wine. Nine months and a little extra later, my kiddo emerged completely unscathed by my unknowing drink consumption. She's four and healthier and smarter than I'll ever be. Take a nice deep breath, put this out of your mind as best you can, and enjoy your pregnancy. :) If this is the least healthy thing you have done during pregnancy, you are doing Just Awesome and much, much better than 90% of the pregnant population. :)
posted by takoukla at 3:32 PM on July 22, 2013

First of all, congratulations and best wishes for a healthy, happy pregnancy and baby!

I have been in your shoes (trying to get pregnant, fertility work, fastidiously tracking everything, avoiding everything under the sun) so I empathize. What I have come to realize is that the long period of trying to conceive and experiencing infertility has messed with my head. The more time that passes, the more obsessive and irrational I've become. I've experienced quite a bit of magical thinking over the last couple of years ("If I do this/don't do this, maybe I'll get pregnant this time").

It is very hard, but try to step back and think about this logically. There have been studies showing that FASD is caused by heavy, habitual drinking, not the occasional glass of wine here and there. Yes, doctors say they don't know the amount of alcohol that can harm a fetus, so they err on the side of "no amount is safe." But many, many, many women have been in your position--and the amount of alcohol you had is very little, really.

And a reassuring anecdote, since you asked for those too: a friend of mine recently told me that before she knew she was pregnant with her baby, she sat for hours in a hot tub and drank a bunch of wine at a party, both things you're not supposed to do if you're pregnant. But she didn't know at the time. She stopped doing those things once she knew, but the early hottubbing and wine drinking didn't hurt her baby at all, who is happy, healthy, and nearly a year old.

On preview: exactly what DarlingBri said about how infertility is traumatic and stressful. Infertility Failure Brain is a good term!
posted by Secret Sockdentity at 3:34 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't worry, as many others have said, centuries of women drinking moderately during pregnancy have had healthy babies. Talk to some older moms like me, nobody told us not to drink at all, and most of us had a few drinks like you did, especially before we knew we were pregnant. I had four very healthy babies, no complications. They were born in the 60s, 70s, and the youngest in 1980, just before paranoia and fear of lawsuits exploded into warnings about just about everything.

The horrors of fetal alcohol syndrome happen to out of control alcoholics who drink excessively all through pregnancy, not moms like you who had a glass or two of wine.

Years ago they did not scare us about everything, and common sense and general good health go a long way to ensure a healthy baby. Just keep telling yourself all will be well, as it has been for countless moms before you.
posted by mermayd at 3:36 PM on July 22, 2013

Came in to suggest The Panic Free Pregnancy and I see that Madamina beat me to it!

If it makes you feel any better, I got rip-roaringly drunk at one week pregnant. Picked a fight with my husband. During the tear-stained aftermath, my husband pointed out how moody I'd been. This was my first pregnancy symptom. I recently told my midwife about this, and she found it funny, not at all concerning.

Other things my midwives have told me not to worry about: eating lox; having a piece of high quality sushi or brie here and there, as part of a varied and nutritious diet; having a daily coffee to keep me from wanting to die. The things she's been concerned about have been getting enough iron and Vitamin D, and that's only because my symptoms and blood tests revealed that I was deficient in both. And drinking enough water. If it's an option in your area, and the right choice for you and your partner, I'd really recommend midwifery care. Every single appointment we have is over an hour in length--plenty of time to ask every single stupid question that comes to mind. Even if it's, like, "Can I please put some lox on my bagel?"

Also, welcome to the pregnant mefite club! Feel free to drop me a MeMail if you need some support or company.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:45 PM on July 22, 2013

Everybody who had children before, say, 1970, did not take the precautions you're stressing about. This includes the parents of Einstein, Ramanujan, Beethoven, Nightingale, Oppenheimer, Shelley, Picasso, Douglass, etc.
posted by rhizome at 3:45 PM on July 22, 2013 [8 favorites]

I too drank (couple glasses of scotch) before I knew I was pregnant. The baby is now 17 years old, has a 4.0 grade average in high school. This coming school year he will be a senior in advanced placement classes and will be earning 3 college credits. He is an excellent athlete and very healthy!

Don't worry about it! Congratulations!!!
posted by JujuB at 3:49 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Plus, IIRC from grad school, the majority of the bits of brain development affected by alcohol occur in the late first or early-mid second trimester. So that's actually the highest risk time to drink.

Plus, a few drinks is nothing. As said above, the message in the US is very very conservative because the exact dose of alcohol that's problematic is variable and can't really be pinned down.

To show how culture affects this, when my best friend in Australia was first pregnant, she was seeing a bigwig OB (difficulty TTC and maintaining pregnancy) and his advice? "Well, you probably shouldn't drink more than one drink a *day*"
posted by gaspode at 3:56 PM on July 22, 2013

Oh honey, if it were as bad as you think the rates of fetal alcohol syndrome in Europe would be off the charts.

They're not. It's fine. I know women who got puke-your-guts-out drunk before they knew they were pregnant and their babies are perfect and perfectly healthy.

I say this as a woman who is trying to conceive, is potentially pregnant, and had a glass of wine last week and a small sip of beer yesterday.
posted by lydhre at 3:56 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of my friends who is from a liberal, Scandinavian country was pregnant and going back and forth between Scandinavian Country and US had 2 OBGYNs. The US one was a Puritan. The Euro one was like, try to keep the red wine down to a few glasses a week. And like, 2 cigarettes a month.
posted by oflinkey at 3:57 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

My mom drank before she realized she was pregnant with me, and she was similarly worried about potential effects. And, well, here I am. I think I turned out all right.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:05 PM on July 22, 2013

My wife had to see a high risk OB when she was pregnant with our first. The appoint was right before New Years Eve and he told her to feel free to have a glass of wine or two. Considering the rest of the appointment was filled with cautionary advice about diet, and the comment was unprompted, I am sure he would assure you that nothing bad will come of your few glasses of wine. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!
posted by Silvertree at 4:11 PM on July 22, 2013

Everybody who had children before, say, 1970, did not take the precautions you're stressing about.

This. Please do not fret about a few glasses of wine. My OB told me straight up that a glass of wine now and then, on special occasions, was completely ok. "Just don't go crazy" she said. From your description it sounds like three glasses of wine, total, spread out over more than one evening? Please rest easy.

Not only did my mom drink while pregnant with me, she took amphetamines daily throughout her pregnancy. I am not making this up; her OB felt that gaining weight while pregnant was unhealthy for her, and he prescribed amphetamines, so from eight weeks pregnant until she delivered, she took amphetamines every day. I am now a competent adult with an advanced degree and my own house and two kids and in most ways a normally functioning human.

That was the 1960's. Better living through chemistry and so forth.
posted by ambrosia at 4:14 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Anecdotally, just to make you feel better: I was unknowingly pregnant with my firstborn when I attended a music fest and got sloppy, stupid drunk. The next week (still didn't know I was pregnant!) I had my wisdom teeth removed, with all the attendant drugs and antibiotics that went along with it.

Said fetus is now 16 years old, learning how to drive, getting straight A's in his school's honors program, and has been playing string bass since he was 9 (he's really, really good).

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, if this pregnancy doesn't end up going to term, DO NOT think it's your fault because you had some wine and goat cheese. I'm giving you permission to stop worrying about this.
posted by cooker girl at 4:19 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

I had three very large peach margaritas the evening before I found out I was pregnant. My nine month old is sleeping upstairs and she is just perfect.

Let me tell you, relish those last few glasses of wine because it might be a while before you have more. I was too paranoid to drink while pregnant at all, but when I told my doctor about those margaritas, she waved her hand at me and told me not to worry. I am doing the same to you :)
posted by polkadot at 4:24 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

If it helps, implantation takes about a week to occur. It probably wasn't even implanted when you were drinking, so it wouldn't have been affected at all even if you'd had 30 glasses.

Not that it would have mattered if it had.

If anything, stressing and fretting about drinking is MORE likely to cause harm than actually having done so.
posted by Ashlyth at 4:26 PM on July 22, 2013

Dear fellow pregnant lady, welcome! I really do think we should start a club like Phobewankenobi suggested. I've been where you are and I don't have anything to add specifically to the "how much alcohol is bad / not bad" conversation but I would like to say that it is normal to freak out about it, and actually the most important coping mechanism I've had through the first trimester is realizing that... I'm just entering a new phase of my life now where I regularly freak out about stuff related to growing this tiny bundle of cells into a full grown person and the best thing I can do is... Just roll with it.

One day it may be worrying that I had a whole slew of gin and tonics before I knew I was pregnant. The other day i got hot sauce in my eye and had a freakout that my child would have a one-eyed mom and how could I have Been So Careless??? My husband recently had a sudden panic that he has already fucked our future child up through his total ignorance of and indifference to professional sports and will our kid be a moldy shunned social pariah?? My mother just admitted to me that to this day she wonders if all the shrimp she ate while pregnant with me led to my hay fever allergies.

I mean who knows.

There's so much to worry about that I feel like you just have to kind of laugh at how we work ourselves up into knots and just get kind of excited and curious about what the heck this new creature is going to have you worried about next. This is just the ride we're on now - enjoy how weird it is!

MeMail anytime!
posted by sestaaak at 4:32 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm pregnant too, and I just got a call from my midwife saying that she just realized I was not screened for cystic fibrosis when I should have been (at my 6 week appointment, which was not handled by her - I'm more than 5 months along now!). So here I am worrying about the chance of a disease that only occurs in 1 in about 3,500 newborns which I could not possibly prevent (after conception) no matter what. I know it's easy to worry. I've done a lot of worrying.

But I'm also a scientist and I actually study the neurological consequences of prenatal drug exposure (in zebrafish, but it's related). YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY.

So far, the hardest thing for me about being pregnant is that it's intensely personal, high-stakes, and incredibly close to my heart. And yet, there's almost nothing I can *do* beyond good nutrition and basic safety to make things go right. I know you want to make everything perfect. I know. But this is just not worth worrying about for a second. Give yourself a break. You are doing fine.
posted by Cygnet at 4:45 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, as a person resistant to joining clubs in general, I can say that I would enthusiastically join a pregnant MeFites club, and that is a major compliment to you guys :)
posted by Cygnet at 4:51 PM on July 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

Addressing your question literally: Help me stop worrying.
Don't beat yourself up. While worry is not always bad -- worrying over a missing child at the beach is the first step toward action -- it's utterly pointless to worry about something you can't change.
And you can't change The Past. We are all what we are right now, at this moment, the product of all that went before. The question "How bad did I screw up?" can have some value -- tell your OBGYN and your pediatrician -- but it's not something for you to worry about. Your kid will screw up too. So did your parents, and their parents. Hopefully not too bad. The species endures.
posted by LonnieK at 4:57 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Let me take you back to almost a year ago. I'd recently stopped breast feeding my infant son after almost a year and got out of the house for a rare evening out with a girlfriend. We went to a local restaurant that served amazing European delicacies. I feasted on pâté, imported unpasteurised cheeses, hams, oysters and had a few margaritas and a couple of glasses of wine - what with being pregnant and breast feeding, it was really the first time I'd been able to drink in about 2 years. Had a great night, got a buzz and was a bit hungover the next day.

I laughed with my friend that this was the last restaurant I ate at with my husband before I found out I was pregnant last time and I'd had all the "naughty" foods and wine then too. Then I remembered it had been a while since I'd had a period...this time.... And I wasn't tracking, because we weren't trying. So I peed on a stick.

Baby Jubette is now 2 weeks old, gorgeous and breastfeeding as we speak. A team of doctors have declared her perfect (as was my son, what's with that restaurant anyway?!)

For another anecdote, that very same friend conceived her own daughter the evening of a rave where she and her husband consumed a few things substantially stronger than alcohol. Daughter is 11, sharp as a tack and perfect. Not that I'd recommend it, but I'm just saying'.
posted by Jubey at 5:02 PM on July 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

For me, parenting has been one long adventure in discovering what new heart-stopping thing I don't have any control over today. And you know what? That's actually good.

My daughter will be thirty this year and I couldn't have imagined how awesome things would turn out. I'm grateful I couldn't micromanage the outcome because I couldn't have done as well.

All you can do is the best you can with what you know at the time. Please don't torture yourself over this - it's going to be okay. And even when it's not, you'll get through.

Best wishes to you and yours.
posted by Space Kitty at 5:05 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

You didn't "screw up", or fail in any way. Not by living your life like a regular person, and certainly not for small things you did before you knew you were pregnant. Especially when you didn't have any expectation you WOULD be pregnant.

Many people hold an attitude, that women should be judged and punished for not being 100% "pure" in every aspect of life. Exposure to this attitude is almost unavoidable, although some women bear more brunt of it than others. Women are supposed to behave so perfectly, and with such purity, that our behavior couldn't pose a risk to a potential embryo, even before we know we're pregnant. Fill yourself with folic acid, never drink, don't take certain medications, don't use certain face lotions, don't take hot baths, obey superstitious pregnancy beliefs A, B, and C... just in case, for the entire length of your fertility. Lest someone judge us for imperiling our potential pregnancy. Lest we judge ourselves, for not behaving in an unattainably perfect fashion. We're supposed to live like we're future pregnancies, not like we're human beings.

That attitude is garbage. While I have a lot of empathy for your obsessional worry (A LOT), you didn't do anything wrong, incorrect, or bad. You didn't do think anything that uncountable women haven't done before you, who had healthy children. It's really almost certainly going to be fine.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:17 PM on July 22, 2013 [10 favorites]

I didn't read all responses but...I drank socially (not even especially lightly socially) thru my entire pregnancy (oh, and I was also 42 so, yeah). My one year old daughter is the smartest, sharpest, happiest, most coordinated little creature I've ever seen. Have I mentioned gorgeous?
posted by tristeza at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

First: congratulations!
Second: count me among the "got drunk in between conception and the positive sign on the pee stick". When I mentioned it to the midwife, she smiled and said "fetuses are surprisingly resilient". As the pregnancy progressed, I got in more trouble with the midwives for eating Dunkin Donuts than for having a glass of wine or a plate of sushi.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:28 PM on July 22, 2013

I haven't read all the answers, but the embryo has its own blood supply until 6-8 weeks or something like that. It won't be affected by your alcohol use until then. You're fine! I had beer or wine a few times after the first trimester, all with the approval of my midwife.

To avoid anxiety don't read most pregnancy books! Ina May Gaskin's books are good, and I liked one called The Mommy Docs something about pregnancy. They're informative without giving you worst case scenarios. I also liked the Amalah and Pregnant Chicken weekly pregnancy calendars. They let you know what is going on with your baby without giving you things to worry about. I had an early miscarriage too and at first I found it terrifying that that baby didn't make it for reasons completely out of my control, but later it was sort of liberating. If you're otherwise living as healthily as you can (and have no low progesterone or medical issues like that) your baby is going to grow or not grow no matter what you do. Don't let worry rob you of the joy of a happy pregnancy.
posted by apricot at 5:45 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

My mother drank a martini a day throughout her entire pregnancy in the 1950's. She was advised to do by her physician, who told her it would help her relax.
And I turned out awesome!
posted by elf27 at 6:02 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you knew what I ingested before I knew I was pregnant, you would choke.

Once I knew I was pregnant, I got the best-quality vitamins (here's how to tell if the vitamin you are taking is any good or not: drop it in a glass of warm water and leave it alone for a while....if it starts to break up in the glass, you are good to go. If after a goodly while it is still a solid pellet, buy another brand), and I took care of myself in all ways. This included NOT reading that "what to expect" book.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:16 PM on July 22, 2013

Let me tell you girlfriend - I got slap drunk. Slap. Drunk. Mixed drinks and liquor shots can't see straight drunk. Not once but twice when I was pregnant and didn't know it. The pregnancy was a complete surprise/oops event. Now my daughter is about to turn 4. She is/has always been completely normal, healthy, and smart.

Don't get me wrong, I worried and spent a sleepless night or three stressed about it. But then Dr. Google told me it would be ok so I stopped worrying. Dr. Google was right!

posted by ZabeLeeZoo at 6:22 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just before I was born, because of her placenta previa and risk of premature labor, the doctors gave my mother an alcohol drip. The hard stuff. This was in 1970. It hasn't impaired my intelligence...or maybe it has, since without it I would now be the President of the United States, a Nobel laureate in physics, or the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize! ;)

I think the hysteria in the United States about what you shouldn't do while pregnant is partly driven by doctors' and companies' fear of litigation, and partly by the ideology that social reproduction is entirely your own responsibility.
posted by bad grammar at 6:23 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

For the how not to stress stuff, know that the list of things you are supposedly messing up is going to be long.

Apparently, my prenatal vitamin didn't have any iron, which is bad, the starbucks passion fruit tea has caffiene and caffeine is bad, and just this morning I read that hibiscus tea...which I've been drinking daily because it is the only drink I can swallow and not feel nausea, which is important because dehydration is bad because it can cause uterine contractions.

Mind you, I'm about twenty weeks in now and the ultrasound says the baby's all fine. But really, to keep my sanity, I'm just going now for an everything in moderation approach, because the alternative is living in a bubble.

If that doesnt work, try the mantra: The baby is resilient and you can only do your best.
posted by anitanita at 7:00 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

I got pregnant sometime during the Christmas holidays. I was drinking multiple drinks a night, drinking coffee with Bailey's throughout the day and even got sloshed on New Year's. Then I went on a cleanse diet and took loads of herbs that are probably absolutely NOT safe in pregnancy. I lost 6 pounds. I was also taking medication that carries a risk of cleft palate. Oh, and I was a smoker too. When I found out I was pregnant, I worried myself sick over all these things. Even though my doctor said I shouldn't worry about it at all, it took me weeks to stop obsessing over the harm I might have done to my child, which would be ALL MY FAULT.

I have a beautiful, brilliant 3 year-old daughter now :)

You are not alone. Stop worrying and think of how you are going to laugh at yourself later. Congratulations!
posted by kitcat at 7:18 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh my goodness, you are talking about THREE glasses of wine! It's totally going to be okay. Some people even say a glass a day throughout pregnancy could be ok. There isn't any conclusive research about how much is or isn't ok, so it's still good to be cautious, but three glasses? This is not anything to worry about!

Try not to let guilt about what you do & don't do plague you throughout your pregnancy. Of course, eat a nutritious and varied diet, but if you are not perfect, that doesn't mean your baby won't be perfect! One thing you can do that is beneficial for the baby is to relax. is a good, non-panic-ridden website to help you with choosing medications and so on throughout your pregnancy.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:37 PM on July 22, 2013

The vast, vast majority of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal defects, so just in case you have lingering worries about the early miscarriage: it wasn't anything you did and there wasn't anything you could have done to prevent it. Also, there's a thread on "crack babies" on the blue going on, saying basically it is the poverty not the crack that leads to worse outcomes.
posted by meijusa at 11:39 PM on July 22, 2013

Kale? That's a new one on me (but then I am 53, and in the UK) And purely on the basis of my three healthy grown up daughters I think you can stop worrying about 3 glasses of wine.
The general anxiety about messing up - at some point you have to accept that not every decision you make regarding this child, and any others you may have, will be the best decision for all sorts of reasons. In the same way as you are not always the best wife or partner or the best worker or the best friend. But most of the time you will be awesome and three glasses of wine will weigh very lightly in the scale. Mopping up after a sick two year old, picnics for no reason and supporting an 18 year old who's having a hard time at college will balance things out.
And congratulations!
posted by sianifach at 12:27 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: From the OP:
My heart is so full after reading these messages -- I can't thank all of you enough for taking the time to post! My husband and I were both grinning while reading each and every message together, and I feel so much more at peace. And I love the idea of a pregnancy group -- I'll be in touch after I go to my first doctor's appt to make sure everything is still on. Thanks so much again everyone!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 1:41 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yay OP! Can I also recommend The Kid, by Dan Savage. In it, he talks about the fears he had about his unborn adopted son due to the birth mother's very free use of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. The kid is great! But also, he realised that folks back in the day were drinking, smoking and eating soft cheeses all over the joint while pregnant and most kids born in the 1970s are perfectly fine.

posted by mooza at 3:33 AM on July 23, 2013

I did *exactly* the same thing (including the waiting for IVF part) and am now feeding a perfect and very robust 5-week-old. You'll be fine. And don't worry about the worrying - it's normal and inevitable.
posted by altolinguistic at 4:03 AM on July 23, 2013

Plus, a few drinks is nothing. As said above, the message in the US is very very conservative because the exact dose of alcohol that's problematic is variable and can't really be pinned down.

Also, people tend to lie about their drinking. So for someone who is dependent on alcohol, if the advice were to limit themselves to one drink a day, that would mean a giant Slurpee cup full of fortified wine a day. When the advice is to not drink at all, they will hopefully be able to control themselves enough to not cause FAS.

Don't worry at all, (or at least, don't let the worrying worry you) and enjoy the ride. It goes fast!
posted by gjc at 4:31 AM on July 23, 2013

Also, this is only the first of a million things, before and after your kid's arrival, that will cause you waves of panic and self-doubt. (And the ones that have to do with handling stress once their here are really ripe for self-recrimination.) Just get it into your head NOW that all we can ever do is be attentive, well-intentioned (and informed, to some degree), and muddle through. Anyone who claims to be operating at a higher level than that is lying -- self-forgiveness and tolerance for imperfection/failure is a big part of what parenthood requires from you. So you're ahead of the game! :))
posted by acm at 8:38 AM on July 23, 2013

You can take this with a grain of salt as coming from a distinctly non-medically-educated man, I offer it as advice from someone with a long history of pathological anxiety who has been there.

The drinking you described carries literally no risk according to the best and most modern research, but I think you probably know that. I take it you want to know how to stop worrying and the answer is that it's fucking hard. If you're serious about it, stop looking at information about pregnancy safety. Yes, stop. I know you read that soft cheese thing online, but that is one of those assertions that someone just made conceptually. Someone worked their way backwards from listeria and came up with "avoid goat cheese". It is always and ever thus with worry: you pick at it, you scratch at it because it feels like it will relieve the pressure. But it is like all other picking and scratching: it just makes it worse.

Here is the last information on safeguarding your pregnancy for you to take from the internet. Get the rest of your information from now on from a doctor you like and trust. Seriously:

You can't do anything about most of the risk factors for miscarriage. Nothing. Totally out of your control. Here are the most important things you can exert some control over: stress, and nutrition. Tell yourself it's going to be okay. Tell yourself it's going to be wonderful. Tell yourself you don't have to worry about things that aren't happening right now. Sleep. Nap when you feel like it. You're the queen now. If your husband snores and has to be banished for the couch for the duration, tough for him. Meditate. Get massages. Focus on feeling good as opposed to not fucking up (because you're not fucking up, you're doing great). Eat well, eat what you like, maybe don't go hogwild on the butter and oil. By all means avoid unpasteurized dairy if it helps you feel less stressed, maybe get one of those water-filtering pitchers (definitely eat dairy though, and eggs). And who doesn't want to avoid secondhand smoke as much as they can anyway. But remember that every adorable baby you see on the street was raised on European tap water, European secondhand smoke, and (knowing Europeans) plenty of soft cheese. Take your prenatal vitamin. Do what your doctor tells you. You're doing great.
posted by Luke Skywalker at 8:41 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing this happened to me (I got pretty drunk at least once before I knew I was pregnant) and I had a perfect pregnancy and a full-term extraordinarily healthy baby boy. He is big and strong and has never been sick. I also had the occasional glass of beer or wine while I was pregnant, with the blessing of my OB/GYN. Just put away the internet, your mother-in-law, and the voice inside you that is telling you all the things you're doing wrong, and go see your doctor. Do what s/he tells you to do, and enjoy your pregnancy. Congratulations!
posted by annekate at 2:15 PM on July 23, 2013

I used to date a guy in college whose mother was a midwife with the NHS. She advised all her expecting and nursing mothers to drink a glass of Guinness each day (not a pint, mind you, just a regular glass). It was believed that the benefit of the minerals and nutrients in the beer far outweighed any risk of the alcohol. I doubt the NHS is still offering this advice, but I always remember this, and how many women in the UK must have given birth over many decades following this kind of advice. I don't think your few glasses of wine are anything to be concerned about.
posted by amusebuche at 7:25 PM on July 23, 2013

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