You’re Pregnant! What to Drink (Or Not)

August 17, 2011

So you’re pregnant and waiting to see your doctor. Along with what you should avoid eating, there are some guidelines for your liquid intake as well.

We’re really talking about three things here: caffeine, alcohol and water.

Let’s start with water, since that’s a positive message. Drink lots of it. You probably don’t drink enough. Start. You know what got me drinking water? Three glasses of water in the fridge, one with a Post-It that said “9-12,” another with “12-3,” and another with “3-6.” It worked.

Now the bad news. We all know you shouldn’t drink alcohol while pregnant. We all also have an aunt/mother/grandmother who will note scornfully that she drank two martinis every evening while pregnant with her children and they turned out fine. (She’s the same one that will helpfully tell you not to stress about a car seat because her babies came home in a cardboard box in the back seat.)

Again here, you’re playing the odds. Alcohol is demonstrably most destructive in the first trimester and least destructive in the last. Within the medical community there’s conversation about this that doesn’t make it into the zero tolerance messages to the public at large. I was in marketing, so I get this. You can’t put up a billboard that says, “If you drink a quart of tequila a day and show up at your local bar at 11AM, you should stop drinking. The rest of you can get away with a glass of wine here and there, more so late in your pregnancy. But we really mean ‘here and there’ and you should keep track because social drinkers probably underestimate how much they actually consume.” That’s a crap ad campaign. It’s easier to say, “Quit drinking,” so they do.

My doctor said to skip it in the first trimester at least and just watch it the the second and third. Which is what I did. It was hard at first but as the pregnancy moved along, I lost my taste for it anyway and I still don’t have it back nearly two years later, so solace yourself that you’re a healthy cheap date!

Caffeine is pretty straightforward. One or two caffeinated beverages a day is generally OK. But not venti black coffees, ladies. Two normal cups. And don’t forget to count caffeinated colas. Cut back to half-caf if you have to. You’ll get there. (A friend’s doctor said, “no caffeine” which seemed just mean given that you’re up five times a night to head to the bathroom. My personal take – and my physician’s – was moderation.)

See other “You’re Pregnant!” entries: What to ReadWhat Not to EatWhat Medications Can I Take?

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