Is One Glass of Wine OK for the Baby During Pregnancy?

Posted by | October 15, 2019 | Lifestyle, Pregnancy Medicine | No Comments

There are many adjustments an expectant mother needs to make during the months she awaits the birth of her baby. She needs to pay attention to her diet, follow guidelines for exercising during pregnancy, and she might need to adjust her social activities as well. For some pregnant moms, giving up that glass of wine shared with girlfriends can seem like a hard adjustment to make, but there are many reasons why doctors strongly advise against drinking while pregnant.

What Does Alcohol Do to a Developing Baby?

When a pregnant mother drinks alcohol, the alcohol is passed on to her unborn baby through the blood and into the baby’s tissues and organs. Not only is the alcohol passed on to the baby, but then the baby’s organs have to process the chemicals in the alcohol, and this is done much more slowly in a baby than in an adult. This means that the alcohol can remain in your baby’s system for much longer than it typically would. No level of alcohol has been shown to be safe for a pregnant woman to have, so even one glass of wine when pregnant is not advised. The effects of alcohol not only exist for the baby in the womb, but can cause lifelong consequences, particularly FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome).

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS, is the term used to describe the various birth defects and health issues that can result from a mother’s consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.

  • Miscarriage
  • Facial deformities (sometimes subtle)
  • Low birth weight and premature birth
  • Delayed muscle growth and problems with balance
  • Inability to suck well, making feeding problems more challenging
  • Lack of small and large muscle coordination
  • Behavioral and attention delays and conditions such as ADD and ADHD symptoms
  • Heart defects
  • Vision problems
  • Problems in school with attention and academics
  • Hearing and speech delays
  • Cerebral palsy

Can I Have Just One Glass of Wine While Pregnant?

Image Courtesy of Victor Habbick /

Image Courtesy of Victor Habbick /

Even though it might require social and behavioral changes, it is recommended that women who are trying to get pregnant and those who are pregnant, not have even one glass of wine – much less frequent amounts of alcohol. Instead of focusing on the one glass of wine you can’t share with your girlfriends while at a social event like a 4th of July picnic, try these other options that are healthier for your baby.

  • Substitute the wine for a nonalcoholic sparkling cider or a Shirley Temple.
  • Always pack a water bottle, and try some water flavor enhancements that you can mix directly into the water for an easy beverage you always have available.
  • Go out for breakfast with the girls instead of meeting them at 5:00 for cocktails.
  • Surround yourself with friends who support your desire to have a healthy pregnancy and who won’t give you a hard time or any pressure about skipping the cocktail.

Drinking while pregnant is just one of those activities that is not worth the risk to the health and future of your unborn child. Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have, and if you find that you are having a hard time staying away from alcohol, be sure to work with a counselor and medical professional who can address this serious situation.

[Feature Image Courtesy of kdshutterman /]
Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”