Can Pregnant Women Drink Wine?

Can pregnant women drink wine? Is the occasional glass of wine OK? Experts set the record straight.

Congratulations, mama-to-be! You may be thinking about all the lifestyle changes that have to happen over the next nine or so months. You’ll have to avoid foods like sushi and deli meat. You’ve probably also heard opinions on whether or not you can have a glass of vino during pregnancy. Here’s what you really need to know:

Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant Is Dangerous

The effects of heavy drinking (11+ drinks per week) during pregnancy are pretty well documented. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) refer to the issues babies experience after being exposed to alcohol in the womb and can range from things like shorter-than-average height and a poor memory to lifelong physical, mental or behavioral disabilities.

But Is Wine Different?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that all types of alcohol are equally harmful. Therefore, organizations like the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend pregnant women abstain from all alcohol, wine included.

So, enjoying a glass of wine every single night during pregnancy is off the table. But some experts say that an occasional sip may not spell instant doom. A 2004 study concluded that while there is no safe alcohol to drink during pregnancy, women who drank hard liquor or beer had a much higher risk of preterm birth than women who drank wine. A more recent study found that light drinking early in pregnancy may be OK.

Help Keep Your Baby Safe

The only way to guarantee your baby won’t have any alcohol-related issues is total abstinence from drinking. Should you want to indulge in a champagne toast or a once-in-awhile glass of cabernet sauvignon, be sure to discuss it with your OB/GYN. They can help you decide whether to take the risk.

Look on the bright side, though. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it’s safe to have a cup of coffee during pregnancy! Learn how much caffeine is OK for moms-to-be.

Christina Manian, RDN
Christina Manian is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist based out of Boulder, Colorado. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, she has been involved with the nutrition departments of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mass General Hospital. She completed her nutrition education at the Mayo Clinic with a focus on medical nutrition therapy and most recently practiced clinical nutrition at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. While her background has largely been in the clinical setting, Christina embraces and is shifting her focus towards wellness nutrition as the backbone to optimum health.