“I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant and Kept Drinking—Now What?!”
Imagine this: You just saw your positive pregnancy test and realize that all your baby dreams are just 40-ish weeks from coming true! Everything’s so exciting until the doctor tells you that you’re maybe five weeks along. Panicked, you start to do the math. Was it three or four weeks ago that you met the girls for gin and tonics? And oh God, you helped your husband finish that gorgeous bottle of Merlot just last week. How is it that you’ve only known you were having a baby for about five minutes and you already feel like a bad mom?!
Back in the day, tabloids pointed it out for Britney Spears when she was spotted sipping champagne and cosmos shortly before her pregnancy was publicly confirmed. But the truth is that roughly half of new moms to be drink alcohol in their first weeks of pregnancy, before they know they’re expecting—it’s just that most of us don’t make the pages of US Weekly! No, it’s not ideal to be drinking when you’ve got an embryo growing up in there, but it’s important to realize that you’re not the only one to have sipped a few sips early in their pregnancy. Naturally, you’re going to trade in your rum and cokes for rootbeer floats right away (mmmm, root beer!), since alcohol and pregnancy obviously don’t mix well, but how much should you really worry about having already harmed your wee one?
Happily, I’ve got some pretty good news for you. Of course there’s no 100 percent guarantee that your Mai Tai Monday didn’t affect baby, but the March of Dimes—who basically wrote the bible on pregnancy and baby safety—say chances are that if you had an occasional drink before knowing you were pregnant, it won’t have hurt your baby. Now, if you were doing shots night after night, or tasting every artisanal cocktail from that new mixologist in town, you may be running a higher risk of your baby having fetal alcohol syndrome or other developmental issues. That’s why it’s super important to be honest with your doctor and tell her exactly what you have and have not been doing. Trust me, she’s heard everything in the book before, and she won’t judge you. (If she does, get a new doctor, STAT! You need someone you can be totally honest with, lady!)
And for those ladies who are trying to conceive? I’ve always had a zero tolerance policy for alcohol once I’ve found out I’m pregnant, but if you’re not up for eliminating booze entirely right now (yes, a glass of wine can help get you in the mood for babymaking after all!), at least go easy and skip the hard stuff for now. You’ll rest better at night once you are pregnant, knowing you gave baby a safer start.