October 2022 Moms

Help! Binge drank once during my pregnancy… helpful advice only please

I am super super worried and can’t think straight! I binge drank once (4 drinks of wine) during pregnancy at 12 weeks. I know this is frowned upon and I will not let it happen again as I feel extremely guilty and anxious about my child’s health… I was having an extremely rough day and made some terrible decisions which I regret. I am wondering if there is anyone else out there with a similar story and what the effects were to the baby, if any? I have not drank at all during my pregnancy except for before I found out at about 4-6 weeks so this is the only time I have consumed a significant amount of alcohol. Helpful comments only please! I realize how dangerous drinking while pregnant is and refuse to do it again

Re: Help! Binge drank once during my pregnancy… helpful advice only please

  • The thing about alcohol during pregnancy is that there's "no safe amount", and the reason for that is that sometimes one day of binge drinking may cause significant issues for one baby, but daily drinks may not cause an issue for another. So unfortunately you can't count on other mothers' experiences to give you an idea of what to expect with your baby. The best thing you can do now (other than avoiding alcohol the rest of your pregnancy, which is your plan) is to be honest with your doctor and the baby's doctors (and other providers if they have any). The effects of alcohol can look like other issues (autism, ADHD, cognitive impairment, ODD, etc.) but some of the treatments for those actually make FASD symptoms worse. So be open and honest so experts know what to look for and can provide appropriate support. Lots of moms won't share their alcohol use, which ultimately hurts their kids more. 

    Second, I would encourage you to build up your support systems (family, friends, therapy, etc.) so you have some other, good options to turn to in tough times. Life only gets more stressful once baby arrives, and you need to take care of yourself to take care of your baby. You don't want alcohol or other destructive coping strategies to be the best or only idea you have to turn to on really bad days.

    You can't undo the past, but you can make decisions from this point on that help you and your baby and keep both healthy. Just please BE HONEST! (for context, I'm an early intervention teacher working with families of infants and toddlers with disabilities. I do not judge parents for telling me something like this and it makes my job so much easier because we're more likely to mitigate/correct issues and support the family and get help earlier if we know what we're dealing with)
  • Hi friend,

    I am not a scientist, a doctor, or a therapist, but let me offer you some honesty in return for your own and some support:

    I personally think that our culture, which has no problem with the concept of having some drinks to relieve stress or even unwind, expecting young women who’ve become pregnant to just stop drinking all together is ridiculous, and I hate the shaming that goes on against moms who do maybe break down and have some alcohol while pregnant. It is so understandable, especially if you are used to drinking. Is it safe to binge drink while pregnant? No, studies show it is not. And while I can’t say your baby will have zero issues from one instance of drinking too much, we also can’t say they will have an issue because of it. Frankly, there just haven’t been enough studies conducted and replicated to give solid answers on this. Of course the safest option is to abstain completely, but that’s easy to say for some who may have way less stress in their lives. Be kind and gracious to yourself. And for the record, I drank minimally in my pregnancies and everything was fine. My sister also had one instance of binge drinking while pregnant, four drinks like you. Her little girl is totally healthy. Again, not saying that means yours absolutely will be, but try not to worry about it. All the love and support!
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  • While i would like to echo what 00kim00 said about reaching out to your dr and be honest with them with what occurred, anecdotally, I would tell you that several days before i got a positive test with my daughter I drank so heavily I blacked out and broke my toe- she is completely fine.

    Also- I would suggest you speak to someone about coping mechanisms for stress that do not include alcohol because though pregnancy is hard and stressful- motherhood is much much more difficult, especially the very first months. It is long days and longer nights and very isolating at times. I don’t know you or your situation but I do know people who are already more prone to drink as a way to relieve stress might find it more of a comfort and then a crutch and you don’t want that.  
  • merostomatamerostomata member
    edited September 2022
    Hi mama,

    The book Expecting Better by Emily Olster has some really good data about pregnancy and alcohol. Overall, American culture advocates a total abstinence approach to alcohol during pregnancy, but other cultures do not, and generally the data suggests that light drinking (aka, one class of wine here or there) is fine. Fetal alcohol syndrome generally occurs in repeated heavy drinking over time. We can’t know if any ill effect came from your one night of drinking, but it is probably not likely.

    I completely agree with the other sentiments to be honest with your doc and reach out about healthy coping mechanisms if you’re struggling with alcohol, stress and/or depression. Set yourself and your baby up for success now and anticipate that you might struggle postpartum. It’s nothing to be ashamed of— but definitely something to address and work on. You both deserve it.
  • No suggestions or advice, just here to say I’m rooting for your baby’s health and your health & safety! We all make judgement calls we regret. I had 2 glasses of wine at 26 weeks on my baby moon and mine is healthy and thriving so far, you’re definitely not alone!
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