One Woman’s View – and Why I Disagree

My sister-in-law today brought to my attention this article.  Amongst the writer’s comments are:

I understand the consequences of drinking too much while pregnant and I’m of course not promoting that, I am however, saying that if I choose to sip on an alcoholic beverage with my expanding belly, it’s my prerogative.

and:

I don’t believe having a little bit of any of these things is going to change the outcome of my baby. And I appreciate being able to do it without the glare from judging eyes.

This kind of infuriated me, because I know of the amount of work and research that people around the globe are putting in to bring to attention the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.  I almost felt sorry for this woman, simply because it appears she is uneducated in exactly what drinking alcohol during pregnancy can do to your unborn child.

If you don’t already know, I work for an FASD education and prevention organisation on a casual basis, so my viewpoint here isn’t exactly a completely uneducated one (although I still have plenty more to learn).    I responded to the woman’s article by way of a comment but I felt the need to elaborate a little more and thought I’d do it here, since this is my little place in cyberspace.

I felt the writer’s viewpoint was only on how she was being viewed socially.  Of course, this is part of the bigger picture, but the more important aspect is the health of your unborn child.  Currently there is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed in pregnancy.  The reason we don’t know a specific amount is because, as in any normal non-pregnant body, alcohol effects vary depending on our genetics, our build, our weight and height, as well as a few other various factors.

What we do know is that alcohol can have devastating effects on a developing fetus, particularly within the first trimester.  I encourage you all to watch this video, presented by Prof. Kathy Sulik:

FASDLEGAL_KathySulik from Institute of Health Economics on Vimeo.

As you can see, there is more to worry about than simply being judged by others for making the decision to drink alcohol in your pregnancy.

The “My body, my choice” is normally my opinion too – until it comes to consuming alcohol in pregnancy.  Sure, do what you like to your own body, but when you are carrying a child (and have made the decision to continue carrying that child to term), the consequences of drinking alcohol go far beyond your prerogatives; you are essentially interfering with someone else’s life – someone you are supposed to love unconditionally and to whom you would presumably want to provide the best start in life – their future well-being, their prospective hopes for equal treatment within society as well as their schooling and employment abilities.  FASDs are a serious matter.  They can vary from very obvious facial deformities to behavioural, cognitive, neurological, social and emotional issues.

What the author needs to realise is that FASDs are very real disorders that destroy lives – and they are completely preventable.  I personally think, in general, a woman is extremely selfish if they make a conscious decision to not abstain from consuming alcohol for a mere 9 months.  Women with alcohol dependency issues are a different matter – there’s an underlying problem there that needs to be addressed and that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms – but for women able to control their drinking, there is no excuse for putting another life on the line in order to enjoy a glass of wine once a week.  Abstain while pregnant, enjoy your pregnancy, and recognise that you haven’t contributed to what has become a growing epidemic in today’s society.

Some Resources: