Pregnancy and Beer

credit: Tatiana Vdb of flickr.com

This July my family will have a new bundle of joy to lay claim to the Roman surname. With that wonderful addition comes almost a year (including breast feeding) of stress and hard work for my wife and I. Good thing I have a stocked fridge full of craft beer! See I get to ease my stress by unwinding every night with a glass of craft beer(yes just one), a movie, tv, netflix or a comic book. What does my wife get? What does she have to allow her some time to just kick up her feet and unwind? Yes admittedly we have taken steps to ease some of the stress like hiring someone to clean our house and I have taken on the title of Kitchen Czar (cooking and cleaning it) but is that enough? I’m not sure.

I enjoy sitting down at 9 pm grabbing the remote, my computer or my phone and a glass of craft beer. It’s my me time, my time to zone out and focus on me, even if for only two hours before I head off to bed. The more I think about it though the more I feel guilt about my wife not having that time to sit and chill with a glass of unwind sauce and Real Housewives of NeverNever Land. Most importantly what does that excess stress do to the health of the baby.

I came across this article from the Federalist about women drinking during pregnancy and how craft beer should be treated like wine. After my first read I thought, why risk it, why put the baby in a potentially harmful situation for a glass of beer? Then I started to think about how it’s easy for me as a man to say that when I’m on the other side. Could I really give up craft beer for a year? I’m not sure but I’m glad I don’t have to find out. I get my glass of beer, I get to enjoy my nights and an occasional outing with the boys at the bar, so it’s easy for me to point and wag the finger of shame and guilt.

Research

One of the major issues with pregnancy and craft beer conundrum is the limited amount of information for the light consumption of alcohol. It’s undisputed that heavy drinking will lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about a 6 ounce glass of a 6% IPA maybe twice a week, what does the data say about that? What about that 4% Saison or the Session IPA a few times during the 9 months.

If you google pregnancy and beer the amount of information is staggering but one thing stood out, most articles suggested abstention based on the heavy consumption of alcohol leading to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Luckily I came across this gem of an article from the Wall Street Journal Take Back Your Pregnancy by Brown University Professor Emily Oster. In it she uses credible studies to draw conclusions that light consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is ok. She also pointed to a widely sourced study from the Journal of Pediatrics, when debating the abstinence side, and noted its shortcomings. It’s a good read that I suggest you take a look at.

The other more robust side of that research though are articles after article suggesting that since there are many published studies linking birth and mental defects in heavy drinking of pregnant women, that abstinence is the recommend course of action. Just do a quick search of pregnancy and beer and you’ll see what I mean.

Conclusion

Honestly I don’t know either, one or two studies don’t give me conclusive evidence that drinking during pregnancy is ok and the Roman household will continue to follow the advice of our doctor but maybe the tide is changing. Maybe future generations will be armed with more research and a better idea if light consumption of alcohol trumps the mental stress of having a baby and the risk that stress puts on the babies overall health.

Until that time, you’re a responsible adult and I trust you can come to your own conclusion about what’s best for you and your family. I’m not advocating you drink nor abstain I’m just giving you information that I found interesting. Cheers or maybe not!

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