The Dangers of Drinking Before Pregnancy

Should you really stop drinking, just in case? A nutritionist weighs in.

The Dangers of Drinking Before Pregnancy

If you're feeling the stress from CDC's recent advice on pregnancy and alcohol, you're not alone. The new recommendation, which advised sexually active women to refrain from drinking alcohol if they are not using birth control in case of an unintended pregnancy, has raised havoc among women of childbearing age.

Let's take a step back....

We're all aware that drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. By the time one realizes they are pregnant, it could be a few extra weeks before your alcohol intake has been cut off entirely.

As a dietitian and health care professional, my advice for women trying to get pregnant is to tune out the alarmist tone of the CDC's recommendation, but still consider your health as your #1 priority during the pre-conception phase. If you are interested in or planning to conceive, the first step is to prioritize your health in all aspects: nutrition, fitness, sleep, and psychological/mental. As noted by Rebecca Ruiz via Mashable, the CDC's "underlying message was unmistakable: Women should consider themselves first a vessel for human life and make decisions about their health and behavior based on that possibility.”

I trust that if you're trying to get pregnant, then it's likely you are ALREADY proceeding with caution. And since evidence-based research demonstrates a correlation between alcohol consumption and birth defects, and because there isn't a minimum dosage noted, abstinence is advised.

But, I know not every pregnancy is planned. In fact, the recommendation from the CDC was published after it came to light that the Zika Virus can be transmitted via sexual intercourse, creating its own scary risks for unplanned pregnancy. So there's certainly merit to practicing caution when in such a phase to conceive. Both the ACOG and AAP applauded the CDC for this recommendation and have pledged their support.

Instead of thinking about the harshness of these recent CDC recommendations, try to focus on improving your general self-care, especially during pre-conception:

  • If you haven't started a fitness regimen appropriate to your lifestyle, start one. Whether it's light walking, pilates, strength training or yoga, it's much easier to start prior to pregnancy than once you become pregnant. Prime your body for the ability to grow another human over 9-10 months.
  • Nutrition is so important at any stage of your life. However, obtaining a variety of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients before pregnancy is a great way to ensure adequacy within the body. Perhaps it means adding a vegetable protein shake to your weekly meals (check out greenblender for convenience) or investing in a slow cooker to help prep meals ahead of time (we always need more time!) or even stocking up on healthier snacks so that you don't go too long without eating (..and then making poorer choices because your hangry!)
  • Take advantage of (comfortable) sleep. You'll be craving for it during pregnancy and well into motherhood. An hour before you typically sleep, implement relaxation strategies to help you disconnect from technology and media thus decreasing stimulation.
  • Focus on lower stress levels. Stress affects each person differently but there are rarely positive side effects from negative stress levels. You may love your job, you may love redecorating your apartment, you may love moving into a new home but it will take a toll on your health. Set aside a little time every week to de-stress. Massages, nail salon time, even socializing are all ways to recharge.

Remember, we're on your side... and we just want to ensure your pregnancy goes the way you want it.

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In This Article

    An expectant mama's to-do list can feel endless… but here's the good news: A lot of those tasks are actually really exciting. Planning your baby registry is especially thrilling: You get a say in what gifts friends and family members will buy for your new addition!

    But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

    Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

    Here are 10 items we agree deserve a spot in the "need" category on your registry, mama.

    A crib to grow with your baby

    Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib

    First-time mamas are likely creating nursery spaces for the first time, and that can get expensive. Adding a quality crib to Target registry gives friends and family members the option to join forces to make a large purchase through group gifting.


    A safe + convenient car seat

    Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat

    The list of non-negotiable baby essentials is pretty short, but it definitely includes a car seat. In fact, most hospitals will not allow you to leave after delivery until a car seat check is performed. We recommend an infant seat, which can easily snap into a base in your car.


    A traveling nursery station

    Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

    It's hard to beat a good playard when it comes to longevity. This item can be baby's sleeping place when they're sharing a room with you for the first months. Down the line, it can function as a roving diaper change station. And when you travel, it makes a great safe space for your little one to sleep and play.


    A swing for some backup help

    4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

    A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.


    An easy-to-clean high chair

    Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

    Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.


    A diaper bag to share

    Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

    When you're a mom, you're usually toting diapers, wipes, clothing changes, bottles, snacks, toys and more. You need a great bag to stash it all, and if you're anything like us, you'll choose a backpack style for comfort and functionality. Bonus: This gender neutral option can easily be passed off to your partner.


    A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

    Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

    We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.


    A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

    Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor DXR-8

    Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.


    A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

    Petunia Pickle Bottom for Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, Strolling in Salvador

    A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.


    A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

    Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

    Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.


    Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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