Another opportunity for body policing lost

Cross posted

When I was pregnant, I was very careful about how much alcohol I drank. From vague recollection, I think I had a couple of half glasses of wine during my first pregnancy, and maybe three during my second one. Except for the full glass of wine I had on my midwife’s recommendation on the dark and stormy night when my waters broke, but nothing else was happening to indicate that labour might be starting. Seriously, it was a dark and story night: according to the midwife the air pressure may have caused my waters to break.

I didn’t exactly feel guilty about it, but I was faintly worried, and I had to talk myself through the worries. I had completely absorbed the “DO NOT DRINK DURING PREGNANCY” mantra.

Each time, I was worried that someone would tell me off (except for that glass of wine on the dark and stormy night). The excellent Blue Milk has an excellent post on policing women who drink from time to time during pregnancy: Compare and contrast. And see also Lauredhel’s post at Hoyden about Town: Bad science on booze in pregnancy: Women infantilised with absolutist messages.

But it turns out that there is no evidence to suggest that women who have one or two drinks a week during pregnancy do any harm to their babies whatsoever.

Light drinking during pregnancy fine – study

Women who have one or two alcoholic drinks a week during pregnancy do not harm their children’s behavioural or intellectual development, according to a new study.

The British researchers found that pregnant women who drank up to a glass (175 millilitres) of wine, up to 50 ml of spirits or just under a pint of beer a week did not affect their children.

What are the pregnancy police going to do now?

Previous post: Because it’s always better to police women


5 responses to “Another opportunity for body policing lost

  1. Carry on exactly as before, I think. From the BBC News reporting of the study:

    However, a spokesman for the Department of Health said that its advice would remain unchanged to avoid confusion among pregnant women. “After assessing the available evidence, we cannot say with confidence that drinking during pregnancy is safe and will not harm your baby. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, our advice to pregnant women and women trying to conceive is to avoid alcohol.”


    This advice was backed by Chris Sorek, the chief executive of alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware. He said: “Despite these findings, it is important to remember that ‘light drinking’ can mean different things to different people. There is a risk that if pregnant women take this research as a green light to drink a small amount, they could become complacent, drink more than they think they are and inadvertently cause harm to their unborn child.”

    These are not the sort of people to let evidence get in the way of prejudice.

  2. Cause women are to apt to get confused in their pretty little heads. Aaargh!

  3. The point of being pregnant is to have a healthy baby.

    I may be over-sensitive about this because two of my children died (not as a result of anything I did). But if there was information which would enhance or endanger the health of my baby or me during or after pregnancy I’d want to know about it.

    That information should be based on good science which may change as it appears to have in this case, though one reserach project is not necessarily conclusive.

    I don’t see this as policing me or my body, I see it as helping me achieve the aim of a happy baby.

  4. homepaddock: for a long time, the research has suggested exactly what this study has found. It’s not just one research project. It’s more that every time there is research which shows this, it gets lost in the noise of “yes but those stupid women don’t know what it really means so we should just tell them not to drink at all IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN DAMMIT!”

    I don’t see how that’s not policing women. In a specific and incredibly patronising manner.

    I just love (=hate) this (from cim’s comment):

    Despite these findings, it is important to remember that ‘light drinking’ can mean different things to different people.

    Uh, sure, but the study seems to have been pretty specific about what was ok. So, Mr Sorek, I can solve your qualms quite easily: instead of saying “light drinking is ok”, say “one or two drinks a week is ok”. Simple.

  5. I’m lucky because my status quo is teetotal – so I didn’t have to wrestle with any alcohol-related anxiety. I did eat a fair bit of ham during pregnancy tho and had pork-related anxiety instead.