Can a glass of wine in pregnancy really lead to happier children?
Research suggests that, contrary to popular belief, drinking wine while pregnant could be beneficial. Here, mums share their experiences.
EVERYONE knows it's not a good idea to drink alcohol during pregnancy -- or is it? According to new research from Denmark, not only is it acceptable to have a glass or two of wine a week, but it could also help you to produce happier and well-adjusted children.
The study -- carried out by psychologist Janni Niclasen, of the University of Copenhagen --looked at mothers in Denmark who drank 10 bottles of white wine -- or 90 units -- over the course of the pregnancy.
It concluded that their children were behaviourally and emotionally better adjusted than children of teetotal mothers. The women who drank lightly during pregnancy were more likely to be from well-educated backgrounds with healthier lifestyles, so a couple of units of alcohol per week did little to affect their overall health and that of their unborn child.
We spoke to mothers to find out what their relationship with alcohol was during pregnancy.
Mandy O'Rorke from Kildare runs www.babybay.ie (market place for baby products), is married to Jonathan and has three children, James (8), Hannah (7) and Lucy (5). Although she didn't drink during the beginning of her pregnancies, she did allow herself the occasional glass of wine and doesn't think that it did any harm.
"I THINK a lot of the advice given to pregnant women is inconclusive and there is no proof that drinking during pregnancy can damage the baby. Most mums would have drunk and smoked through their pregnancies back in the 70s when I was born and I think I turned out okay.
"Personally, I never drank in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, but after that, while I wouldn't be knocking back a bottle of wine in front of the Late Late on a Friday night, I did have an odd glass of wine on a social occasion or if out for a meal.
"I'm not sure how much I would agree with the new Danish study and I certainly wouldn't be encouraging women to drink alcohol during pregnancy, but maybe women who have a drink while pregnant are generally more relaxed and as a result have more relaxed children which makes sense.
"We all know that stress has a huge impact on the baby while we're pregnant. But the fact is that we still don't really know the effect of alcohol on the unborn child, so most of us do cut it out or cut down dramatically -- just in case.
"My sister-in-law is a doctor in the States and recently told me that they're advised not to drink caffeine during pregnancy -- but I don't think many of us would be giving up our tea and coffee without serious evidence that it can be harmful to the baby. All in all, I would say, that pregnant women should do what they're comfortable with.
"A lot of women don't feel like drinking while they're pregnant anyway which is great, but if you fancy a glass of wine with a nice meal then I don't think it will do any harm. That said, don't have a drink if you're going to feel guilty about it and make sure it's your favourite wine too so you can really enjoy it."
Rachel Lane Tyrrell lives in Wicklow with her husband James and their two-year-old daughter Juliet. The 31-year-old who runs www.babytalk festival.ie is currently expecting her second child and while she decided not to drink alcohol during pregnancy, she feels there is too much conflicting advice given to pregnant women.
"WHEN you announce that you are expecting a baby, the whole world seems to have an opinion on what you should and shouldn't be doing -- anyone from the postman to your best friend's Mum will impart their words of wisdom. You instantly become a talking point, instead of commenting on the weather, people will make remarks about how big or "tidy" you are and how you should be caring for the little person growing inside. It can be overwhelming to say the least.
"The subject of drinking during pregnancy seems to be one that most agree on though, 40-42 weeks is such a short period of time in the scheme of things, so for safety's sake it's probably best to become a temporary pioneer.
"Although you do still come across advice that one drink won't do any harm, but my motto is to listen and then do my own research and go with my gut (or belly) before making any decisions.
"There are so many variables that affect a child's development that I find it hard to believe that just drinking occasionally will create more well-adjusted children. Research is a great conversation starter though, and it is excellent that we have access to so much information at our fingertips to help us make informed decisions.
"We all take on board so much advice and information that sometimes our own little internal voice is drowned out.
"When I first entered the parenting world, I was so confused and frustrated with the conflicting advice that was being hurled at me from every angle. But as time passed I have learned that most advice comes from a well-meaning place and is intended to help -- but it is your responsibility to take that advice and decide what to do with it.
"During my first pregnancy I followed every rule -- I religiously took my pre-natal vitamins, ate well, swam, practised yoga and looked after myself. Part of this healthy lifestyle was to avoid alcohol.
"I'm quite a cautious person and if there is any doubt surrounding something and I can avoid it, I will. I attended several weddings, lots of big birthday celebrations and survived a very merry Christmas without a drop to drink.
"Sometimes it was tempting but mostly I was too tired to even think about having a drink. This time around I am a little more relaxed, I allow myself to indulge in the odd bag of crisps and I made friends with a big box of Roses over Christmas, but I have decided to stick to avoiding alcohol.
"My own journey has inspired an event called Babytalk Festival which is taking place on February 22-23 in O'Reilly Hall UCD, Dublin.
"We have designed the festival for new and expectant parents as a fun comfortable place to gather, mingle, chat, learn, share advice and stories, listen and speak with experts on a range of topics relating to trying to conceive, pregnancy and parenting."
For more information visit www.babytalkfestival.ie https://www.facebook.com/babytalkfestival
According to Laura Haugh, Mum-in-Residence for MummyPages.ie, alcohol is something that should always be kept to a minimum in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but never more so than during pregnancy.
"WE are frequently contacted by expectant mums who are worried about the alcohol they consumed during the early weeks of their pregnancy, often when they did't know they were pregnant.
"We recommend that mums contact their obstetrician, GP or local midwife if they are concerned. They may suggest an early ultrasound scan to put the expectant mum's mind at ease that all is well.
"The best advice we offer these mums however, is to try not to worry about the things they did before they knew they were pregnant and instead to focus on things that they can do now to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
"Eating the right foods, moderate exercise, and cutting out stimulant drinks all help to keep mum and baby healthy."
For advice visit www.mummypages.ie