Plenty of babies have been conceived after a few too many tequilas (wink wink, nudge nudge)! But while alcohol has been known to help ease tension and lower inhibitions so you can do the deed, drinking while you’re trying to conceive can hurt, rather than help, your pregnancy plans.
Drinking while trying to conceive
If you really want to improve your chances of conceiving, cutting back on drinking or stopping drinking entirely can be a good move. Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that women who are hoping to become pregnant stop consuming alcohol. Yup, completely. These recommendations are based on the risks of drinking while pregnant, which is associated with low birth weight, premature birth, developmental delays, and more. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most well-known effect of alcohol use during pregnancy. It’s also advisable to abstain from drinking during fertility treatments.
That doesn’t mean that people listen—a CDC report found that 3 in 4 women who want to get pregnant do not stop drinking when they stop using birth control. There’s no proof that drinking during early pregnancy is totally safe. One 2013 study did not find adverse outcomes for drinking in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. Still, experts say that even light or moderate alcohol during any stage can affect fetal growth and development, so it’s best to be cautious.
Striking a balance
Staying away from alcohol is easier said than done, especially if you end up spending a while trying to get pregnant! Always being the sober one at parties, holidays, and nights out for months on end can be difficult. But don’t worry—there are ways to strike a healthy balance between taking your fertility seriously and treating yourself every now and then
Light drinking shouldn’t affect your fertility too much. It isn’t likely to cause a miscarriage, according to a 2007 review of medical literature on prenatal drinking. A couple of episodes of binge drinking during a pregnancy won’t cause a miscarriage, but drinking five or more drinks several times a week might.
Many women choose to be careful about the timing of their drinking when trying to conceive, abstaining from drinking during their two week wait (after ovulation) to maximize their chances of a healthy pregnancy. In one Glow survey, taken by over 45,000 women who are trying to conceive, 35% of women said that they behave differently after ovulation and abstain from drinking, smoking, and eating foods on the pregnancy no-no list (like sushi). Recall that most women don’t find out that they’re pregnant until four to six weeks into the pregnancy, so practicing a few weeks of total sobriety after ovulation is a good way to keep your bases covered.
This all can sound pretty scary, especially if you have a taste for a good craft brew. But don’t be too alarmed—a glass of wine or a beer here and there won’t hurt too much, even in the first few weeks or before you know you are pregnant. Heavy and regular drinking is more of a risk for both miscarriage and the development of the baby.
To make the best decision about how you will manage alcohol when you are trying to conceive, talk to your healthcare provider about your lifestyle and alcohol consumption habits.