Is It Safe to Drink Just One Beer or Wine When Pregnant?

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Giving up alcohol for nine months can be harder for some people than others. If you’re facing any kind of social pressure or just have cravings for your favourite drink, you may wonder if just one alcoholic drink is safe. In this article, we will cover the global recommendations and safety information. 

During pregnancy, “just one drink” is not considered safe by many sources. It is advised to avoid alcohol altogether in any form or amount. Instead, there are safer drinks to consume, such as non-fermented vinegar beverages, non-alcoholic beer or wine, or pasteurized fruit or vegetable juice. 

In this article, we will discuss more information about why to avoid even just one glass of alcohol when pregnant – but we’ll also talk about alternatives so you don’t feel you’re missing out!

Can You Drink Just One Glass of Wine When Pregnant?

It is recommended to avoid wine altogether when pregnant, even if it’s a low alcohol one. Whether you mean just one glass at a time or just one during the entire duration of your pregnancy, it is not advised to drink alcohol at all and in any form – according to many official sources and health departments.

Glass and bottle of red wine and fresh ripe juicy grapes on table

However, recommendations for the consumption of alcohol during months of pregnancy vary around the globe. For instance, in a multi-national study in Europe, almost eight thousand pregnant women living in Europe were surveyed about the levels of alcohol consumption during their pregnancy (source: Women and Birth: Journal of the Australian College of Midwives).

Almost 16% of respondents in the study replied that they drank some quantities of alcohol during their pregnancy. 

As a reference, this number is closer to 10% in the United States (source: Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical Center).

While heavy drinking during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and other congenital abnormalities in the fetus, the impact of light or moderate drinking is less clear (source: Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical Center).

This knowledge gap is likely due to a lack of experimental research in the area since it is often unethical to perform experiments involving pregnant women and their fetuses. 

Due to this lack of information, there is a general consensus in the United States to avoid all forms and amounts of alcohol throughout the pregnancy.

In other words, even just the smallest amount of alcohol is not considered safe during pregnancy due to the increased risk of adverse effects on the fetus, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. It is important to note that this potential risk is present in all trimesters of pregnancy (source: Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research). 

cold refreshing beer in a glass

Can I Have One Beer When Pregnant? 

Although beer is considered to be “weaker” in levels of alcohol content when compared to wine or liquor-based beverages, the recommendation above still stands as consuming alcohol in pregnancy still increases the risk of harm to the fetus. 

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that there is no amount, no time, and no kind of alcohol that is safe for pregnancy. Therefore, avoid beer during pregnancy as well. 

A good alternative to a glass of wine or a beer during pregnancy is their non-alcoholic counterparts. At the same time, it is essential not to over-consume these non-alcoholic beverages either since many can be high in sugar or calories. Always check the label, since some beers are truly “no alcohol” at 0.0% ABV, and some may have trace amounts.

Other Drinks and Alternatives When Pregnancy 

Many wonder about liquor and spirits and their safety during pregnancy as well. These beverages or any drinks containing them as ingredients are not safe during pregnancy and should be avoided.

In addition to the non-alcoholic varieties of beer, wine, and liquor-based drinks, there are many safe drinks pregnant women can enjoy. You do not have to stick with just plain old water during your pregnancy! You can enjoy vinegar-based drinks as long as they are not fermented. Fermentation is the process that can create alcohol as a by-product.

Vinegar beverages are a great option if you are looking for a similar flavor and body to some alcoholic beverages. 

spritzer drinks with fresh fruit, mango, berries, cucumbers and limes, with sparkling mineral water, on ice

Additionally, seltzers, spritzers, and pasteurized fruits and vegetable juices can be great alternatives to alcohol during your pregnancy. 

Unfortunately, fermented beverages, such as kombucha, should be avoided during pregnancy because they may contain small units of alcohol, too.

If you are craving a beer, wine, or another alcoholic beverage while you are pregnant, do not just try to ignore the craving entirely and instead replace it with a safe beverage. Drinking something else instead will help to reduce the craving for alcohol further – and you get the added bonus of staying hydrated, which is essential when you’re pregnant, too.

If you are still having trouble controlling your drinking habits or craving for alcohol, it is important that you reach out to your physician or another healthcare provider for assistance. 

Overall, I hope this article was helpful in breaking down the recommendations for even a low-level alcohol consumption during pregnancy and some alternatives to try instead!