Can I Drink Wine While Pregnant?

Waiter serving wine

Richard Bord / Contributor / Getty Images

Pregnancy comes with a big list of things you can no longer do, and drinking alcohol is right up at the top. But you may be wondering whether that applies to all types of alcohol or whether a limited amount of wine is OK later on in pregnancy.

When doctors first identified fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) (then called fetal alcohol syndrome), they urged people who were expecting to abstain from binge drinking. FASDs was associated with heavy drinking, so it makes you wonder whether you really can't have a single glass of wine at the end of the workweek.

Turns out, you should really just find another way to unwind. "There is no safe way in which to drink wine or other alcohol while pregnant," says Daniel Roshan, MD, a New York City-based leading board-certified high-risk maternal-fetal OBGYN. "Alcohol is a known teratogen and cannot be considered safe for consumption during pregnancy in any amount."

Drinking Wine During Pregnancy

Wine is not considered safe to drink at any time during pregnancy. "If you choose to continue drinking alcohol while pregnant, your baby is at high risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders which can range from mild to severe craniofacial malformation, preterm delivery, or spontaneous abortion as well as neurodevelopmental delays and behavioral issues," cautions Dr. Roshan.

Heavy drinking and binge drinking (four or more drinks in a two-hour period) while pregnant increases the likelihood that a baby will be born with FASDs. That being said, there is no known threshold of how much alcohol you can safely drink.

"Drinking alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy can cause the baby to have abnormal facial features," says Harland Adkins, a registered dietitian nutritionist and healthcare professional. However, consuming alcohol throughout the rest of pregnancy still puts your baby at risk of developing FASDs. "Growth and central nervous system problems like low birth weight and behavioral problems can occur from drinking alcohol anytime during pregnancy," Adkins adds.

Consuming wine or other alcohol also increases your risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. This risk increases the more you drink, says Dr. Roshan.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about drinking wine while pregnant.

Is it Safe for Baby?

Drinking wine during pregnancy is not considered safe for a developing fetus. This includes any amount of wine at any point in pregnancy.

In fact, any kind of alcohol consumption puts your baby at risk for birth defects, learning problems, and more, overruling any potential benefits, like the antioxidants in red wine or help with sleep or relaxation.

Safety Precautions

Drinking wine during pregnancy raises your baby's risk of being born with FASDs. "Alcohol is easily passed along to the baby, whose body is less able to get rid of alcohol than the mother's," Adkins explains. "An unborn baby tends to develop a high concentration of alcohol, which stays in the baby's system for longer periods than it would in the mother's...possibly damaging a baby's developing nervous system."

FASDs is associated with birth defects and developmental and cognitive delays in children.

Birth Defects

Drinking wine during pregnancy puts your child at risk of being born with birth defects. These include low body weight, shorter than average height, small head size, and abnormal facial features. Consuming alcohol in the first trimester contributes to the risk of facial deformities.

Developmental Problems

Babies with FASDs may have sleep disturbances and problems sucking. Their vision and hearing may be impacted and they may have problems with their heart, kidney, or bones. As they grow, these children may struggle with coordination and hyperactive behavior.

Learning Delays

FADs may cause learning delays that impact school performance and a person's overall quality of life. When the expecting parent drinks alcohol, babies are at risk of developing learning disabilities, speech and language delays, and poor reasoning skills. In school, they may have trouble paying attention and struggle in math.

Pregnancy Loss

Drinking while pregnant raises the risk of miscarriage, especially during the first trimester. The more you drink, the higher that risk becomes.

When Can I Resume Drinking Wine?

It is OK to drink wine after you deliver your baby, but Adkins advises waiting until after you and your baby have been checked out. But generally speaking, once the umbilical cord is cut, there is no longer a risk of passing alcohol to your baby through your blood (unless you are breastfeeding). That said, you may want to wait to begin drinking again.

For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the safest option for a mom and her baby is to not consume alcohol at all. In addition to the fact that alcohol is present in breastmilk (if you are breastfeeding) drinking also impairs your senses and can make it difficult for you to adequately and safely care for your baby.

If you do drink, the CDC recommends limiting your alcohol consumption to one serving of alcohol per day. You also should consider having someone who is not drinking care for your baby until you have no alcohol in your system.

When drinking, you run the risk of not hearing your baby's cries, or worse yet dropping or injuring your baby. Additionally, if you are breastfeeding, a small amount of alcohol does pass through your milk and will be passed on to the baby.

"Alcohol and breastfeeding remains controversial but the recommendation currently is to delay breastfeeding by 2 hours for every serving of alcohol," Dr. Roshan notes.

You also may have heard of people who "pump and dump" to rid their bodies of milk that potentially has alcohol in it while maintaining their milk supply, but Dr. Roshan says that this is not usually necessary.

"There is no reason to [pump and dump] unless your breasts become engorged and not enough time has elapsed since your last drink to feed your baby."

Pregnancy Safe Alternatives

If wine was your go-to for relaxation or your preferred drink at social gatherings, you may wonder what to replace it with for the duration of your pregnancy. Here are a few alcohol-free alternatives to sip until after your newborn arrives.

Mocktails

Alcohol-free cocktails are a good choice for social gatherings if you want a fun drink that's safe while you are pregnant. There are plenty of delicious recipes out there that will make you forget that they don't have alcohol in them.

Sparkling Apple Cider

If you want to make a toast, go for sparkling apple cider. It looks and tastes a lot like champagne!

A Word From Verywell

No amount of alcohol is safe at any point during pregnancy. Drinking more alcohol heightens the risks to your unborn child, but there is no known safe amount. FASDs is preventable if you abstain from alcohol. If you have any questions about drinking alcohol during pregnancy, reach out to a healthcare provider.

Was this page helpful?
9 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Thomas JD, Warren KR, Hewitt BG. Fetal alcohol spectrum disordersAlcohol Res Health. 2010;33(1-2):118-126. PMID: 23579942.

  2. Alcohol use in pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  3. Glass L, Mattson SN. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: a case studyJ Pediatr Neuropsychol. 2017;3(2):114-135. doi: 10.1007/s40817-016-0027-7. PMID: 28948136.

  4. Binge Drinking is a serious but preventable problem of excessive alcohol use. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  5. Sundermann AC, Zhao S, Young CL, et al. Alcohol use in pregnancy and miscarriage: a systematic review and meta‐analysisAlcohol Clin Exp Re. 2019;43(8):1606-1616. doi: 10.1111/acer.14124. PMCID: PMC6677630. NIHMSID: NIHMS1035831. PMID: 31194258.

  6. Snopek L, Mlcek J, Sochorova L, et al. Contribution of red wine consumption to human health protectionMolecules. 2018;23(7):1684. doi: 10.3390/molecules23071684. PMID: 29997312.

  7. Xia Zhu, Wenhua Li, Yongkun Li, Wenhua Xu, Yirong Yuan, Victor Zheng, Hanting Zhang, James M. O'Donnell, Ying Xu, Xiaoxing Yin. The antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like effects of resveratrol: Involvement of phosphodiesterase-4D inhibitionNeuropharmacology, 2019; 153: 20 doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2019.04.022.

  8. Basics about FASDs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  9. Alcohol and breastfeeding. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.