Craving Alcohol While Pregnant (Why It Happens & Should You Worry?)

One of the main things that you have to give up during pregnancy is drinking alcohol. This can be hard, especially if you are used to drinking a glass of wine to unwind after a long day of work. Medical experts and studies have reiterated that alcohol is bad during pregnancy but what should you do when you have a sudden craving for alcohol and should you worry about it?

The CDC released guidelines against alcohol consumption for pregnant women and those who are thinking of getting pregnant. Alcohol cravings are normal but you should not consume alcohol at any stage of your pregnancy. Alcohol consumption can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which can affect fetal development and cognitive-behavioral issues.

Keep reading as we find out why pregnant women may sometimes crave alcohol and what to do when this happens.

Is it normal to crave alcohol while pregnant?

According to a study published by the Journal of Science Translational Medicine, drinking alcohol releases endorphins which are chemical receptors in your brain. Endorphins cause feelings of pleasure, making people crave alcohol to feel better or relieve stress after a long day of work.

The same principle applies when you are pregnant and possibly even magnified because of your hormones raging through your body. It is completely normal to crave alcohol while pregnant, especially if you are used to going out for drinks with friends to socialize or having an occasional nightcap before going to bed.  

Cravings during pregnancies are thought to be caused by psychological reasons. Pregnancy can be extremely uncomfortable which will cause you to look for food or drinks that will make you feel better. Besides alcohol, common cravings include comfort food or foods that are high in calories or fat.

Is craving alcohol bad for pregnancy?

The actual feeling of craving is not bad especially when you are pregnant because pregnancy can be extremely uncomfortable and craving something is a way of your body telling you that it is wanting something familiar and that gives a sense of pleasure or happiness.

The actual urge to have a glass of wine or a beer is not bad and is completely normal, but how you act with this craving is a different matter. Alcohol can affect your pregnancy and the development of your baby negatively so it is best to stay away completely. 

Consuming alcohol while pregnant is a big no-no, regardless if you are drinking a small amount like a glass of wine.

What can you drink instead of alcohol?

If you can’t curb the craving for alcohol, you can get the taste of it without the alcoholic content by drinking a non-alcoholic version of your favorite alcoholic drink.

If you are craving an ice-cold beer especially on a hot, summer day, you can find a variety of non-alcoholic beers in your local grocery stores. If you are in a restaurant or bar and everybody around you is drinking, you can join in on the fun by ordering mocktails (the trendy name for the virgin version) of your favorite drink. 

For example, if you like a classic Lemon Drop, try mixing up lemon juice, seltzer, and a little bit of simple syrup. The trick here is to serve it in the same sugar-rimmed martini glass you would the classic (don’t forget the lemon peel garnish!) – setting the scene will go a long way toward convincing your mind that you’re indulging even without the alcohol.

There are a plethora of choices out there that you can opt for including having flavored water or plain sparkling water with a twist of lime or lemon to give you that “alcoholic” drink taste but not with the alcohol content. If you are craving champagne, opt for a sparkling cider instead.

There is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy

According to multiple studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), binge drinking during pregnancy has led to cognitive issues in children with ages ranging from 6 months to 14 years. In this study, binge drinking is defined as more than 4 drinks per one occasion.

In a separate but connected study conducted by the CDC, pregnant women who subject themselves to moderate drinking lead to behavioral problems for children with ages from 9 months to 5 years. Moderate drinking is defined as individuals who consumed up to 6 alcoholic drinks per week, with a minimum of at least 3 drinks per week.

You probably think that one alcoholic drink might be harmless, but the same study said that drinking alcohol even at low levels can increase your child’s behavioral problems. There is no guaranteed safe level of alcohol that you can consume while pregnant or even when you are trying to become pregnant.

You should avoid all kinds of alcohol which includes wine, beer, and liquor. Alcohol can cause problems with your baby’s fetal development, including the time before you even find out you are pregnant. If you are trying to get pregnant, there is a timeframe of 4-6 weeks before you can find out if you are pregnant so it is best to stay away from alcohol during this timeframe as well.

According to the Mayo Clinic, women are strongly advised against consuming alcoholic beverages regardless of the stage of pregnancy because of the increased risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. This syndrome is a condition that a child develops because of exposure to alcohol during pregnancy which can cause brain damage and growth problems.

Fetal alcohol syndrome can affect any child with varying degrees of severity and the defect caused by this syndrome is not reversible. Symptoms can include behavioral and cognitive problems, brain and central nervous system issues, and social and behavioral issues.

If you suspect that your child might be suffering from this, it is important to talk to your doctor to discuss your concerns.

Will a sip of beer or wine hurt your baby?

You have to keep in mind that anything that you consume while you are pregnant will pass to the baby through the umbilical cord which is why you have to be careful of what you eat or drink during pregnancy.

Even a sip of beer or wine can travel through the umbilical cord and affect your baby. Drinking alcohol can cause problems and interfere with baby development especially during the first three months because this is the timeframe that your baby grows and develops.

Drinking alcohol within the first three months might cause facial abnormalities in your baby. On the other hand, drinking throughout your pregnancy regardless of the stage can cause low birth weight and behavioral problems.

What does it mean if you crave alcohol during pregnancy?

There are a lot of wives’ tales that come with food cravings when you are pregnant.

When you crave alcohol during pregnancy you might be craving for the actual taste of alcohol but more importantly, you are probably craving the feeling that comes with socially drinking. Alcohol is embedded in our lives as a way to celebrate milestones or even as a source of enjoyment when you are out with friends. 

Alcohol makes you more comfortable and loosens up your inhibitions which is why you end up craving it. And the fact that you cannot have alcohol will make you want it more.

Regardless of how strong your cravings are, consuming alcohol during pregnancy is not recommended.

Does craving alcohol while pregnant mean it’s a boy or girl?

There is an old wives’ tale saying that if you crave beer, you are more likely to have a boy whereas if you crave more fruity or sweet drinks, you are more likely to have a girl.

Your cravings do not dictate the gender of your baby, even though it’s fun to speculate and compare notes with other pregnant women.

If you want to learn more, I have a HUGE list of the most common pregnancy cravings just for you!

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