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I Drank Beer While Pregnant

Photograph by Twenty20

I threw back a few beers when I was pregnant with both my kids. I didn’t drink on a daily basis, and I never got hammered. But the few cold ones I imbibed were actually okayed by my Ob-Gyn. She told me there was nothing wrong with a drink here or there, including a small glass of ice-cold beer or a half-glass of wine, during pregnancy.

At the time, I lived in Seville, in the south of Spain. Nobody gave me dirty looks or ever questioned whether it was OK for me to be drinking while pregnant. In fact, I remember toasting to our babies with other moms-to-be. Definitely a different culture. I remember that when my eldest was 2, they even served brandy and other alcoholic beverages to the parents at the daycare’s holiday performance—at 10 a.m.! Good thing I don't like brandy!

I may as well confess other things I did while pregnant that I'm sure a doctor in the U.S. would chew me out for and moms will probably judge me for, too.

1. I had Valium once during both my pregnancies.

And no, I didn't pop it on my own. The doctor prescribed it. I was told to take one on an empty stomach early in the morning, before each of my two amnios. I was ecstatic! I was pretty woozy and feeling great during what is a potentially nerve-wracking procedure. It was supposed to help the baby chill. That way she wouldn't risk being stabbed with the amnio needle.

I've asked around and not all moms in Spain have been drugged for their amniocentesis, but I was certainly a happy camper. The Valium helped calm any jitters I might have had for the rest of the day during bedrest, over the risk of losing the baby because of the procedure (it's a very small risk, but a risk nonetheless).

2. I dyed my hair every three months.

I would spend at least three or four hours at the hairdresser getting my highlights touched up. Once again I was given a bright green light by my Ob-Gyn. She told me that highlights were not a big deal and that she was sure they even would cheer me up. My kids were both born fine and I made sure to do my hair a few days before each of my due dates, as I knew that I would most likely not have time to see my stylist after the babies were born. Let me tell you, I was not the only pregnant woman in the salon.

3. I also inhaled plenty of second-hand smoke.

During my first pregnancy, smoking was still OK in public places in Spain. I remember asking a lady at a restaurant to please blow her cigarette smoke in a different direction, as I was tearing up. She was not happy about that and made it known pretty loudly. Back then, the restaurant couldn't do anything about it, but at least they were kind enough to move me to a different seat. As much as cigarette smoke disgusted me when I was pregnant, it was really really hard to avoid.

My kids are now 16 and 13. They're both strong, healthy girls, and apparently none of the above has affected them in any way. I understand that if I were pregnant now, and if that happened in the U.S. things would be quite different. But I'm grateful that I got to enjoy some of the perks of being an expectant mom in a culture that gives pregnant ladies a break or two.