When it comes to drinking while pregnant, everyone has an opinion. Whether someone personally thinks it is a good idea, just okay, or should never occur. Pregnant women may refrain from alcoholic beverages while expecting, or they may drink like they always have, not even considering their pregnancy.
It seems that the culture you are brought up in may determine your views on drinking and pregnancy. Where you are from, what country you currently reside in, or which culture you identify with can give details on how you may feel regarding drinking during pregnancy.
Maybe your culture says absolutely not, no alcohol during pregnancy! Or maybe the culture you feel most represented by says that not only is it okay to drink while you are expecting, but it actually has some benefits.
The feelings on drinking during pregnancy vary all across the globe. However, there are select countries that do encourage, or at least have a very high percentage of, women who drink during pregnancy. Read on to discover the cultures in which many pregnant women continue to drink alcohol while they are expecting their baby. The results may shock you, you may agree with a certain country's stance, or you may feel disgusted. Either way, it can be an eye-opener.
14 United Kingdom
British moms enjoy a drink. As many as 41% of mothers drink alcohol while they are pregnant. That is about every four women out of ten that admit to drinking alcoholic beverages while they are expecting a baby. That is almost half of the pregnant population in Britain. It is not a surprise then, that most English mummies think drinking in this country is totally acceptable.
Coincidentally enough, British moms have one of the highest rates of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome across the entire globe. As many as 60% of babies out of every 10,000 are born with some sort of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome issue. While pregnant moms in England may continue to be encouraged to drink, the United Kingdom as recently issued serious warnings, even bans, on drinking while pregnant.
Ireland's stereotype of a land where everyone drinks does not stop with those who are pregnant. Ireland leads the world in the highest rate of women who drink while they are expecting a baby. As many as 60% of pregnant woman partake in drinking during those long nine months. That is more than half of the pregnant population in Ireland!
Studies have indicated that even though the Irish are known for their excessive drinking, it is becoming a large problem among young women. Many young women in Ireland now are drinking more than ever, including binge drinking. It is believed that many of these young women are continuing to drink, even quite a bit, before they even realize there are pregnant. Ireland has begun to issue warnings of the risks of drinking while pregnant, but that may take away to really change anyone's mind among the Irish population.
The Aussies have a good segment of their pregnant population partaking in ingesting alcoholic beverages. More than one third (up to 40%) of expecting mamas drink while they are carrying their little one. Not only do Australian women like to drink, but they really like to binge drink- that is consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time. 10% of Australian women admitted to binge drinking while they were pregnant.
In Australia, the most drinking by pregnant women seems to occur during the first trimester, as the number of pregnant women who drink drop considerably in the second and third trimesters. This may indicate that, in Australia, many women continue to drink before even realizing they are pregnant, and once their pregnancy is known, they stop their alcohol intake.
11 Czech Republic
According to a recent study, up to 37% of pregnant women drink during pregnancy. But, previous studies have shown that as many as 75% of women in the Czech Republic drink alcohol while pregnant, and up to 90% of women in that country have ingested alcoholic beverages the year before becoming pregnant. It seems the Czech people like to drink!
No matter what the true number of women who drink while expecting a baby, it is still high regardless. In the Czech Republic, young women are the primary target for alcohol beverage and drinking advertising. Young women, many whom are of child bearing age, are encouraged to drink. It seems they may also be encouraged to have a few cocktails- alcoholic of course- while they are expecting their little one.
In the past few years, Korea has seen a startling rise in the number of young women who are drinking alcoholic beverages. In traditional Korean society, only men are allowed to drink. Women are not allowed to have any drinks, pregnant or not. As the Korean society has slowly become more modern and keeping up with contemporary societies, women in Korea are beginning to drink more and more, and may be encouraging each other to even drink during their pregnancies.
Korea has seen a dramatic rise in not only the number of women who are drinking, but the number who drink while they are expecting a baby. Korea may not top the list of cultures who encourage drinking while pregnant, but perhaps they are headed in that direction. As of a few years ago, 17% of pregnant Korean moms admitted to drinking alcohol.
9 New Zealand
New Zealand has recently released the numbers of women who have had alcohol while pregnant in their country, and the results are startling. Up to 80% of pregnant women have admitted to drinking alcoholic beverages while carrying their little one. This number may seem alarming to most of us.
Perhaps in New Zealand, drinking is more laid back. It is social (as it is in many countries). Women who smoke seem to also drink, perhaps even both during pregnancy. Women, especially those who are in the early stages and do not look pregnant, are encouraged to drink. Even those who are obviously pregnant may be told, it is okay to have just one. Is it possible that New Zealand tops the world in cultures who encourage drinking during pregnancy? We think it just may be so.
Turns out, in the great land of Russia, they like to drink. A recent study which interviewed women (pregnant and non-pregnant) resulted in 95% of women stating that they had alcoholic beverages over the past year. That is almost every single woman in that country! And it seems drinking while pregnant is not too frowned upon, and may even be encouraged among Russian women.
In Russia, they are aware of the dangers of drinking while pregnant, yet it is believed that many pregnant women do partake in consuming alcoholic beverages. When asked if they drink, it is believed that many women lie to their physicians regarding how much alcohol they have ingested while carrying their unborn child. Over a third of the pregnant population in Russia drinks during pregnancy.
Drinking while pregnant in Bulgaria may be on the low end compared to some of their neighboring countries, but in their culture, drinking may very well be encouraged. Almost a third, 32 percent, of pregnant women in Bulgaria consume alcohol while they are expecting.
The Ministry of Health in Bulgaria has strict guidelines that they hope all pregnant women will follow. They discourage any alcohol consumption during pregnancy, as they show how it can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, yet they go against this by immediately stating that one glass of wine is fine for a woman to consume while she is expecting a baby. They even recommend that women who are trying to get pregnant not drink anything. But apparently, in Bulgaria, drinking a glass of wine a day while pregnant is okay.
Switzerland is like Bulgaria, in that they are on the low end of alcohol consumption by pregnant women, yet they are still high compared to other countries, such as the United States. About a third of pregnant Swiss women drink while they are carrying their unborn child. Even though that is not the highest in the world, it is still quite a high percentage.
Pregnant Swiss women are continuously encouraged to drink, perhaps due to the amount of drinking during pregnancy overall by Europeans. However, Switzerland has declared that many disabilities of babies born in their country is due to the mother consuming alcohol. They have an initiative to inform expecting mothers of the dangers of drinking while pregnant, even stating that their partners and family need to be involved for the sake of the baby. However, drinking during pregnancy continues to be encouraged in Switzerland.
Italians may love their red wine, and even be encouraged to drink wine, and other alcoholic beverages, while they are pregnant. Over a third of pregnant Italian women admit to drinking alcohol during their pregnancy, with over 5 percent saying that they had at least one or two drinks a week throughout their pregnancy.
Their drinking during pregnancy is so encouraged, and appears to be so rampant in Italy that the country has a shock campaign in attempts to convince pregnant women of the immense dangers of drinking while pregnant. No other information seems to stop Italian women from having their glass of wine, so Italy went to a whole other level. They began plastering images of a fetus in a cocktail glass to show just how bad drinking while pregnant can be.
In the Ukraine, a remarkable 34 percent of pregnant women drink alcohol while they are pregnant. However, in a recent study, almost half of women in the Ukraine admitted to having some alcohol, perhaps even as much as three drinks in one sitting, while they were pregnant. Most of the alcohol consumption occurs in the early months, perhaps even before the woman knows she is pregnant.
In the Ukraine, it appears that women are often encouraged to have a drink. While alcohol intake is high during the first month, it does drop during the middle of the pregnancy, more often. However, alcohol consumption in the Ukraine goes back up towards the end of the pregnancy. Clearly, this is a culture that either likes their drinks or does not properly understand the risks involved in drinking during pregnancy.
Denmark is big on having suggestions and recommendations for drinking during pregnancy, it is strongly believed women should not drink at all. Yet, the guidelines are in stark contrast with reality. Almost half of pregnant women in Denmark drink during pregnancy. In fact, they may even be encouraged to have a drink while they are carrying their child.
Denmark has the third highest rate of alcohol consumption among pregnant women in the world. It seems the thinking in Denmark is quite like polar opposites. While the government strongly opposing any drinking, researchers in Denmark say that a drink or two is okay, and may even be good for the mom and baby. Clearly, the pregnant moms, at least half of them, side with the researchers on this issue, and partake in drinking during their pregnancy.
Like their Russian neighbors, pregnant women in Estonia like to drink while they are expecting. While the percentage is not as high as Russia, 35 percent of pregnant women have admitted in drinking during pregnancy in Estonia. Estonia may not be too big of a country, but drinking during pregnancy may very well be encouraged in this culture.
In Estonia, it is recommended that pregnant women stay away from consuming large amounts of alcohol. Well, what constitutes a large amount? That may be different for each woman. Despite the known risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant, it appears that in Estonia, many women dismiss the findings of how serious fetal alcohol syndrome can be, and continue to ingest alcoholic beverages as if it is no big deal, or even encouraged to do so.
Apparently, in France, not only are women encouraged to drink during pregnancy, but the government of France does little or nothing to inform French women of the dangers of drinking while pregnant. France does not make the top ten list for drinking during pregnancy, but most French women admit to consuming alcohol while they are expecting a baby. In fact, the amount of French women who have stated they had a least one alcoholic beverage during their nine months is believed to be over 90 percent!
French women may enjoy a glass of wine or some other drink with a meal or when they gather with friends, whether they are pregnant or not. Perhaps in France, pregnant women don't wish to change their lifestyle too much once they become pregnant, and will either continue to drink, or have the occasional alcoholic beverage.
Sources: Forbes.com, The Lancet Global Health, ncbi.nlm.gov, Telegraph.uk.gov, NZherald, iard.org