Government Warning: According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcohol during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.We all know about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the irreversible brain damage that results from prenatal exposure to alcohol. The problem is, nobody is sure how much alcohol it takes to do how much harm, and nobody is in a hurry to do an in-depth study on it. With the medical community in a state of permanent indecision about how much alcohol can safely be consumed by a pregnant woman (they can't exactly tell fifty expecting mothers to go on a bender and see what happens), the only thing certain is that "none" is definitely less than whatever the "safe" amount is. This leads many women and doctors to advise that they play it safe and swear off the booze entirely as soon as they miss their first period. Fair enough, but many TV shows take this to ridiculous lengths. Comedy series especially hang entire scenes on the pregnant woman desperately avoiding taking even a single sip of the wine offered, as if even a single drop of alcohol will irreparably harm the helpless little fetus. Conversely, the second a person serving drinks learns that the woman getting one is pregnant will be the one where you see the server stopping the pouring faster than you can imagine. Somehow it's always in a situation where not drinking alcohol would be suspicious or unacceptable. The woman is convinced that ordering a Shirley Temple at the bar will cause everyone to shout, "AHA! You're pregnant!" when it's supposed to be a secret - and sometimes that is exactly how the pregnancy becomes known. This requires huge leaps of logic from the other people, instead of assuming the woman simply wants water or a soft drink, or doesn't drink alcohol for other reasons (religion, medical, personal taste, etc.). Even more ridiculous situations tend to arise when a character is Mistaken for Pregnant and the other characters desperately try to stop her from drinking without revealing that they "know." An example of Truth in Television. A survey of U.S. bar workers confirms that most would refuse point blank to serve an alcoholic drink to a visibly pregnant woman.
— Warning label found on all alcoholic beverages in the United States.
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- In a case of Artistic License – Biology, Greyshirt features a girl born with Down Syndrome as a result of her mother boozing while pregnant. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one thing, but Down's Syndrome is a genetic condition and has nothing to do with the mother drinking during pregnancy. While it's entirely possible a baby could have both, the two are in no way equivalent.
- In the Furry Comic Shanda The Panda, the major character Missy is a classic case of being a reasonably functional victim of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome courtesy of her cold-hearted mother, who refused to stop drinking during her pregnancy.
- Averted in the Iron Man comic 181 that had the pregnant Gretl drinking at a bar just a few hours before she gave birth to a baby. The baby seemed to be fine, and this is is actually Truth in Television, since exposure to alcohol is mostly a long-term developmental issue. In fact, before some modern drugs were invented, alcohol was used as a way to stop premature labor. If it didn't work then the kid would be born drunk (and still premature) but otherwise fine.
- In the Total Drama story, Legacy, Duncan offers to share his lunch with Heather, but she has to find her own beverage because all Duncan has is beer. For the sake of her 8-month fetus, Heather is unwilling to drink anything alcoholic.
- In the Harry Potter fanfic "Foolish" by Tonksaholic, there is a potion called thead that "...mimics the effects of alcohol. Normally, it's not dangerous, but it interacts violently with the hormones produced during pregnancy..."
- Subverted in My Inner Life. There's a scene where Jenna (pregnant with her second child) and Link visit a griffin city and drink a lot of some alcoholic drink that's apparently very potent. Not only does Jenna not think twice about getting heavily drunk while pregnant, but neither Link nor the griffin who brings them the alcohol show any misgivings about a woman who should be visibly pregnant getting hammered. Given that Jenna also rides her horse for long distances, crosses an incredibly dangerous desert, and fights a dragon while pregnant and nothing is said of it, it's entirely possible the author simply forgot.
- Parodied at the beginning of Die Hard: Holly's heavily pregnant secretary is leaving to go to the staff Christmas party, and wonders if a sip of alcohol will harm the baby. Wryly, Holly says "I think that baby's ready to tend bar."
- Subverted in While You Were Sleeping, when Jack points out - loudly, in front of all her friends - that the glass of champagne that Lucy is intending on having at a New Year's Eve party will be 'unhealthy for the baby'. Unfortunately for both, this is a case of Mistaken for Pregnant, and thus results in a very humiliating New Year's Eve for Lucy and a lot of apologizing required from Jack.
- In Juno, the title character shocks the prospective adoptive parents of her child by requesting bourbon whiskey at their first meeting, even more so since she's also 16.
"Ah, yes, the classic sense of humor. Just one of Juno's many genetic gifts."
- Parodied in the 2007 Hairspray adaptation. When Tracy and Edna are on their way to the clothing store, they pass a bar where a group of visibly pregnant women are smoking and making a toast "to the future" (it's set in The '60s, when people presumably didn't know the effect smoking and drinking had on fetuses).
- Played apparently straight in Italian For Beginners. Two long-lost sisters discover each other at the funeral of their father, shortly before their alcoholic mother died. The younger sister is so clumsy she can't hold down a job. The older sisters' nurse friend says this may well be fetal alcohol poisoning. It's then subverted in that the mother is treated for alcohol-related disease earlier in the movie.
- In the film In Her Shoes, Maggie gets her sister's boyfriend to turn up for a reconciliation by pretending the sister is pregnant. He finds her with a drink in her hands. Maggie delays the inevitable denouement by grabbing the drink and pretending it's hers.
- The Way We Were averted this. Values Dissonance hits the movie hard when we see the visibly pregnant Katie holding a cigarette in one hand, and a glass of liquor in the other.
- There was similar Values Dissonance in Skyjacked, which has a visibly pregnant passenger order a Bloody Mary on the the rocks.
- In Lajja, Janki drinks to ease her stage fright, despite being 2 months pregnant, and laughs it off when Vaidehi gives her a What the Hell, Hero?.
- In The Cider House Rules, Fuzzy's mother was an alcoholic, and as a result he suffered heart damage and breathing problems, which confine him to his oxygen tent.
- Subverted in the film Blackboard Jungle. At a restaurant the protagonist pours his four-months-pregnant wife a cup of champagne. The wife only reacts in mild surprise that she's allowed to eat spaghetti and champagne while pregnant. She previously had a miscarriage but doesn't worry what alcohol could do to her current child. Values Dissonance is probably the reason, as the film is from 1955.
- Inverted in Robertson Davies' The Lyre Of Orpheus, where Maria drinks milk with rum in it while pregnant on the advice of her doctor (to help her sleep). The possibility of FAS is only brought up by a character who's treated as a crazy hippie by the narrative, and in fact the doctor seems more concerned that Maria might put on too much weight from drinking milk! (We now know that it is very important for pregnant women to consume plenty of calcium to help the foetus's skeleton develop.) While it's true that drinking in very small amounts is unlikely to harm a foetus, it's equally unlikely that a doctor would recommend it.
- Used straight in Brave New World to explain how slaves were created: fetuses destined to be Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are regularly administered alcohol for the sole purpose of making them shorter, weaker, and less intelligent than Alphas and Betas. A nasty rumour about the character Bernard Marx (an Alpha) claims that he is short because someone spilled alcohol in his gestation bottle, since pregnancy as we know it is nonexistent in the world of Huxley's novel and people are grown in artificial vats. And yes, alcohol introduced directly into the gestation environment is a poison. Ironically, Brave New World was written years before Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was widely understood. Huxley was even criticized for the idea that alcohol could harm a fetus.
- Averted in Empire Of Ivory, book 4 of the Temeraire series, with Harcourt. The character still avoids drinking wine, claiming that it upsets her stomach. This skirts implausibility, as the novel is set during the Napoleonic Wars, a time period when drinking plain unboiled water (which was always contaminated with bacteria, including Listeria) was immensely more dangerous to mother and fetus than drinking wine could ever be.
- Averted in Fifty Shades of Grey, after Anastasia learns that she's pregnant. Christian heavily frowns at a glass of champagne she's holding at a welcome party, but Grace, her mother-in-law and a doctor, tells Anastasia that 'a little sip' is fine now and then.
- Referenced in the 1632 series, by Eric Flint. A doctor who (along with a modern small American town) had been forcibly sent into the 1600s explained that while drinking alcohol was a bad idea, the lack of sanitation made drinking potentially contaminated water a greater threat to the baby. She suggested well-watered wine and boiled water when possible.
- In Dan Savage's The Kid, an autobiographical novella telling the story of his and his partner's attempt to adopt a child, they were at first worried when they found out that the young woman who was going to give up her child for them to adopt had not known she was pregnant for the first several weeks and had a lifestyle that was heavy in drinking beer (as well as smoking and the occasional joint), though she'd stopped immediately upon finding out. He and his partner nearly work themselves into a frenzy researching the possibility that they could get a kid with fetal alcohol syndrome... until they notice how some FAS information websites list restlessness and moodiness in teenagers, among other perfectly normal behavior for children of all ages, as "symptoms"—and that some of them could easily apply to ADHD. They come to the conclusion that if the child does have FAS, they'll deal, but that the risk is probably less than advertised.
- A Farewell to Arms had Catherine argue for drinking when she's pregnant, on the grounds that she's petite and alcohol will make the baby smaller, easing the birth. Since this was written in 1929 (and set in World War I) Values Dissonance/Science Marches On is no doubt in effect. (Though both Catherine and the baby suffer Death by Childbirth, so maybe Hemingway was ahead of his time?)
- In Barrayar, Cordelia passes up some wine, noting internally that she's sworn off "all metabolic poisons" while pregnant. Although, given Barrayar has only recently regained full contact with galactic civilization, it may be that she's wise in her decisions. Also, as a Betan, she's unfamiliar with in vivo pregnancy and may have some superstitious fear of the state.
- Used in The Number of the Beast. About two months into their pregnancies, Deety and Hilda wonder if a single drink would harm their fetuses (they've just had an I Need a Freaking Drink moment). The agreement is that they're probably safe.
- In Colby Rodowsky's Lucy Peale the pregnant runaway teenage title character asked another character for a beer because she couldn't stomach milk and he replied "I remember from my sister that beer's not—that you're not supposed to have it. I mean, if there's a baby and all."
- In Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley novel Just One Evil Act, Angelina Upman is on Italian TV with her former and current boyfriends pleading for information on her missing daughter, and initially does not partake when her current boyfriend offers wine to the police and media there. Then her former boyfriend (who is a Muslim and doesn't drink anyway) asks if she wants some, but as she reaches for it her current boyfriend yells that she shouldn't "during this time especially" and everyone nearby instantly figures out that this means she's pregnant. In an earlier scene when Lynley met with her he observed that she had water while the rest of them had wine, but didn't think much of it until her boyfriend's outburst. In the end this trope ends up double subverted since technically that one drink did kill the baby — and the mother, since it turned out it had been laced with E. Coli by the current boyfriend, who didn't realize that the former boyfriend didn't drink and intended it for him to get him out of the way.
- In the Thursday Next book, The Well of Lost Plots, Thursday is pregnant — but a mental attack from an old nemesis is making her forget that fact. In the midst of wondering just why her pants are all so tight these days, she damn near guzzles a bottle of wine. When she realizes what happened later, she's worried until her grandmother points out that she threw up immediately afterward anyway.
- In My Sweet Audrina by V. C. Andrews, Audrina's mother Lucky hosts a weekly afternoon tea (actually twice a week, in order to make Audrina think that time is passing more quickly than it is) at which she takes a large amount of bourbon in her tea. When she gets pregnant, Audrina's father warns Lucky to stop drinking and even beats her to try to make her stop; but she doesn't. Subsequently, she dies giving birth and Audrina's sister Sylvia is born severely disabled. Audrina is sorry for Lucky but convinced that Sylvia's disability is a result of the drinking.
- In the Adrian Mole books, Adrian's girlfriend (whom he'd been planning to leave) announces that she's pregnant. He orders a drink to cope with the stress and offers one to her, but she reacts with horror at the suggestion of drinking during her pregnancy. Adrian notes that his mother evidently didn't think it a problem, as she drank three cans of Guinness a night when she was pregnant with him.
- In Going Too Far by Catherine Alliott, protagonist Polly believes she's had a one-night-stand with a married man. Subsequently, when she discovers she's pregnant, she hesitates to drink whilst in a pub. Her companion instantly guesses Polly is pregnant, but Polly, not wanting her secret to come out, lies that she's just trying to be healthier.
- In Addicted, this is Connor's reaction when Rose almost downs a shot of tequila while pregnant. He knew about the pregnancy, despite her not telling him, and was trying to make her confess by offering her a drink. She almost took his offer.
Live Action TV
- 30 Rock: Avery picks up a glass of champagne at a wedding and then puts it down again saying she can't drink.
- Friends: When Rachel first finds out she's pregnant, it's the morning of Chandler and Monica's wedding. Throughout the reception, every time she absently picks up a glass of champagne and takes a sip she spits it out and eventually tells Monica to take the drink off her. However, it does become a long-term plotline that, as a first time mother, she lacks a lot of real knowledge about pregnancy and parenthood, she gets a lot of things wrong and panics easily about even the smallest things.
- Inverted, as the only person who doesn't know Carla is pregnant is Carla herself and she is trying to drink a glass of wine. JD and Turk are constantly "spilling" it, distracting her and generally attempting to prevent even a single sip from passing her lips.
- Averted with Kim, who mentions that she's allowed to have a half-glass of wine every night while pregnant.
- Played straight when Dr. Cox had just reunited with his pregnant ex-wife and poured two glasses of scotch. She makes mention that she's pregnant and he says "Yeah, they're both for me."
- Played with in an episode of Titus. Titus's sister is pregnant, but he doesn't know that yet. When she turns down a drink, he assumes it's because she has an alcohol problem.
- Plenty of examples in How I Met Your Mother:
- In the season 2 finale, Barney sees Robin drinking water at a wedding reception, and jumps to the conclusion that she must be pregnant. Hijinks Ensue. It turns out she's not pregnant, and just happened to be drinking water. Possibly justified in that Ted had told him that something big had happened between him and Robin (part of the story of which involved them having unprotected sex).
- Played straight with Lily in the season 7 opener, where the group attends a wedding and Lily secretly hands her drink to Marshall. It's revealed near the end that the bride was also pregnant, and was handing her drinks to the groom.
- Subverted with Lily later. Her doctor says she can drink and eat all sorts of things typically frowned upon during pregnancy as long as it's "just a little bit". Ted and Marshall frown at this but Lily gladly enjoys the occasional sip of wine or piece of sushi.
- When Robin and Barney have a pregnancy scare, he gets himself a scotch and her an iced tea. After realizing he gave her the wrong drink, he has to practically break her fingers to get the scotch out of her hands.
- In season 9 turns out Lily is pregnant again. However, she's visibly drinking in pretty much every scene. A flashback shows the scene with her placing her standing order from the beginning of the season, but expands it with her specifying that she'd like non-alcoholic drinks, because she thinks she might be pregnant. It's not even confirmed until days later. This creates a Plot Hole itself, since she was ostensibly drinking to deal with the stress of missing her husband and child, but if its not alcohol why did she need constant drinks? Was the stress just making her thirsty?
- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip included a variation in which a character's pregnancy was revealed when she refused a voluntary vaccination because the vaccine had a chance to harm her child.
- On Desperate Housewives:
- Pregnant Susan takes a tiny sip of her daughter's drink to see if it's alcohol (it's not) and no big deal was made of it on the show. The forumers, however, seemed to think this was a tremendous and insane risk, probably because they see this trope so much on tv.
- Desperate Housewives later plays this straight with Lynette trying to hide her pregnancy by having her husband quickly down her glass of wine when the others are looking away. Naturally, they assume she really likes it and keep pouring her more until Tom is completely drunk.
- A similar event occurs on Glee, even though it was half a glass of champagne to celebrate! And she wasn't even pregnant!
- In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a man seeks to have his estranged, pregnant wife incarcerated or committed to stop her from drinking. Benson initially sides with her, but as the story develops it becomes clear the woman really is an alcoholic and earlier had a daughter, given up for adoption, who is mentally retarded from fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Mad About You:
- Shortly after Jamie and Paul realize she is pregnant, she almost drinks a sip of wine in a toast, and stops, looking as though she narrowly avoided drinking cyanide. Her OB/GYN is there, and excuses Jamie's behavior by saying she is taking antibiotics.
- Jamie also acts this way about a sip of caffeinated coffee, which she is desperate to spit out, which is an even more exaggerated variation of this trope—while a pregnant woman (or anyone else) shouldn't drink caffeine in excess, the most restrictive medical guideline is that she can get away with 200mg a day, or slightly less than three shots of espresso.
- Played with in the American version of Men Behaving Badly, where Rob Schneider's character helps women give birth quickly by bragging while they're in labor about being able to drink.
- Referenced in an episode of Stark Raving Mad. Tess (who narrates the episode) makes this remark when Jake does a ridiculous dance: "Jake Donovan. His mother insists there was nothing wrong with chain smoking, drinking whiskey and riding roller coasters while pregnant. You be the judge."
- Inverted in the pilot episode of Quantum Leap. A woman goes into early labor and, in 1956, the only available treatment is essentially to get her drunk. It stopped the labor and saved the lives of mother and child.
- Dallas averted this one hard. Sue Ellen drank to excess during her entire pregnancy, eventually driving a car into a telephone pole while under the influence, and gave birth to a healthy, albeit premature, baby boy.
- Averted on Mad Men: Betty Draper definitely drinks (and smokes!) while pregnant with her son Eugene (seasons 2-3), and Peggy Olson's drinking isn't mentioned to have done anything to her son (although she didn't know she was pregnant, and the baby has been more or less out of the picture ever since).
- Played for laughs in an episode: Susan, Sally and Jane all take pregnancy tests, with Susan and Jane showing solidarity with Sally; however, one of them turns up positive, but they get mixed up ( it's Susan). The ladies return to their table, pour a glass of wine, raise it... and put it down right before it touches their lips, just in case.
- Subverted a second later. Susan, the one who turns out to be pregnant, takes a drink and says it can't be her because she's been trying to conceive a child for a while, and her doctor had told her she'd 'need a miracle'.
- Kari Byron in Mythbusters was banned from taking part in a hangover myth test during her third trimester. But considering that this test involved drinking enough to get hungover twice, that's definitely enough booze to cause problems.
- Parodied in a 1992 Saturday Night Live sketch with Victoria Jackson as a pregnant housewife, Phil Hartman as her overprotective husband, and Woody Harrelson as the permissive neighbour. The neighbour offers her Irish coffee, but she swears off based on this trope. He convinces her because it's Irish coffee, the effects of the caffeine and alcohol should cancel each other out, whereupon she gulps down three cups. She then proceeds to irradiate her stomach with the microwave and fall down a flight of stairs. At the end, Jon Lovitz claims the previous bit was a true story about his mother, and offers a PSA on the importance of pre-natal care before shamelessly plugging Please Watch the Jon Lovitz Special.
- The Office (US) does this at Pam and Jim's wedding, where it is (!) Played for Drama as follows: Pam was already pregnant (as you might have guessed), but they avoided telling her very-conservative grandmother about this fact. When the toast is called the night before the actual wedding, Jim invites everyone "except Pam of course" to raise their wine in a toast. Everybody catches on the way he phrased that, and though he tries to cover it up, they quickly figure out what's going on and Grandma is not amused. In an interesting role reversal, generally inappropriate Michael winds up smoothing over Jim's gaffe.
- Subverted and Played for Drama on Smallville, in which Lana faints after having some white wine and loses her baby. However, she was never really pregnant; Lex had slipped her hormones to make her think she was. The wine was drugged in order to remove the evidence after they had been married.
- Played straight once on Mercy when Veronica, a known heavy drinker, takes a break from drinking on the advice of a therapist. Veronica's mother, upon the daughter's refusal of an offered glass of wine, assumes she is pregnant.
- In Para Pencari Tuhan, Baha The Alcoholic put some alcohol into kecap (soy sauce) bottles. Asrul's family accidentally consumes it and the newborn baby died almost instantly.
- In Bones Booth finds out that Angela is pregnant because she slips that she can't drink wine anymore.
- In L.A. Law Roxanne is pregnant, and requests a drink from the young waitstaff. They refuse to serve her, and chide her on endangering her baby. Her date blows up and calls them 'sanctimonious pisspots' for refusing to serve one drink to an adult woman. Roxanne ends up re-marrying this man that stood up for her.
- Averted in Doctor Who: Amy Pond has no trouble sipping a glass of red wine at a picnic early enough in her pregnancy that she hasn't even started to show. Certain elements of the fandom, however, practically went ballistic over it, sure that it had to be either a clue that she wasn't really pregnant, or a sign that she was bound to be a terrible, negligent mother (and a terrible human being to boot). Of course, she didn't think she was pregnant at the time, which turned out to be sort of correct, since she'd been swapped out with a mind-linked copy earlier that had been programmed to not show any signs of pregnancy so as to not alert her companions to her capture and the possible uberchild she carried. Needless to say, that didn't work out as planned...
- Made much funnier because when (mainly American) fans asked the writers of that episode why Amy was drinking a glass of wine while pregnant, their response was along the lines of "... because she's Scottish?"
- Averted in Weeds Season 4 finale, Nancy goes on a bender drinking anything she wants before she sees Esteban to possibly be killed. She later admits she's pregnant.
- Averted in Boardwalk Empire; Lucy smokes and drinks while in her third trimester because of Deliberate Values Dissonance. Margaret doesn't touch a drop, but that has more to do with the fact that she's an active member of the Temperance League at the time.
- Justified in Fringe. The alternate Olivia Dunham greets her partner on his return home with a glass of wine for him and a similar glass of water for herself. That would be a dead giveaway in most other shows, but we've already seen that she doesn't like alcohol. The episode later reveals that she is pregnant, making the water a kind of anti-red herring.
- Parodied on Roseanne.
Jackie: I can't believe Mom drank while she was pregnant with us.
Roseanne: Eh, after being inside Mom for a few months we probably needed a good drink.
- Mentioned (without resolution) in Freaks and Geeks, in the Episode where Bill accidentally eats a peanut. He's severely allergic. In the waiting room, Bill's mother mentions she blames herself for his allergies, because she drank and popped pills during her pregnancy.
- Bridget in Ringer was a recovering alcoholic, but she couldn't let anyone know because she was posing as her sister Siobahn, who was a typical social drinker. She used the trope as her excuse not to drink.
- Sookie on Gilmore Girls sent her husband Jackson off to have a vasectomy right after the birth of their second child (they'd both decided they only wanted two, and she didn't want to take chances). A while later, they came home early from a date because Jackson had ruined it by not letting her ski and spilling her wine at dinner. He confessed to Lorelei that he hadn't had the vasectomy and feared she might be pregnant again.
- Averted quite thoroughly in the British Broadchurch and the American remake Gracepoint. Beth finds out she's pregnant and, still grieving over the loss of her son, isn't sure she wants to keep the baby. She drinks a fair bit, possibly indicative of her developing a drinking problem to cope with her grief. She is shown drinking less once she officially decides to keep the baby, but that could just be the result of lack of time to show such things in the later episodes.
- The Misfits finale has Jess drinking orange juice in the final scene while the other four drink lager, due to the fact that she believes she may have just conceived the baby she saw herself with in the future. It's an unusual mash-up of realistic and unrealistic aspects of this trope - since she's hoping to become pregnant in the near future, if she isn't already, giving up drinking would be medically advised; however, she believes herself to be a few hours pregnant at most, a stage so early that most pregnant women (including Jess, had she not seen the future) wouldn't even know about it, and would probably still be drinking as normal.
- Earlier on, Marnie in the Series 2 Christmas special develops an elaborate prediction of how her relationship with Nathan would develop if they were to go for a drink at the bar right there and then, but ends (mock-sadly) by pointing to her baby bump and pointing out that she can't drink. Since it turns out she's only a couple of days away from giving birth, she would have to drink an epic amount to do any real harm to the baby.
- Referenced in Charmed during Piper's first pregnancy (the second having been largely glossed over with a Time Skip in order to coincide with Holly Marie Combs' real-life pregnancy). When 'pre-natal police' Paige saw what she assumed to be an alcoholic beverage in Piper's hand at one point, she needed to be assured that it was mineral water.
- On Community Ian Duncan invites the class to share a toast with him at the end of the school year. Shirley turns it down because she's "withchild". Ben Chang, who thinks the baby is his, tries to reassure her that Chang babies love sauce - alcohol and duck.
- In a Hollyoaks storyline, pregnant Maxine's abusive fiance Patrick orders her not to go on a night out with friends; trying to make her feel selfish and irresponsible for even thinking of drinking or partying while she's pregnant. Maxine rebels by going on a drunken night out, but ends up falling down stairs and getting hurt, putting the baby in danger. Patrick uses this to "prove" that she is an unfit mother.
- In the Silent Witness episode "Safe", after a gang leader is murdered, the post-mortem reveals that he had very clear signs of FAS which contributed to his crimes (because the part of his brain that should have dealt with morality was severely damaged.) His rich and snobbish mother, who had been trying to sue the police over her son's death, withdraws her claim after being shown the evidence that she had drunk heavily during her pregnancy.
- Played straight on Days of Our Lives when a pregnant mother's excessive drinking results in a very sickly baby.
- A bizarre version on As the World Turns, when Lily and Holden's baby is found to have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. They are confused, as Lily did not drink while she was pregnant, and eventually irrationally blame it on a gas leak that Lily was exposed to during her pregnancy. Never mind that gas and alcohol are two entirely different things and that Lily was exposed to the gas once, rather than the continuous exposure that would be necessary to produce any ill effects. In true Soap Opera style, it turns out the baby isn't Lily and Holden's after all. She was switched at birth with another, whose mother DID drink while pregnant, resulting in the FAS, ultimately playing the trope straight after all.
- Referred to on ER, when Susan offers Elizabeth a cup of coffee. Elizabeth snaps at her, "I don't drink coffee, I'm breastfeeding" before storming off. Of course, Elizabeth's real goal was to inform Susan that she was the mother of Mark's child and that Susan should stay away from him, but she still gives off the attitude that ingesting any caffeine would be detrimental to her infant.
- Subverted in other instances. Despite several cases of pregnant women being drug users, smokers, and even one case where a cancer-stricken mother was also receiving chemotherapy, all babies were born healthy.
Religion and Mythology
- In the Book of Judges, Samson's mother is told by an angel not to drink wine or beer during her pregnancy with him. This had less to do with the physical health/safety/well-being of the baby note , however, than the fact that he was to become a Nazirite Because Destiny Says So. In other words, his spiritual well-being. The Nazirites were a group of Jewish ascetics, who (among other things) were not supposed to drink alcohol, or even to consume (unfermented) grapes.
- Harvest Moon:
- Amusingly averted in the Harvest Moon games, where one of the women (Karen pictured above) whom the player can marry will mistake morning sickness for a bad hangover. Not only that, but in Harvest Moon 64 one of the requirements for marrying her is beating her in a drinking contest, requiring you to build up your tolerance with repeated alcohol purchases.
- In many of the Distaff Counterpart games (and later just the games period once being able to choose your gender was implemented), your player character herself can drink as much alcohol as you wish while pregnant, without any harm whatsoever. There is at least one game where your husband will insist that, in your case, there's no way that a little alcohol is any danger to you or the baby. This is because, by that point, you are heavily pregnant and have still managed to keep the farm running practically single-handed, all without the slightest hint of ill-health.
- In The Sims 2, a pregnant woman can make and serve drinks, but not have one herself, note despite the fact that they're "juice drinks", and the developers otherwise deliberately avoid insinuating that they might be alcoholic in order to keep the rating down.
- Averted in Dwarf Fortress, where all dwarves, including the children, have to drink booze, or else the alcohol withdrawal will stress them out and make them work at sluggish paces. In fact, no special treatment is given to pregnant females there at all; they'll work on and just casually give birth without missing a beat. Doesn't matter if they were in the middle of digging, or hauling something, or even if they were in the middle of fighting an invading goblin horde.
- Averted in Chrono Trigger, in part because the character didn't know at the time. Ayla gets completely smashed at the welcome party she throws for Crono, and despite waking up much the worse for wear, manages to go on a dungeon raid with him the next day before finally losing it and throwing up. Only at the very end of the game is it alluded to that it might have been morning sickness rather than a hangover, and Ayla certainly doesn't act like she's about to dial it back any.
- In one strip of Muertitos, Angel-Pie Hova complains at one point that her mom didn't drink enough during the pregnancy that produced her, because she could really have used a third arm at the time.
- In Drowtales, a visibly pregnant Zala'ess Vel'Sharen is seen imbibing some very expensive liquor at one point during a peace negotiation. This naturally caused some concern on the comic's forums and a lively debate on the subject. In retrospect this was probably a clue that it was a Fake Pregnancy.
- Failblog once featured a scan of a picture from a newspaper article. The caption stated that the pictured woman was pregnant and concerned about the effect of jackhammers used in roadwork outside her home on her unborn baby. She was also smoking a cigarette. A later article revealed she had actually cut her smoking from two packs a day to half a pack and was told that quitting completely while pregnant would put stress on her unborn baby, but the internet did not fail to notice the cognitive dissonance.
- The Simpsons:
- Parodied in the twentieth season episode "Double, Double, Boy in Trouble," where a Flashback shows a single drop of sprayed alcohol going down Marge's throat by accident, whereupon it changes the nondescript baby boy inside her into a wickedly smirking Bart.
- Also used for Black Comedy, when Brandine in one episode sips whiskey to stop the fetus from kicking.
- Another episode, where Marge and Homer return to the mini-golf course where Bart was conceived, Marge notes how they drank so much on that night, and Homer comments "Yeah, I thought Bart would be born a dimwit." Marge merely gives a nervous chuckle.
- Family Guy:
- Meanwhile, on Family Guy, after Meg claims to be pregnant, Lois advises her that if she's going to dose herself on drugs and alcohol to induce a miscarriage to be committed to it, otherwise she'd end up giving birth to something like Chris.
- In another episode, Lois has a dream where she finds out that Stewie's evil and bent on world domination. After she realizes this she cries, "Why!? Why did I have to smoke pot when I was pregnant with you!?"
- On the rare occasions Beavis And Butthead's parents are mentioned, their mothers are usually said to be heavy drinkers, which definitely explains a lot.
- In the season 4 finale of Archer, Lana vehemently refuses alcohol; at the end of the episode, she reveals her pregnancy. This carries over into the next season, with her hard drinking coworkers often trying to offer her alcohol and Lana pointing out that she couldn't possibly have any since she's pregnant. Averted in a flashback, where Malory asks for a drink after her water breaks.
- As recently as the early 1980s, an old wives' tale in many cultures, including some Catholic cultures (such as some Irish and Italian cultures), stereotyped as having lots of healthy children due to birth control restrictions while also using wine in their Mass, held that a pregnant woman drinking a small amount of wine or a small amount of beer was actually beneficial to a fetus. Recent scientific studies have suggested some Italian grandmothers are right, as always, on this issue.
- In the 1940s, doctors sometimes advised new mothers to drink Guinness stout because the yeast in the brew was supposed to promote milk production.
- While current National Institute for Clinical Excellency guidelines advise teetotalism during the first three months of pregnancy the guidelines also state that consuming no more than two units of alcohol up to twice week has not been shown as harmful to foetuses and that consumption of more than 7.5 units is proven to increase the risk of birth defects and other problems.
- A survey of bartenders showed that most would not serve alcohol to women who appeared to be pregnant. Some fear lawsuits, because with the US being such a litigious society, a mom could come back years later and attempt to sue the bartender for every problem her child ever had. (No one has ever tried it, and it's unlikely she would win, but who wants to take the chance?)
- This is why on January 2011, a woman was kicked out of a bar just for being pregnant, despite the fact that she wasn't, and had no plans to be, drinking alcohol.
- On the other hand, a sex-discrimination case could be made against the bar for refusing service, especially if the woman was not pregnant and the bartender just assumed. TIPPS classes actually avert this trope and tell you that against your first instinct, you should serve the woman, because it would be much harder to prove yours was the One Drink that killed the baby than that you turned a customer away.
- Inverted when it comes to Nicotine and tobacco. While it can harm the baby, the stress from suddenly going cold turkey from nicotine can have a much greater effect on the baby. However talk to a obstetrician before you try this. Don't blindly follow medical advice from the internet.
- Recently, the CDC released new recommendations that women of childbearing age shouldn't drink at all (unless they are using some kind of contraception, such as the Pill or an IUD), on the grounds that they could be pregnant at any time and not even know it. (Even though most of the time, babies born to women who drank before finding out they were pregnant turn out OK.)