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One Drink Will Kill the Baby

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"Government Warning: According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcohol during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects."
— Warning label found on all alcoholic beverages in the United States

We all know about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder aka Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the irreversible brain damage and physical deformities that result from prenatal exposure to alcohol. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy also tends to increase the number of miscarriages and decrease the birth weight of the baby (generally a bad thing for the baby).

No amount of alcohol is known to be safe for a developing baby and this will likely forever remain a mystery, as scientists can't exactly ask a group of expecting mothers to drink different amounts of booze and see how morbid the baby gets. The only thing certain is that "none" is less than whatever the safe amount is, if a safe amount exists at all. This leads many women to play it safe and swear off the liquor entirely as soon as they miss their period, or even when they decide to actively start trying for a baby.

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 Pepsi at the bar (when she hadn't been averse to alcohol before) 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 doesn't want to drink or is the Designated Driver for the evening.

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". Compare Childhood Brain Damage, which usually occurs only once the kid is actually born.

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.


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    Comic Books 
  • 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 Iron Man #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 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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..."
  • Long Time No See: Subverted. Shinji gets worried when Asuka has one drink even though she is pregnant, but she is certain that one drink will not harm the baby.
  • 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.
  • In The Betrothal Contract Mr. and Mrs. Weasley discover Hermione is pregnant when they spot a bud growing under her and Ron's names on the magical family tree they've just been gifted.
    Mrs. Weasley: You'll have to be careful, my dear. No champagne for you tonight.
  • In the Frozen (2013) fic Perfect Diamond World, Iris gets shot while pregnant. Anna asks her if she'd like wine in order to dull the pain and help her fall asleep, however she refuses because of the baby. Either way, she has a miscarriage due to the infection... or so she said. She actually ran away with the baby.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil fancomic "It's Tradition," Star is told by her parents (who don't know she's pregnant) that she needs to take a glass of wine as part of the ceremony. Marco desperately warns her that she can't do it because of the baby—and that's before they bring out the "glass," which is a giant drinking horn bigger than she is. Star gets around this by simply dumping the whole thing over her head and giving some nonsense speech about symbolism.
  • Shizune hides all of Tsunade's alcohol after she gets pregnant early in Son of the Sannin for this very reason. One of the first things that Tsunade does after the kids are born is demand that Shizune bring her a bottle of sake.
  • When Stacey tells her four friends that she's pregnant in Stoneybrook Revisited: A Baby-Sitters Club Fan Series, they celebrate with four glasses of champagne. Dawn excludes Stacey due to her pregnancy.
  • The Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The Birth Of Psycheliana" uses smurfnip (a Fantastic Drug analog to marijuana) instead of alcohol as what Empath finds Smurfette with while she's pregnant with their child. Fortunately, no harm happens, but Empath does scold the Smurfs responsible for giving Smurfette the smurfnip.
  • In Hell's Kitchen, Full of Grace, while Peter is born perfectly fine, Jessica grows concerned about him since she drank the usual amount the first few weeks into her pregnancy (the usual amount for her being enough to make her pass out). At first she attributes his fussiness to this, but as she and Matt spend more time around him, they start suspecting that it might be because of something entirely different.
  • In Discworld fic Hyperemesis Gravidarum by A.A. Pessimal, expectant mother Johanna Smith-Rhodes is rendered irritable for nine months by medical advice not to have anything alcoholic. note . Later on in her second pregnancy, she decides "to Hell with it" and drinks normally. This daughter turns out to be a complete hell-raiser.
  • Love Can Surprise You At Any Time In Your Life: Implied in the third chapter. Leela grabs a beer for Bender on a mission and considers getting one for herself, but decides against it. Her reasoning is that it'd be irresponsible to drink while she's flying the ship, but she's also just learned she's pregnant, albeit still in denial about it. Given that she'd easily put the ship in cruise control, it's implied the latter reason is why she's not drinking.
  • Discussed in When You Assume, where the Fairy Tail guild is shocked that Cana is refraining from alcohol because of a doctor's orders, and along with a mentioned stomach bug causes them to assume that she's pregnant. They were wrong, everything that's been going on with Cana is because she's getting treatment for a hole in her stomach lining.

    Film Live-Action 
  • 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 'bad 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 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 about what alcohol could do to her current child. Values Dissonance is probably the reason, as the film is from 1955.
  • Subverted in Dazed and Confused when a visibly pregnant woman buys whiskey and cigarettes at the Emporium.
  • Bird Box. Dr. Lanpham mildly scolds Melanie when she suggests sharing a celebratory bottle with her sister; when this trope is brought up the doctor points out that a 'bottle' was mentioned. Melanie does accept a shot of whisky during a rare bonding moment with Douglas. Part of this however is because Melanie is reluctant to accept her own pregnancy (from a boyfriend who left her).

  • Played with in The Alice Network. Charlie drinks during her pregnancy and it doesn't seem to have any ill effects on the baby, who is, as far as we know, born healthy. However, Charlie also planned to abort before changing her mind, and gin was suggested as one of the (apparently ineffective) ways to attempt to miscarry (some of the others being hot baths and falling down the stairs).
  • 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.
  • Exploited 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 Freed, 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. (Plus, if you do the math, she's pregnant for most of the book, and she drinks a lot before she finds out.)
  • 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 Lucy asks Jake for a beer because she currently can't stomach milk.
    Jake: 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.
  • In the Longmire book The Dark Horse, Walt meets a young woman who's around 4 months pregnant as she goes to retrieve the bottle of whiskey that her very drunk boyfriend dropped when he decided to pick a fight with Walt (and promptly slipped and knocked himself out). Seeing this reminds Walt of Melissa Little Bird, a young Cheyenne girl born with fetal alcohol syndrome who was involved in a case from a previous book, so he tries to convince the woman to give him the bottle but she basically blows him off. Walt is left with a sinking feeling about this child's future.
  • This is played with as Deliberate Values Dissonance in Wicked (which takes place in the 1800s). While pregnant with Nessarose, Melena complains that she wants wine. Nanny disapproves, but not because of issues to the baby. She doesn't think wine will put Melena in the right frame of mind. Nanny instead gives Melena 9-months worth of pills she got made by an alchemist in order to make sure Melena's next kid doesn't turn out green like her first. Nessa isn't green, but she is born without arms.
  • Referenced in Gone with the Wind: Scarlett starts Drowning My Sorrows on a regular basis after she marries Frank Kennedy, by sampling Aunt Pittypat's sherry to sleep at night. Dr. Meade sees her when she's pregnant with Frank's child, but doesn't warn her against drinking alcohol because he assumes a proper lady would not be drinking at all. Predictably, Ella is born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Frank and Rhett adore her, but Scarlett, when she spends time with Ella, realizes shes' a "silly head".
  • Subverted in The Princess Diaries when Mia learns she's pregnant, after getting engaged to Michael. Predictably, she freaks out when her doctor tells her, with blood tests confirming the result, and confesses about drinking with her dad and girlfriends. Her doctor reassures her that his generation didn't know about alcohol and smoking, and he turned out fine; besides, he'll provide her the best care possible so that she and her twins will be healthy. The babies end up fine when they are born, if with "strange-looking heads" as newborns.
  • The Wheel of Time: After Elayne's pregnancy becomes public knowledge, it seems that everyone in the palace conspires to ensure that she gets nothing to drink but nutritious goat's milk. When she does get her hands on a glass of wine, she finds that it's been watered to the point of unpalatability.
  • Sweet Valley High. Regina Morrow's deafness is implied to be the result of her mother taking weight-loss drugs when pregnant with her (she was a model).

    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.
  • 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.
  • In The Big Bang Theory while Bernadette is pregnant the rest of the gang gets invited to a wine tasting, so she has to hang out with Sheldon. Fortunately, he shows an uncharacteristic amount of sympathy and runs a D&D game where she can do all the things she's not supposed to do.
  • In the Black Mirror Christmas special, Joe is horrified to realize Bethany is drunk while pregnant. Subverted in the episode "Be Right Back", Martha drinks while pregnant, although robot Ash warns her against it and she later regrets it.
  • 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.
  • In Bones Booth finds out that Angela is pregnant because she slips that she can't drink wine anymore.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Coupling:
    • 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'.
  • Played strangely in one episode of Criminal Minds. Reid is interviewing a jailed assassin, Kat Adams, who tells him she "goes somewhere else" to deal with the boredom of being in jail, and thus half the time the interview is shown from her POV, which seems to be a luxurious hotel room where she and Reid are dressed to the nines. Obviously, she's still in prison, which we can clearly see the rest of the time. We see things through her fantasy when she announces that she's pregnant with Reid's baby, or so she claims, and she triumphantly takes a sip of champagne... only to spit it back into the glass. Except, of course, that there is no glass. Or champagne. Did she just pantomime it and expect Reid and JJ (who's watching) to fill in the blanks?
  • 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.
  • Played straight on Days of Our Lives when a pregnant mother's excessive drinking results in a very sickly baby.
  • 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.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Gridlock", medical student Martha Jones tells someone off for using a futuristic mood drug while pregnant. Given it came from The City Narrows, Martha likely had reason to worry.
    • Averted in "The Impossible Astronaut": 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). 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?"
  • On The Drew Carey Show, when Kate realizes she might be pregnant, this is the consequence that hits her the hardest:
    "I mean, no beer for nine whole months!... But at least when it's over, I got a little drinkin' buddy to sit with me."
  • 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.
  • Frasier: Roz reveals her pregnancy to Martin's poker buddies after Martin absentmindedly offers her a beer, which she has to turn down. The other players toast her and start musing on how fast their own kids grew up.
    Frank: What's the matter, Roz? You think you won't be able to control yourself with all these handsome guys here?
    Roz: It's a little late for that, Frank.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the season 7 finale of Game of Thrones, the first sign Tyrion notices of Cersei's pregnancy is that she, every bit the alcoholic he is, does not drink the wine he hands her, despite the intense conversation they are having clearly necessitating it. Possibly justified, because while Cersei would likely know more than anyone how harmless a sip of wine can be, scenes later in the episode show the insane paranoia she clearly has regarding the safety of herself and her unborn child, going so far as to keep her forces out of a war for the fate of humanity because she's afraid Daenerys will capitalize on her weakened army once that war is over, neglected that ignoring the war will only expedite her demise. She may very well be paranoid enough to know deep down that one glass, or even a sip, would harm the baby irreparably.
  • 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.
  • A similar event occurs on Glee, even though it was half a glass of champagne to celebrate! And she wasn't even pregnant!
  • Grey's Anatomy:
    • Mocked in Season 7 when Meredith turns down the idea of getting a drink with Cristina because "I'm trying to get pregnant and supposedly alcohol will make my baby have three heads and sixteen toes." Cristina suggests crack cocaine as a substitute.
    • Meredith reveals her pregnancy in season 9 of after Callie keeps insisting that she have some champagne at a celebratory dinner.
  • 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.
  • 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. Hilarity Ensues. 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 it's not alcohol why did she need constant drinks? Was the stress just making her thirsty?
  • 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.
  • 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 diagnosed with 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.
  • 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).
  • In season 1, episode 4 of Medium, Allison has a pregnancy scare, and keeps putting off taking a pregnancy test out of fear. Near the end of the episode, she finally takes the test, and in the next scene is shown drinking wine, the showrunners relying on this trope to show the audience the test came up negative before she tells her husband Joe.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Monk had a case where a murdered city councilwoman's pregnant receptionist fills in for her during an important vote. After the vote, someone suggests going out for drinks and the receptionist refuses for obvious reasons. Suddenly, Monk remembers a comment made by a reporter she had met with before her disappearance that the councilwoman wouldn't have been drinking then. (Her body hadn't been found yet, and was found to not be pregnant when it was.) He then realizes that the councilwoman was in a relationship with the reporter and attempted a Baby Trap.
  • On one episode of Mythbusters, the Build Team investigated whether a hangover due to beer alone was less severe than one induced by beer and liquor together. Part of the test involved consuming enough alcohol to cause a bad hangover (twice!). Kari Byron abstained from drinking because she was in the third trimester of her pregnancy, but took part by setting up a series of tasks to gauge the other members' condition.
  • 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.
  • 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 the Parks and Recreation episode "Ben's Parents", this trope leads to the reveal that Ben's father's girlfriend is pregnant, which makes an already bad situation (his ex-wife and Ben's mother is in the room) way worse.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 prenatal care before shamelessly plugging Please Watch the Jon Lovitz Special.
  • Scrubs:
    • Inverted, as the only person who doesn't know that 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."
    • A bartender tries to police Jordan's drinking while breastfeeding after one of her pregnancies, and gets a well-deserved tongue lashing from Jordan for their trouble.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Strong Medicine. Dana reveals that she's miscarried when she orders a regular coffee instead of decaffeinated.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The West Wing: First Daughter Ellie Bartlet hints to her parents that there's a pressing reason why she and her fiancé need to get married soon. After realising what she means, the scene ends with the First Lady reaching over and taking Ellie's champagne glass away from her.

    Myths & Religion 
  • 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 (Men, women, and children of the Bronze Age all consumed alcohol, including during pregnancy, because it was usually safer (i.e. less likely to cause sickness) than drinking water), however, than the fact that he was to become a Nazirite. 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.


    Video Games 
  • Story of Seasons:
    • Amusingly averted, 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.
  • Inverted in Dwarf Fortress. All dwarves, including pregnant women and newborns, have to drink booze, or else the alcohol withdrawal will stress them out and make them work at sluggish paces. No amount of drinking will kill a dwarvern baby, sobriety-induced stress is a much greater risk.
  • In Fallout Shelter, female Vault Dwellers assigned to a bar will drink Nuka-Cola instead of beer if they're pregnant. This may not be much of an improvement.
  • Crusader Kings 2: Women with the 'Alcoholic' trait have a chance of giving their children the 'Slow' trait due to what is implied to be Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Pagan Fury added a set of events about it where an Alcoholic who becomes pregnant has a random chance of going dry because of it and getting massive opinion penalties with her husband if she doesn't.
  • Played with in Not Tonight. During your shifts as a bouncer in bars, pubs, and nightclubs, some of the patrons in queues are women with a bit of a baby bump, which Yahtzee Croshaw in his Zero Punctuation review calls "pregnant teenagers with bad haircuts" (even though these bars prohibit underage drinking). Since most pregnant women are over 18, you can admit them in provided that they have valid paperwork. However, it's never shown what happens to the women and their unborn babies in there, though it's kinda safe to say that bars in the UK won't offer alcoholic drinks to pregnant women. And then, of course, there are pregnant CheesR addicts and pregnant Powah Pill addicts. One would have to imagine what their children would want to be when they grow up...

  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • Discussed in one of The Nostalgia Critic's commercial specials, where he mocks the "Do The Arches" commercial (where people parade around with their arms bent over their heads to mimic the McDonald's logo) by saying it's a great way to let people know your mother drank while she was pregnant with you.
  • Not Always Working: This pub waiter decided on his own to refuse to serve alcohol to any woman of childbearing age because they might be pregnant. Several other customers got "virgin" drinks without being told about the substitution, presumably the poster's daughter ordered something that couldn't be made without booze because she got quizzed by the waiter about her reproductive status and then told she wouldn't be allowed to have alcohol anyway.

    Western Animation 
  • In Big Mouth, Maury is questioned when he is seen smoking a cigar and if it's bad for the baby. He explains that it's actually good for developing hormone monsters.
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Ear-sy Rider", the One-Eyed Snakes are partying and drinking beer in the diner, much to Bob's chagrin. Among them is Mudflap. She is heavily pregnant but drinking as hard as the rest. Bob seems to think she shouldn't be doing that but, since she and her friends are all Badass Bikers, he is not about to stop her. Mudflap gives birth later in the episode, and the baby seems healthy.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied in the twentieth season episode "Double, Double, Boy in Trouble", in which 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.
      [Gregorian Chant] Aye Ca-Rum-BA, Aye Ca-Rum-BA
    • Also used for Black Comedy, when Brandine in one episode sips whiskey to stop the fetus from kicking.
    • In another episode, in which 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:
    • 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!?"
  • BoJack Horseman:
    • In the episode "The Judge", a recently pregnant Princess Carolyn visits her boyfriend Ralph's parents but isn't ready to tell them that she's pregnant yet. They offer her some alcohol to calm down, but she declines. They keep insisting she indulge in something else, such as cocaine, smoking, standing around secondhand smoke, some highly caffeinated coffee, a quick punch in the stomach to make her feel alive, or a ride on their extremely fast rollercoaster. Eventually, Ralph has to step in and change the subject.
    • In the next episode "Ruthie", Princess Carolyn is hesitant to drink coffee, but Ralph allows her to have a little sip. She later miscarries, but it's unclear if this is connected to the coffee, especially since it had been pointed out earlier in the season that it's hard to have children at her age and the reveal she's had four miscarriages beforehand.
  • On the rare occasions Beavis and Butt-Head's parents are mentioned, their mothers are usually said to be heavy drinkers, which definitely explains a lot about their idiocy.
  • 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.
  • In the South Park episode "Cartman Joins NAMBLA", Kenny tries to stop his parents from having another child. Throwing a baseball at his dad's groin doesn't work, so he mixes a drink laced with abortion pills for his pregnant mother. She tells him she can't drink, so her husband downs it instead. Kenny warns him, but it's too late.

    Real Life 
  • As recently as the early 1980s, an old wives' tale held that a pregnant woman drinking a small amount of wine or a small amount of beer was actually beneficial to a fetus.
  • In the 1940s, doctors sometimes advised new mothers to drink Guinness stout because the yeast in the brew was supposed to promote milk productionnote . Even nowadays, some doctors will still tell nursing mothers who have trouble letting milk down to have one alcoholic drink (such as a glass of wine) to relax before nursing.
  • 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 a week has not been shown as harmful to fetuses, and that only the 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 (granted, no one has ever tried it since it's unlikely she would win, but who wants to take that chance?).
    • In one extreme case, 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, if the woman turned out to not be pregnant and was refused a drink because the bartender assumed she was, a sex-discrimination case could be made against the bar for refusing service. In fact, TIPPS classes actually tell people that they should serve the woman if they don't have confirmation that she's pregnant because it's harder to prove that their drink was the one that harmed the baby than it is to prove that they turned a customer away.
  • This can actually be inverted when it comes to nicotine and tobacco. While continuing usage can harm the baby, the stress from suddenly going cold turkey can have a much greater negative effect on the baby. Of course, pregnant women who use nicotine/tobacco should consult with an obstetrician on what the best course of action is.
  • If you think pregnant women can get out of this by simply avoiding alcohol or drugs, then think again:
    • There have been concerns over caffeine use, as some studies have shown a (very small) correlation with miscarriage in early pregnancy, which is why decaffeinated coffee and tea have been promoted to pregnant women. Even then, this won't guarantee that the woman will escape criticism: P!nk was blasted for posting a picture of her drinking decaf because decaffeinated coffee contains trace amounts of caffeine (2 milligrams per cup, compared to regular coffee's 95 milligrams per cup).
    • Similarly, pregnant women are also increasingly warned to not eat undercooked eggs and meats due to the possibility of food poisoning. Naturally, this leads to more cautious pregnant women deciding to go vegan/vegetarian for the duration of their pregnancy.

Alternative Title(s): Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Alcohol Is Poison