Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

'A glass of wine was a real treat'

By Murray Cox
BBC News

Siobhan Freegard and her two sons, Sean, 12, and Aran, five.
Siobhan Freegard drank small amounts during her three pregnancies

New evidence has emerged that the occasional drink in pregnancy does not harm children.

Mother of three, Siobhan Freeguard spoke to BBC News about her experience of drinking during all of her three pregnancies.

Said Siobhan: "I looked at it a little like the rules on drink driving - here's a limit, don't cross it or you'll be in trouble and I was prepared to accept that."

The 41-year-old has three children who are all very healthy and have suffered no apparent side effects of her decision to drink a moderate amount of alcohol while she was pregnant.

"It was a conscious decision for me, and I did look into it carefully, but it felt important to me to have a treat," she said.

It's important that woman can be allowed to figure out what is right for them, by trusting their instincts, by listening to their bodies and doing what feels right
Siobhan Freeguard

"It was just a small glass of wine with a take-away at home on a Friday night, or if we went out for a meal.

"There are times that being pregnant isn't much fun, so I looked forward to my treat."

Mrs Freegard didn't drink in the first trimester of her pregnancies, and she believes her body was telling her what to do.

"There was no way I could have stomached a drink in the early part of my pregnancy, just no way at all," she said.

'Small amounts'

"I could tell from many paces if my husband had had a single pint I became so sensitive to the smell of alcohol at that time. My husband got away with nothing!"

Mrs Freegard welcomed the new report, from researchers at University College in London, which says light drinking during pregnancy does not harm children's behaviour or cause mental impairment.

She said: "When you're pregnant you just suck up information to try to figure out what you should be doing.

"It's important that woman can be allowed to figure out what is right for them, by trusting their instincts, by listening to their bodies and doing what feels right."

But she stressed: "That's not to say, of course, that women should be drinking heavily. We're talking about a small glass of wine here."

Mrs Freegard is well placed to understand the concerns of pregnant women as the co-founder of, where mothers meet online to chat.

'Relaxed mothers'

"There was a mum who posted on the site the other day saying, 'look, it's only for nine months, surely you can just go without for that time'", she said.

"I totally respect that point of view, but the beauty of having more information available and consequently more discussion is that it puts you in a better place to draw your own conclusions and decide where you stand."

Mrs Freegard said she was interested in a portion of the research suggesting that in some cases the children of light drinkers may have slightly higher cognitive abilities.

"I'm not looking at this from a medical point of view, because that's not my background, but I do wonder if that is a result of the mothers being more relaxed during their pregnancy," she said.

"There is research that suggests that if you have a stressful pregnancy then there can be problems for the baby - the baby can be born full of adrenalin."

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Q&A: Alcohol and pregnancy
31 Oct 08 |  Health

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