Wikio - Top Blogs - Wine and beer The Real Ale Girl: September 2012

Thursday 20 September 2012

Baby Friendly Beer?

Back when our mother’s were having babies, they were commonly advised to drink a glass of stout a day. This usually meant a Mackesons or a Guinness and they were recommended by midwives due to their high iron content. My own very long pregnancy (I am 12 days overdue today) has inevitably stopped my beer drinking shenanigans (hence the lack of blog action!) but I have received regular tweets from folks telling me how they drank stout during pregnancy, even some from women who discovered beer through drinking it when they were pregnant and haven’t stopped since! I have allowed myself a few sips of new beers I couldn’t bear not to try and a glass of champagne at weddings, for example, but I certainly haven’t been drinking a pint a day. But should we pregnant women be following in our mothers’ and grandmothers’ footsteps and get on the stout?

The Sensible Drinking report of 1995 advised pregnant women not to drink “more than 1 or 2 units of alcohol once or twice a week, and should avoid episodes of intoxication". In 2006, following alleged reports that this advice led to women miscalculating units and drinking higher than recommended levels, we were then told we should be drinking at all. So, interestingly, the advice not to drink at all during pregnancy is not necessarily due to potentially harming the baby, but that the government doesn’t trust our maths. Of course, we now know more about foetal alcohol syndrome and a pint a day may be too much. But could one or two stouts a week be beneficial?

In December, Real Ale Bro and I delightfully received a box of Bristol Beer Factory’s Twelve Stouts of Christmas. We had ordered it to enjoy over the festive season and couldn’t wait to compare all the different flavours of our favourite style of beer. Then I found out I was pregnant. The box is still sitting there, waiting to be devoured. So could I have been drinking it all along?

Well, it actually turns out that there isn’t that much iron in stout anyway. In my pregnancy guide book (there are hundreds and they are all different) it says a pregnant woman should have between 16 and 20mg of iron a day. A pint of Guinness contains 0.3mg. A single egg contains 1.1mg. So you would need to drink a hell of a lot of the stuff.

But I am not really that interested in drinking Guinness. I want to know about the content of all of those glorious stouts being brewed by innovative modern breweries. Does the craft stuff contain iron? Hours of internet searching hasn’t given me any answers so I call upon you beer enthusiasts and brewers- do you know of any wonder beers and super stouts that we pregnant (and subsequently breastfeeding) lasses can actually justify drinking? One thing to note is that many of the latest stout creations tend to be pushing the ABV up above what a responsible mother would feel happy drinking regularly- I like beer but I will also love my baby! I look forward to being inundated with your thoughts.