Tips for keeping your pregnancy a secret when you're known for partying

February 2 | Guest post by Sharon Baldwin
By: Alpha du centaureCC BY 2.0

Much to our delight, my partner and I found out we were pregnant with our little pickle three days before our wedding date. There were happy tears, cuddles, and an immediate feeling of "we need to go celebrate!" Usually for us this means cracking open a bottle of bubbles or a few beers… and in just three days we'd have five cases of wine, a dozen cases of beer, and six bottles of rum that people were going to expect us to celebrate with. So how was I going to get out of drinking on this special day without dropping this huge bombshell?

Not to mention if we wanted to keep our pregnancy a secret till the recommended 12 week mark, that meant not drinking on an overseas trip to visit friends, office holiday parties, barbecues, birthdays, and New Year's Eve! Yikes! We needed some tactics. Here's what worked well for us:

Think up good excuses

If you can work in a legit excuse to stave off drinking, this will at least buy you some time. "I don't want to drink before the wedding — nerves!" or while overseas "I'm so tired from jetlag, a glass of wine will put me to sleep!" Whether you're the designated driver, fighting off a cold, or taking it easy after last night's bender, just make sure you don't over-do it within the same group of friends or they may catch on.

Invent a few mocktails

By: BanalitiesCC BY 2.0
How I've grown to appreciate a well-made concoction of deceptive fruit juices. The trick to this one is arriving at the bar first, or getting your partner or trusted friend to discretely order or mix you up a non-boozie bevvie. You can even joke "Ooh, I can barely taste the alcohol in this — this could be dangerous" and wink to yourself. This one only works if you're the type to order pink fruity cocktails.

Just fake it

There are a few ways to go about this. Empty a beer bottle (into your partner's mouth if you're worried about wasteful beer crimes!) and re-fill it with water. Grab a beer, wine, or cocktail and take fake sips — sneak it to your partner to take big gulps to help you finish it off. This tends to work better later in the night after people have had a few. Just carrying around a glass or bottle with you can stave off the people who want to buy you a round, even if you never sip.

Have a posse of people who know

Besides fetching you mocktails and gulping your Chardonnay, your partner or a friend who's in on the secret can help you keep up the illusion. I told a close friend when overseas and as a big group up of us were leaving the bar he proceeded to yell at me for not finishing my cocktail and demanded that I chug it. Later on the Subway I reminded him that was just a $2 Sprite and he said "I know, but it would be out of character for me to let anyone leave a bar without finishing a drink." That's what friends are for.

Of course if you're not much of a drinker these things may be non-issues or you can abstain in a much less elaborate manner. But my group of friends has a dreaded combo of heavy partiers and excellent baby-dar. So these tactics, well-combined helped (mostly) keep my secret safe.

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  1. Congratulations on the Pickle! That is too cute.
    this is surprisingly helpful!!!
    Luckily at weddings you never get to finish a drink when you're the bride so I bet that helped as well.
    I'm saving these! On Pinterest!

  2. HA! Where was this post a year ago (just kidding). The first time I passed up a drink everyone was like, "omg you're knocked up." I'm a bartender who is married to a bartender so booze is in our life. I luckily was able to trick people for a while by shooting water or holding full bottles of beer all night.

    2 agree
    • a friend showed up to our halloween party in a baggy housedress, barefoot, etc. i didn't think much about her costume 'til i started passing around beers and cocktails, and she declined. though she's not a "partier," i thought, holy crap, she really IS barefoot and pregnant.

      turned out to be true! and a funny costume.

      2 agree
  3. This totally reminds me of the How I Met Your Mother episode where Marshall has to drink all of Lily's alcohol to keep anyone from knowing she's pregnant. Hilarity ensued.

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  4. I started waitressing at my favorite bar right after I got preggers. They are known for having the biggest & best beer menu in town, & the job involved A LOT of offers to sample delicious beers every week in order to better sell what was on tap. It was torturous to pretend that I was too uptight to drink on the job!

    1 agrees
  5. These are great! And congratulations! (I'm due in July too, yay for sexing up our partners around the same time! 🙂 )

    I learned that for some reason, if it's in a rocks glass with a lime and stir stick, people didn't even blink. I even had a couple people who knew pull me aside and give me and my glass the eyebrow raise…
    That might be the people I hang with, though. Anything other than booze in a booze glass is SACRILEGE.

    1 agrees
    • Yay for July babies 🙂

      Yup, "put a lime on it!" became my new motto for making any beverage suddenly look alcoholic.

      • As Alyssa touched on above, did you have to deal with anyone coming back to you later and asking "what about the drinking?"

        1 agrees
  6. My excuse was the best!!!

    "I can't drink because of my diabetes!" A total lie, but one that everyone seems to believe for some reason. 😛

    Alyssa – the few times I faked having a cocktail or a shot, I feel dirty for the same reason. Putting something other than pure alcohol in a shot glass seems really weird to me. Same with cranberry juice in a wine glass. 0_o

    1 agrees
    • I love it! I think I was too busy feeling smug and doing the "I got a secret!!!!" dance in my head to realize the error of my ways.

      1 agrees
  7. I wish I would have known these tips before. I had a 30 year birthday to attend one week after I found out I was preggo. Everyone knew something was up! I was drinking a mocktail, but some how everyone knew. Maybe it was my "glow".

  8. THANK YOU! I had a pregnancy "scare" this month, and no idea how to effectively turn down booze w/o alerting all my friends that I was on baby watch.

  9. A few drinks so early in pregnacy that you are only just finding out will hurt nothing — neither will the occasional taste of beer, as the girl with the waitressing job described. I am not a big drinker anyway, so no one noticed when I nursed the same glass of hard cider or wine all night.

    2 agree
      • Funny enough I came across that post when I was searching the site to see if an article like this had already been written.

        No judgment meant towards anyone choosing to drink in moderation during their pregnancies. I know I would not personally feel comfortable doing that – but maybe it's because as a vegan I already feel so under scrutiny for what I put in my body!

        (Though I did have a few sips of wedding champagne… shhhh!)

      • I didn't really drink while pregnant, except for a few sips of scotch here and there in my third trimester.

        But I do drink more than many of my mom friends are comfortable with now that I'm breastfeeding. Yes, I will have one or two drinks several times a week.

        Anyway, I digress. I had a very hard time hiding my pregnancy! I am a musician and we socialize a lot and drink a lot. I'm a known scotch drinker among my friends and they'd never seen me turn down a drink before for any reason. So of course everyone figured it out immediately. Nothing I could do. I tried the whole mocktail thing, but I shouldn't even have bothered, because seeing me with a mixed drink was an uncharacteristic as me drinking water or something.

        1 agrees
    • I didn't find out until I was already 8 weeks in — after vodka shots before a Lady Gaga concert, cocktails for a friends birthday, a pot-clouded camping trip, and who knows what other atrocities…. I felt so bad about it all (even though my midwife told me no big deal) that I was ridiculously careful for the rest of my pregnancy as some sort of penance. No coffee, even. But I do agree. (And the baby is 10 months now & totes healthy.)

      1 agrees
      • Hah! I feel similar, except I found out at 5 weeks. It was a pretty heavy drinking month and because of wonky cycles (ovulation? I hardly knew her..) I didn't go easy. I confessed this to the nurse on the phone – she laughed and just told me – "join the club!"

        1 agrees
    • While I understand that for some people, drinking moderately while pregnant might not be their idea of a "risk," but we all have different perspectives on what constitutes a risk.

      My husband works in a field where he is exposed to children with all sorts of development problems. So, while for me it wouldn't be something I think is very risky, for him, it really is. While we're trying, I drink very moderately when I get my period and during the week up to ovulation and then I stop. Its a very minor thing for me to avoid, but it provides my husband with a great deal of comfort.

      Some of my friends who know that we're trying keep attempting to convince me that I'm being overly cautious. I'm not going to judge them for having a drink when they're pregnant, but I also know they're not going to convince my husband that the risk is worth it. Nor are they going to convince me that doing this one thing to give him comfort isn't worthwhile (The other suggestion is that I should just not tell him – something that makes me really uncomfortable). Besides, trying to convince someone to drink when they don't want to is really not ok.

      2 agree
  10. This is great! My group of girlfriends and I are at the penguin point (we are all just waiting for the first person to jump in the water and not get eaten alive!) of having kids, but we always say that the first time one of us doesn't have a glass of wine we'll know they are pregnant! I considered sending this to them, but then I thought, NO! Wait! If I pass this along they'll know my tricks!!

    3 agree
    • "penguin point" made me think of waddling…something I'm doing plenty of at 39+ weeks! I think I'm just going to say I'm at the penguin point from now on.

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  11. I was really surprised to find out that none of my friends had a clue I was pregnant despite going to several birthday parties and happy hours and only drinking water. I guess because I occasionally abstained during past events so that I could drive, they didn't think anything of it, even though it happened numerous times in a row. I had my excuses all lined up though, if anyone had asked. I was going to tell them I was taking a new medication and I couldn't drink on it. If that felt too personal for the person involved, I would just say that I had to drive home or that I had a headache.

  12. Don't forget about Antibiotics- always a good excuse. ^^

    I'm quite lucky that I practically never drink alcohol anyways, so it was pretty darn easy to hide that way. The problem with my first pregnancy was that I had NO belly (where now I have a little bit of post-c-section overhang) and it was REALLY obvious to some people (mostly mamas themselves) when I got a bit of water/gas weight from like 6 weeks on. *sigh*

    1 agrees
    • If your social circles are anything like mine, psych meds are also a good excuse. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, stimulants, mood stabilisers, antipsychotics, etc. all generally come with warnings against drinking, and even if you've been known to drink while on meds, adjusting doses or trying a new drug are legit reasons to avoid alcohol.

  13. so, this is not exactly advice i'll be needing – but i like it!

    as for mocktails – they're not just for fruity drinks!

    both by taste and style, i am not one for fruity/sweet drinks. tonic water is a great one if you like the "bite" of liquor. as someone said, add a lime and stir stick to anything, and it looks like a stiff drink. plus, citrus is a good way to tart up a too-sweet or too-bland drink. ginger ale and bitters is another favorite of mine (note that bitters is highly alcoholic – usually around 40% – but as you usually use it in measurements called "drops"…well, that's a personal decision as to whether you consider it acceptable in this situation).

  14. I am a whiskey-with-gingerale or gin-and-tonic drinker usually. No-one ever notices if I just pour myself a glass of mixer without the booze in it!

    2 agree
  15. My body started disliking alcohol a few months ago, just before we'd started trying to get pregnant, so I've been turning down drinks regularly for awhile now. However, I also cut way down on coffee a month ago, so I'm curious how many of my friends must think I'm already pregnant. And I've always been a slow drinker, so as I often get questions like "Do you actually like the taste of warm beer?" it would not be crazy for me to just nurse the same beverage all night.

  16. I'm with Cinnamon Girl – I love me a whiskey ginger or a whiskey sour, but if I pour myself a glass of ginger ale, no one's the wiser. bonus points if a cherry makes its way into the glass.

  17. I was working at a cocktail lounge. One waitress came back into the kitchen on a buys friday night because she wanted to squee over the cutest thing. She'd gotten a notecard from a customer that covered it with "I have a new cocktail recipe I'm trying at all the local bars, do you think the bartender could make this for me?" The notecard said, " I AM PREGNANT! No matter what I order, please do not give me alcohol. I haven't told my friends yet, so this can be our little secret. ;)" And then the recipe for a mocktail, which was delicious (we all had it, it had grapefruit juice, orange juice, lime juice and bitters, shaken, and finished with carbonated water–it's even better with some fresh ginger grated into it, which helps a bit with the nausea of early pregnancy). There was also a note that if anyone from the table ordered one, to add a 1/2 oz of vodka and a 1/2 oz of white tequila or clear rum, just results in less carbonated water.

    We just thought it was the most awesome thing, and took the suspicion off her for the whole night. It became the house Mocktail for anyone who was the DD but wanted to enjoy the cocktailing skill of our bartenders.

    2 agree
  18. I've been trying (with my husband's help) to get pregnant for about 8 months now. We're homebrewers and beer judges and all-around beer geeks, so when friends first started seeing me at parties drinking ginger ale instead of ale-ale, our friends caught on in about .03 microseconds. But by this point, everyone's pretty used to it. The folks who thought I was preggers 8 months ago must have figured out by now that they were wrong, and people stopped making a big deal about it. We'd just tell people, "We're trying, and being pretty careful about booze consumption in the meantime." Every once and again someone will say, "So, I notice you're STILL not drinking…" and then I just demur.

    In the early months of trying I would sometimes say, "I'm cutting way back on my booze consumption to get used to what it'll be like *when we start trying*" – they didn't have to know we were already at it!

    1 agrees
  19. i am a waitress and bartender and at our bar we often hold cocktail training events for parties. there is usually at least one designated driver, teetotaler, or pregnant lady. we actually pride ourselves on being able to create a mocktail version out of ANY cocktail (try making a virgin mojito, it's a delish and refreshing drink and doesn't have to be pink and girly).

    also during some of the later events i was heavily pregnant which is hysterical. teaching peeps to mix drinks while 8 months pregnant. classic.

    3 agree
    • Ah yes I had a virgin mojito recently – awesome on a summer day!

      When I was in New York I covertly told a really sweet bartender that I was pregnant when placing a drink order and he gave me 2 mocktails on the house! That was awesome 🙂

  20. Perfectly timed post! We're super social and active in the craft beer scene. Other then straight turning down events (I have freelance work to do, sorry!) I've found the best way is to not flaunt your water until later in the night – then you can claim you'll be driving the drunkards home. Also, idle hands make me crazy. As long as you're holding a beer or taster glass no one asks questions!

  21. These tricks worked for me in the past! Husband and I were invited to a birthday night out when I was 8 wks and I REALLY did not want to spill the beans after a previous miscarriage. We did the "honey drink my beer quick" trick and covertly ordered me a virgin screwdriver at the bar later. 🙂

  22. I had to hide my non-drinking at my brother and sister-in-law's bachelor/bachelorette party. We had a limo, so I couldn't use the driving excuse. My husband wasn't there, so no one could cover for me. In the limo, I would just pretend to swig from the bottle along with everyone else. At the bar I just held my drink and nobody seemed to notice that I wasn't drinking it. As a bonus, the next morning I got to use the booze as an excuse for my nausea!

  23. One thing that always works for not drinking is saying that you took medication so you can't. If it's only at parties say it was for a headache/backache/whatever. If you see these people alot in drinking situations the medication can be for an infection/diet pill/high blood pressure/whatever. NO one will question you.

  24. Ha! We found out we were pregnant the day after I felt a little "under the weather" at a friend's show. Usually, I would drink with my friend until my husband had to carry us both to the car, but I felt a little nauseous and so abstained from everything except half of a Red Bull. Everyone joked "You must be pregnant!", but no one really believed I was until I told them a few months afterwards.

  25. I know a lot of people who just don't drink and claim antibiotics/cleanse/temporarily abstaining from gluten/training programs as excuses, which are all pretty regular occurrences in my group anyways… I guess we just seem like a bunch of health nerds 😉

    1 agrees
  26. I could have used this post in November! We found out we were pregnant TWO days before flying to Maui for a close friend's intimate wedding. Even the excuse that I was DD home from the rehearsal dinner didn't work. I tried mocktails, took small sips of wine during dinner (then switched with my partner), and those bastards still figured it out. On their wedding day. I kept thinking, "Am I that much of a drunk?" Oh well.

  27. We found out I was pregnant right before the holidays and there were a lot of parties and celebrations. My friends tend to be beer or wine drinkers, so virgin cocktails weren't really an option.

    For red wine, I brought a small bottle of cranberry grape juice in my purse (it's exactly the same color!) and snuck off to the kitchen or bathroom to make the switch when nobody was looking.

    For beer, I poured ginger ale in an empty beer bottle.

    This was easier for me than "fake sips" or handing off my glass to my husband because my friends are pretty tuned into "if you're not drinking, you're pregnant." It took us 2 years to get pregnant so I was always feeling like I was being particularly watched for signs.

    After one party, someone even commented to my best friend "Well, I guess she isn't pregnant yet, the way she was sucking down that wine." It felt really good to have been able to trick everyone and keep our secret!

    2 agree
  28. I was discreetly busted by my old neighbor at a family party, I was seen discreetly pouring a non-alcholic beer into a red solo cup. Same party my grandma, who is apparently psychic, was tipsy and started babbling about my hubs and I naming 'that baby' after her lol. My husband hissed I thought you were going to wait to tell her till we told her together. Lol we told her that night, I was the designated driver after all. Yeah it got out pretty damn fast I was pregnant, damn my penchant for scotch, margaritas, wine and other liquor of the gods (shaking fist at the heavens) I can't wait for my first drink after this babe comes out….waddle waddle

  29. I recently was confronted with a similar situation: having just moved into our house we decided it was time to visit and introduce ourselves to the neighbours. I was barely 1 month pregnant and was a paranoid stickler for the no-alcohol while pregnant rule. As soon as we walked in a schooner sized glass of wine was thrust under my nose. "Its home made vino" the neighbour said I retorted "Oh thank-you I better not". He replied "I made it myself and am so proud you must tell me what you think". My partner added "oh i'll drink hers she doesn't like wine." "But its the best you will ever have" He insisted. The neighbour started to take offense and my reluctance was coming off as rude, but I made an excuse "Oh I left the oven on and the house is burning down…got to go.." and ran out of his house. I don't however regret it and I'm sure we will all have a laugh in 2 months time when I can tell the world.

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