After almost nine months of being alcohol free, heavily pregnant Nichola Hayes was looking forward to one glass of sparkling wine to celebrate her wedding anniversary. But the reaction from a restaurant left her astounded and humiliated.
Ms Hayes and husband Michael headed out for a rare date night at an Auckland restaurant just four weeks before the due date of their second baby.
Mr Hayes ordered a beer with their pizza, while Ms Hayes asked for a glass of wine. The waitress initially thought she wanted a soft drink and started to list options, so Ms Hayes repeated her order.
“(The waitress) went away and came back a few minutes later and said she thought she had misunderstood me and asked if I was pregnant,” Ms Hayes tells the New Zealand Herald. “I said, yes, and she said she was uncomfortable serving pregnant women alcohol.”
The couple spoke to the bar manager, who told them that under his liquor licence he could “refuse to serve me alcohol at his discretion for health reasons”. “He said that at his bar manager training it was stressed they were not to serve alcohol (to pregnant women).”
Mrs Hayes says she was “flabbergasted” by the restaurant’s conservative approach, saying it was “pushing the boundary of host responsibility”.
“If I was in their shoes and a woman who was pregnant was ordering up large, I’d be questioning it as well,” she says. “But I’m an educated woman who knows the limits and have been so careful throughout the whole pregnancy. I thought right, this is our one night out, I’d have one glass of bubbles – I wouldn’t do anything more than that.”
Ms Hayes, who also has a 19-month-old daughter, says she has researched alcohol in pregnancy and found contradictory advice. “I think it’s individual choice, but definitely I wouldn’t advocate drinking much during pregnancy – in fact I haven’t had anything,” she says.
“I do see both sides of the story but at the same time many women drink within the first three months of pregnancy without knowing they are pregnant and when the foetus is at its most vulnerable. (This was) one glass of bubbles for a consenting non-intoxicated adult at an advanced state of pregnancy.”
The co-owner of the restaurant, Mac’s Brewbar at the Nuffield Street Trading Company, has since apologised to the couple for his overzealous staff.
“I think there is a fundamental human right at play, that you do not discriminate on the basis of gender,” Sam Ansley tells the NZ Herald. “Women are the ones who get pregnant – they have the right to choose themselves about what are the health choices and the options they will take during the pregnancy.”
The saga does open up a huge can of worms though. Is one drink okay during pregnancy? And whose responsibility is it to decide what’s right – is it only the mum-to-be, or do liquor providers have a role to play?
Did you drink any alcohol while pregnant? Tell us below.