A heavily pregnant woman is flabbergasted at being refused a single glass of sparkling wine on her wedding anniversary last night at an Auckland restaurant.
Nichola Hayes and her husband Michael were looking forward to a rare night out just weeks before she is due to give birth to the couple's second child.
They chose Mac's Brewbar at the Nuffield Street Trading Company in Newmarket where Mrs Hayes asked for a glass of wine with pizza while her husband opted for beer.
But Mrs Hayes was "completely flabbergasted and embarrassed" when a waitress denied her service on the basis of her pregnancy.
"One glass of bubbles for a consenting non-intoxicated adult at at advanced state of pregnancy," she told the Herald today.
"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.
"I think it is very much a grey area and would be interested in what other bars do in this situation."
Mrs Hayes, who is 36.5 weeks pregnant, said the waitress initially thought she wanted a soda and tried to list options for those.
"I then pointed out to her the drink I would like from the menu; she went away and came back a few minutes later and said she thought she had misunderstood me and asked if I was pregnant.
"I said, yes, and she said she was uncomfortable serving pregnant women alcohol."
The couple then spoke to the duty manager who Mrs Hayes said told them it was his licence under which the restaurant was operating "and 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 said she felt the establishment was "pushing the boundary of host responsibility and being just a little bit too cautious".
"If I was in their shoes and a woman who was pregnant was ordering up large, I'd be questioning it as well," she said.
"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."
Although feeling deflated, she said it would have been too much trouble finding another restaurant with a more pragmatic alcohol policy so she stayed and appreciated at least being served a complimentary ginger beer.
Mrs Hayes, who has a 19-month daughter, said she had researched the issue of alcohol during pregnancy and found contradictory scientific views.
"Some say don't drink at all and some say [doing it] in moderation is fine," she said.
"I've got friends who've had a glass of wine, even beer, for the iron content - stout or something like that with a lot of minerals in it.
"I think it's individual choice, but definitely I wouldn't advocate drinking much during pregnancy - in fact I haven't had anything."
Mr Hayes confirmed that his wife had been "extremely cautious during her pregnancy, looking after her baby".
"We felt we were informed parents deciding on a single drink."
He wondered where the restaurant might draw the line, and what its policy may be toward breast-feeding mothers asking for a drink.
The bar's manager told the Herald he could not comment before referring the matter to his company's operations manager, but expected a response would be forthcoming this afternoon.