The thing I found most extraordinary about being pregnant - apart from the actual fact of being pregnant - was how all of a sudden, my body wasn't my own any more. It starts with the fetus taking up residence. Once you have a baby on board you're thinking for two, as well as eating for it. What should I do for the good of this growing collection of cells? How will what I'm doing affect the development of the fetus?

Sometimes your body will pass on a message from the little intruder loud and clear. I didn't have morning sickness but to this day, even thinking about a cup of Bushell's granulated coffee stewing on a work bench makes my stomach turn.

I was working on Fair Go at the time I was pregnant and one of the items we were to shoot involved me doing a piece to camera on a horse. During the planning and preparation for the shoot, the office became involved in a discussion about whether me being on a horse was a good idea.

What if it bolted and I fell off? What if it shied and I took a tumble? It wasn't my physical wellbeing the team was worried about, but that of the baby to be. It was the first indication I had that people, other than my immediate family, were invested in what was going on with my body.


As I got bigger and rounder, people took even more liberties. The most egregious case was a besuited businessman who leaned over and stroked my belly while we were travelling in a lift.

"I bet you've got a big one in there, love," he said, rubbing and pressing and poking. I'm sure he meant well but I would never have leaned forward, pressed my hand on his trousered crotch and said, "I'm not sure I can say the same about you." People just don't touch one another without permission (unless they're Roger Sutton and, boy, did he learn his lesson). Even 25 years ago, that wasn't okay.

At the TV One Club at Avalon TV studios, reporters, producers and directors from different programmes would gather at the end of each day for a relaxing drink or two and a few fags. I would join my friends and colleagues and, while I was pregnant, I sipped on a lime and soda - most of the time.

A concerned acquaintance, a hippie living in the Aro Valley, told me it probably wasn't a good idea to sit around the table breathing in second-hand smoke.

He suggested it might be better to take a walk along the riverbank to relax after work, rather than sit in the smoky club.

It took all my self-control not to immediately buy a packet of Dunhill, sit down and chain smoke as a way of telling him to butt out of my life.

This latest furore over a 36-weeks pregnant woman being denied a glass of Champagne at an Auckland pub is a case in point, showing nothing has changed when it comes to pregnant women being regarded as public property.

It wasn't so much that the duty manager refused to serve her - with new licensing laws and punitive fines for giving alcohol to drunks, the fear of God has been put into every bar server in the country and they will err on the side of caution at the expense of common sense when it comes to whom they choose to serve.


What galled me was the number of people criticising this educated woman for choosing to have a glass of Champagne with her husband on their wedding anniversary. People kept insisting it was for the good of the baby that they were against her having a tipple.

If that's the case, we'll need to stop serving alcohol to all women of child-bearing age on the off-chance they might be pregnant. A lot of women have no idea they're up the duff until three months down the track.

Are women going to have to pee on a stick to prove they're not pregnant before they can get a drink? And what about eating raw fish and seafood and soft cheeses?

Will we ban pregnant women from eating those because they might get listeria and that, too, might harm the baby?

Sure, if a pregnant woman is lining up tequila shots and chasing them down with beer all night, step in and say something. But does that mean we can intervene when other people are doing things we deem bad for their health and that will ultimately cost us as taxpayers?

Do we step in and order the McSalad if heavily overweight people are ordering the burger? Do we stop smokers nipping outside to have another ciggy?

We seem to be willing to let individuals make their own choices about what they do with their bodies but not women who have fetuses in utero. Yet in the same week that this debate raged, the Government voted down two bills that would have seen children given access to decent food in our schools. On talkback there was barely a murmur about the bills failing to pass. It's a shame we feel passionate only about the rights of children when they're in another person's womb. The same care and concern doesn't seem to be there for the kids once they're born.

Kerre McIvor is on NewstalkZB Monday-Thursday, 8pm-midnight.