Full disclosure: I’ve already come to a conclusion about whether being a pregnant bartender is bad form or badass. It’s definitely badass. Perhaps there remains a stigma surrounding bartending while pregnant because alcohol, long hours on your feet, and having to deal with stress are not ideal pregnancy pairings. But for expectant mothers who have spent years working in the bar industry, there’s often little chance of suddenly making a career move. And those who stay, making it work, and learning quickly how to navigate the specific difficulties that come with being a pregnant bartender, well, they are definitely badasses.
“I said I’d never do it — I’ll never be that pregnant girl behind the bar,” Brooke Buzzard, one of my favorite bartenders, confessed to me recently. “Before I was pregnant, I thought that that was the least classy thing behind a bar. And then you know, fast-forward to me working in the industry I’m in and then getting pregnant.” Brooke tended bar until her EIGHTH month, giving birth this past September.
Another favorite bartender of mine, Megan Clark, is currently in her sixth month, and also working at two different bars. Initially she believed customers would be “incredibly turned off” by a pregnant bartender, as she put it. “Most enjoy the illusion that the bartender is your friend,” she explained, an illusion shattered by pregnancy, since it might make you seem less relatable. “Not drinking with them might make people feel uncomfortable and alone,” she had assumed.
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Brooke had a similar suspicion. “A lot of times in the industry it’s very much encouraged to drink with the customers,” she explains. “In the beginning when I wasn’t showing, I had a lot of regulars and customers that would wanna take a shot, and it’s busy and you don’t want to explain stuff that’s personal to you, so a lot of times I would just pour water in a shot glass. When I started to show I stopped doing that, obviously.”
It’s when one starts to show that the least favorite aspect of any pregnant woman’s life begins: the very personal questions and advice. “People’s unsolicited advice is always going to be there, but it’s especially interesting when you’re in a bar atmosphere,” says Brooke. “People ask the strangest things, and want to give you all this advice. I don’t need you at 2 a.m. to try and talk me into a birth plan.”
Unsurprisingly, Megan is having similar experiences. “A woman wanted to break down my birth plan during the height of dinner service,” she tells me. “I had to shut that down quickly. Nothing like enjoying a large bowl of penne a la vodka and listening to the bartender and another customer talk about placentas, right?”
The level of patience and strength required to deal with prying customers and long hours makes pregnant bartending all the more badass, especially when you consider that most of these ass-kicking woman are learning for the first time how to ask for help.
“I’ve never liked being treated like I’m delicate,” Megan tells me. “I’ve always prided myself on being capable of doing the heavy lifting and getting dirty while doing it. This has been a little blow to my ego, but I think there’ve been times that bartending is a little too strenuous on our bodies and in my current situation, I’m actually putting health before the job. Probably a good life lesson in the end!”
Pregnant bartending is certainly something we can all support and endorse. As we fight back against wrongheaded cultural norms, we can begin to make positive changes that benefit everyone. The United States does not rank well when it comes to its treatment of pregnant working women. In the case of Brooke at Berry Park and Megan at James and Centanni, they were both offered more flexible hours that would work better with their health needs and the guarantee that their jobs would be waiting for them whenever they chose to return to work after giving birth. Nearly every industry can be dicey when it comes to supporting a pregnant member of their staff and the more we stand up for the badass women in any field we see them in, the better it will be for future pregnant workers, and certainly, for all.