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preggers in the kitchen

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I have been working in the foodservice industry (back of the house) for about 6 years now and have never really worked with any females in the kitchen before. I now find myself pregnant and was wondering if there was anybody in the industry that could give me any advice. I have mentioned this to the chef/owner and he has informed me that he has never had to deal with a pregnant cook in his kitchen before, and without a maternity leave in place at his restaurant we are both clueless as to how we are supposed to advance from here.
post #2 of 19
You are be able to file for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act of 1993) if you have been with the company for more than a year. If it is less than a year then it is at the discression of the employer. Either way, if you file the paperwork you can take you are entitled to 12 weeks of leave with no loss in job status, pay or seniority. FMLA runs concurrent with the companies medical leave policy if one is in place. You are not gaurenteed anything after the 12 weeks is up involving FMLA so after 12 weeks are up they can legally terminate your employment or assign you to a different job for less money.

Just be sure you ask for FMLA paperwork and the owner should be able to provide it. Granted you don't know the exact dates yet but at least you'll both know what needs to be done.
post #3 of 19
You only qualify for FMLA if you have worked there for at least 12 months, worked at least 1250 hours in those 12 months, and the employer has 50 employees in a 75 mile radius.
post #4 of 19
Then it would be entirely discretionary on the employers part.

Yet as I read it there was no requirement to the distance from the workplace. but you are correct in that the employer must have 50 or more workers employed each working day for the 20 or more calander weeks in the current or previous year.

Please excuse my failure to provide that info or at least word my reply that she "should be able to" in the original post. :look:
post #5 of 19
Is this your first child? Do you have any child care lined up for when you do return to work? Is it a family member, or a facility? A lot of mothers I know plan for a lot of down-time the first time out (myself included) and go into complete panic mode over it, only to find that they feel okay after a few days, and are going stir-crazy at home. I worked up to (and including most of) the day I went into labor. Ended up having a C-section (it was a Wednesday night), was laid up over the weekend, and was back to work (light work, and just for a few hours, but still made it there!) the fifth day after my son was born. I had planned on staying home for 2 weeks, but as it turned out, I didn't have to take a single day unpaid, because I was able to fill in the blanks with my vacation time and sick leave. As long as you have reliable child care lined up, I wouldn't stress too much over having to take a *ton* of time, unless it's your personal choice to. The only big concern would be whether or not you can find someone willing to watch a newborn, as most facilities require a baby to be 6 weeks or older. If Dad's in the picture, though, this would be a perfect bonding experience for the two of them!
For the best cakes in Spokane (and all the "weird" designs that other bakers won't do) visit www.cakes-by-sarah.com !
For the best cakes in Spokane (and all the "weird" designs that other bakers won't do) visit www.cakes-by-sarah.com !
post #6 of 19
I brought my newborn to work with me (natural foods restaurant, of course...;)) to be able to nurse him. Kept him in a snugglie pack strapped to my front in the beginning, then a backpack and an infant seat later. OSHA or the labor board probably would have had something to say about that, but it worked for us nonetheless.:lol: I can't say I'd recommend it, though; it was hard to function well with a hungry baby and hungry customers to boot!

Someone above said it best when she said that she was back to work almost immediately. Childbirth and pregnancy isn't a disability, but it sure would be great to be able to take advantage of the family leave act if you wanted to.

Best wishes! Keep us posted. I'd be interested to hear how you and your boss handle it.
post #7 of 19
When I was the owner/operator, I looked at a pregnancy in the kitchen as I would with any other issue that had an up, and yes, a down side.
How I dealt with the situation, really depended on the person. Some ladies are more able than others to work while pregnant. When there were State, Local or Federal laws that applied, then of course, I follow the letter, and intent of the law.
I felt that if they could do the work, they had a job. There is always that horror thought in the back of your mind though, that something untoward will happen........ a slip and fall, or the like. With a pregnancy involved those types of occurrences have a huge liability risk factor for the owner/operator, and frankly DO influence decisions.
Having babies is a highly personal decision, and made by different folks for different reasons. It is a bit unreasonable, to expect that everyone will be thrilled about it. Some understanding, and a wee bit of give and take on both sides helps in the long run.
post #8 of 19
I worked up to about 3 or 4 days before i gave birth, at full capacity- cooking, desk work, putting up trucks, etc. you may develop some serious back pain- sciatica etc. and i had some other issues with varicose veins in a special place no varicose veins should ever be, if you get my drift. They make all kinds of support garments, for your back and belly, and even my special issue which i would wish on no woman. maternity jackets are quite expensive, so instead i bought the chefwear overalls in a size up and wore them with t-shirts underneath. by the end all the buttons on the side were unbuttoned.
make sure to take care of yourself. take time to eat balanced meals and stay hydrated while you're working. it's not selfish or anti-team. it's for the baby. and get all the sleep you can. i was working from about 7 am to 7 pm, coming home, eating dinner, and falling asleep by 8:30.
i hope you qualify for FMLA, and save up your vacation time. you're going to want to spend some time with the baby.
i mean, good for the woman who was back to work 5 days post partum and all, but don't do that to yourself if you can help it.
post #9 of 19

Hi there. I am in the same boat. I recently found out I am pregnant as well. I work as a saute line cook in a very very busy kitchen turning out 100 covers a night on average. I am very nervous about what I should do? It is only June and it is already so hot in the kitchen that I sweat through my clothes. While I am working lately, I think about everything I do, and how I might do it with a belly. It seems unlikely that I would be able to function without asking for help and being slow, not being able to reach things etc. Plus, I worry about the heat. Even on the pantry station, which is a little cooler and more mild in intensity, most of it involves kneeling and reaching into the reach-in etc. I have not yet told my employers, I am waiting until I'm 12 weeks or until I start exhibiting symptoms (hopefully not throwing up in the kitchen, which is another worry.) 


Any advice?

post #10 of 19

There will be times when certain smells/flavors will be intolerable to you. May even nauseate you.  This is not particularly predictable when it might strike or if at all. But you should have a plan with your boss about what you can do to switch assigned roles during those times.

post #11 of 19

Oh gosh, I worked as a chef in a breakfast/lunch place when I found out I was pregnant with my oldest. I was literally throwing up in the kitchen, (well not IN the kitchen, I had a bucket out the back door that I would run to) I had horrible morning sickness that lasted almost my entire pregnancy. It wasn't the food so much that bothered me, it was the smell of coffee that had me running for my bucket. LOL


I did end up having to quit, I was hospitalized and almost lost my baby. That was the last time I worked in a kitchen. (some 12 years ago) I felt horrible about having to quit, but the owners were very understanding and they didn't want to take the chance of me having a miscarriage during a shift


My advice would be to be honest and upfront about what is going on. I wouldn't try to hide it. You don't want them to come to you asking about your big belly. You do have rights under the law, and they probably vary from state to state. Check with your local labor board and hey can help you with any questions.


Congrats natalia & ashw!

post #12 of 19

If you can work in a kitchen while pregnant, I commend you. When I was pregnant, all I did was puke and complain and sleep. I slept a LOT. There was no way I'd be able to do it. Everyone is different though.

post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by natalia View Post

I have been working in the foodservice industry (back of the house) for about 6 years now and have never really worked with any females in the kitchen before. I now find myself pregnant and was wondering if there was anybody in the industry that could give me any advice. I have mentioned this to the chef/owner and he has informed me that he has never had to deal with a pregnant cook in his kitchen before, and without a maternity leave in place at his restaurant we are both clueless as to how we are supposed to advance from here.

You're using the term "we" so I gather that you may be friends with the owner...?  Either that or you're dedicated.  And you "found yourself pregnant" means you weren't planning on it.

Just an observation; may be untrue.

All that aside, how much time do you want off?  It sounds like it's totally negotiable without having to be litigious. 

What exactly do you expect?  I ask in a curious and not aggressive voice.

post #14 of 19

OK, here's another question. I'm only 5 weeks along, at what point should I tell my employers? I would love to get out of the kitchen asap, but I need to be employed. My main concern is the heat in the kitchen, and doing anything to disrupt the pregnancy. I started getting a migraine at work the other night (because of baby, heat or dehydration, I am unsure) and was sent home because I was told by my boss, "that I looked like crap and was really pale."  Shifts are 10 hours and stopping to eat isn't really that easy.


I'm wondering if I should wait the "usual" amount of time to share the news or if I should get it over with. I am currently looking for food related administrative jobs. Until a hire happens, I am going to try to stick it out in the kitchen. If I DO get an interview for a new job, the question arises of whether or not I reveal to them that I am pregnant? I don't want to lie to anyone and cause an awkward situation later, however I am afraid if I do tell them up front, it will ruin my chances. Thoughts?

post #15 of 19

I would put off telling your employers as long as possible. It's a good way to get terminated, and usually there is no legal recourse.


You don't need to revel that you're pregnant to potential employers. In fact, it would only be prejudicial. However, I would strongly consider your conduct with regards to a new job. It would really suck to take on a new job and leave shortly afterwords for child/pregnancy issues. Employers, and I'm speaking from experience, get burned like this a lot, and it only contributes to discrimination against pregnant women.


No clue about medical issues. One of my friends worked at a high school cafetaria while she was preggers, but from what I know, it was a lot less demanding job then yours.


You have a good idea to switching to an administrative food job. You should also consider vendor and catering sales. Those are classic spots for ex cooks/chefs


Might also consider that you could stay in food prep, but work in a different segment of the industry, or change your work conditions, ie move from hot line to pantry or prep. Go to part time temporarily...

post #16 of 19

I wasn't working in this business when I was pregnant with my older one but because I worked with special needs kids and back in those days there were times when we would have to physically restrain them I told my bosses as soon as I found out.  I had a miscarriage that I knew about a few months prior and I suspect one in the summer but if that one was the case I wasn't pregnant long enough to notice.  They were fine with it, but the executive director drove me crazy.  If there was any bad weather at all, she would tell me not to come in, or send someone else in my place if I had planned to take my group to the library or wherever.  Looking back I know she was only out to make sure that I was safe (and she was not on the hook for anything) but at the time it just made me crazy!! 

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
post #17 of 19

I am currently 11 weeks pregnant and am having a very miserable 1st trimester. Nausea, anemia, fatigue, the whole bunch. I'm a pastry cook, but the smell of any food sets me off.

I told my chef as soon as I found out, and Chef has reduced me from full time to part time (from 35 to 12 hours a week)... I've had to take a morning office job. And since I've only been at my restaurant since May, I don't qualify for FMLA.


I'm actually thinking about leaving because more often than not, I get sent home early and end up wasting commute time/money just to go in for two hours of prep. I'm sick most of the time and I feel that it's unfair for the rest of the team to have an unreliable member... If you can work through your pregnancy, by all means, do it! I'm just worried about this huge time gap I will have on my resume. I'm sure it'll make job hunting a lot more difficult now...  

post #18 of 19

Youre worried about an employment gap due to having a baby?

Any potential employer who doesnt understand THAT reason

doesnt WANT to.

It also doesnt sound like your Head Chef appreciates you very

much, cutting your hours by two thirds, just as youre preparing for

an additonal significant financial responsibility.

And good pastry chef's dont exactly grow on phyllo trees these days.

That's assuming you're good, or course. :-)

There might also be healthy ways to reduce that early nausea,

a question for your Ob Gy...well, you know.

post #19 of 19

I'm sure Chef's reason to cut my hours is because I'm expensive compared to the rest of the cooks. Like you said, pastry cooks are hard to come by... Which bothers me because on the days I come in I see that everything is prepped in a half-a**ed manner and the plating is sloppy when done by line cooks! When I call the guys out on it, they always shoot back the "well, pastry is the red-headed step child of the kitchen..."


I've tried a lot things to stop the nausea, but the main problem is my anemia. I just get woozy and can't stand for too long... I've been taking lots of iron supplements and whatnot, but my OB-GYN says that my I'm pregnant and there's not much that I can do about it. It's tragic, really, but now that I'm about to become a mother I've realized that I want my baby more than my career at this point of my life!

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