Baby on board – Negotiating public transport when pregnant
What with my growing bump and all, there’s lots of new things I’m figuring out. One is that I can’t run around town the way I used to. Another is that with a baby on board, power naps are fast becoming my favourite hobby.
But by far the most interesting social experiment that I’m part of is getting the London tube whilst pregnant. Luckily my work means that I don’t need to commute everyday (the perks of being boss). Just as well, as the whole experience isn’t much fun.
So I ordered my obligatory baby on board badge, something that helps other passengers notice your pregnant self and hopefully offer you their seat.
That’s the word – hopefully. Now I must say, travelling on the weekend or outside of rush hour, I pretty much always get a seat as it’s quieter. And if it’s busy, someone obligingly offers.
But rush hour is another story. Here’s the thing. People in London don’t look at each other on public transport. Whether it’s their phone, a newspaper or simply the floor, they’d rather look ANYWHERE than at another person. So if you’re not particularly big of bump, you might not even get noticed to be offered a seat.
I found myself in the exact predicament when getting the 8am tube. Getting on with my small bump and even smaller badge, I found myself standing on a packed tube.
The only other person to notice me was a mum with a pram. With her mum intuition, she honed in on me, and automatically asked if I’d like a seat. She was standing herself, so took the initiative of asking someone to give me their seat. Though feeling slightly awkward about uprooting somebody, I was grateful to sit down for the 20-minute journey.
On the way back I wasn’t so lucky. Again, a packed tube with nobody looking, save a few pity stares from others standing. The experience was more embarrassing than annoying.
The politics of public transport when pregnant
However, upon hearing the stories of other expectant mums, I realise that the whole baby on board thing is a political minefield.
Another such story was reported in the Daily Mail, which was greeted with such lively comments from the readers. One said: ‘you chose to have a baby’. Others questioned the sense of entitlement felt by pregnant women.
Another natural assumption is that you don’t really need a seat unless you’re very far gone. However, as many women will attest, the earlier days of pregnancy are often harder with the nausea and dizziness.
When I regale friends with stories of my baby on board adventures, most say I should man up and ask for a seat. However in reality, embarrassment takes over. Who do you ask? How do you know the person sitting doesn’t have a bad back? What if they’d had a tough day and tougher commute. What if, cringe, they say no? You see it’s easy to say what you’d do in that situation hypothetically. But in reality, when faced with poker-faced commuters, it’s not so easy.
Seat wars isn’t easy. So I do count my lucky stars that commuting isn’t part of my regular week. I feel for the many women who do have to negotiate public transport at rush hour everyday.
So I’d love to hear your pregnant commuting tales. Did you have a nightmare commute whilst pregnant? Or was it plain sailing (or seating?). Let me know in a comment below.
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About the Author
I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.