On Tuesday, Bun and I headed to London to eat cake and chat in the sunshine with Mama Mio and Mumsnet. I spent such a lovely afternoon catching up with friends, meeting new faces, and listening to a fantastic panel discussion about experiences of being pregnant on public transport.
Mama Mio believe that all expectant mums should have the right to a seat on public transport, should they want one.
Did you know that only 60% of people would give up their seat to a pregnant lady on a bus or a train? And only 2% would give up their seat to an expectant mum in the first trimester?
Their new campaign #ExpectingChange is all about raising awareness for public transport etiquette; encouraging people to offer their seats on trains and buses to pregnant ladies. They also want to help empower expectant mums to ask for a seat, which is something that can feel incredibly daunting, especially in busy cities like London.
Pregnancy is hard; it’s not all cute bumps and baby kicks. It’s exhaustion. It’s sickness. It’s nausea that lasts more than ‘just’ 12 weeks. Your body changes constantly. Your centre of gravity is off. And your ankles and legs swell.
Balancing, when standing on a moving train or bus, is even more difficult as a pregnant woman. Especially in this heat, or at the end of a busy day. Growing a tiny human can be a worrying experience at the best of times, but falling over and potentially harming your bump isn’t something we should have to worry about.
Before we relocated to Yorkshire, one of the places we lived was Brighton. I was pregnant with Busby during some of this time, and I found that people were very reluctant to give me their seat. In fact, the majority of people who would offer me seats were those who needed them the most. I remember one time, a lovely old lady offered me her seat and I refused saying: “No – you need it.” She exclaimed very loudly on the busy bus: “Yes, I do, but you also need to sit down! Perhaps someone else would like to offer up a seat?!” I’ve never seen so many people blush at once – and both the lady and I were given seats.
I’m definitely not alone in my not-so great experiences on public transport. When I posted about the #ExpectingChange campaign on Instagram this week, I was inundated with mums sharing their stories with me. One that really stuck out is @mrsawarburton‘s comment:
“When I was pregnant, I was on crutches for the last 7 weeks. I was travelling through the London Underground and no one bothered to offer me a seat on the train… Although, eventually, a woman asked her son to get up so I could sit down.”
Also, @daynapieandthelittleguy‘s comment really shocked and angered me:
“There were a lot of comments from men saying that it was my choice to get pregnant, so they didn’t see why they should give up a seat.”
I mean, because firstly, pregnancy is entirely down to the woman – men aren’t involved at all, are they?! And secondly, can you imagine if men were able to get pregnant?! There would be a designated carriage just for them… with super comfy seats, free wi-fi and food!
Finally, @susanb2p15 made an excellent point in her comment, demonstrating that pregnancy is not straight forward and, that as well as being pregnant, mums might have further reasons to need that seat:
“… the thing is, I couldn’t risk getting my tummy bumped as I’m rhesus negative, and any bump sent me straight to hospital for an injection.”
You can find all of the fantastic comments and stories on my Instagram post here.
It’s been a bit better in Yorkshire during this pregnancy (mostly because it’s less busy), but I have taken to wearing my ‘Baby on Board’ badge and pointedly stroking my bump over the past couple of weeks. People (especially men) up here are definitely more helpful when it comes to offering to take H-Bear’s pushchair on and off the train for me too. Northern kindness is not just a thing of folklore.
What has been your experience when pregnant on public transport? Has it been positive? Or do you find yourself having to employ the “look, I’m blatantly pregnant” tactics? And do those tactics even work? I’d love to hear your stories!