If you’ve ever had the pleasure of commuting via public transport while pregnant, you’ll no doubt attest to the fact that the experience is anything but pleasurable. Confined spaces, sweaty armpits, coffee breath and morning sickness are never a good combination – add to that the agonising backache of carrying an entire other human inside your uterus whilst having to stand for the duration of a tube trip – and it’s no wonder baby bump carriers are beginning to speak out about those less-than-generous fellow passengers who seem wilfully blind to the imperatives to give up their seats to the less able.
A particularly poignant story on the sad state of humanity, recently reported by the Evening Standard, revealed how an 8-months pregnant woman had to stand for a tortuous two hours on a train from Crawley to London Bridge, after her fellow passengers declined to offer her a seat.
“People don’t like to make eye contact,” the woman, only identified as Lauren, said. “Everyone just looks down. It’s not a long journey but when you’re 31 weeks pregnant it’s knackering. I asked the carriage: ‘Would anybody be able to give me their seat?’ But the response was just silence.”
To avoid the fate of Lauren, and many other mums-to-be in transit, check out the ways you can make travelling on public transport less of a battle:
TfL Baby on Board badge
Particularly useful in the chillier months or earlier stages of pregnancy when a bump might not be visible, you can pick up these badges from most manned stations, or by filling in a form online. Then wear it – and point to it repeatedly if necessary – every time you step on the tube or train.
Cards for Priority Seats
Trains nearly always have marked priority seats (typically nearer the door and with more leg room) specifically meant for those less able to stand. Able passengers occupying these areas should automatically offer them up, but if they are more engrossed in their book / mobile / the mesmerising pattern of dirt on the carpet than their surroundings, a card may help avoid the embarrassing encounter in directly asking for their seat. Many train operators operate a priority seat card scheme.
Season Ticket Upgrade
Abellio Greater Anglia, South West trains, First Great Western and East Midlands trains all offer a season ticket upgrade for pregnant women, granting you authority to use a First Class seat when no space is in available in Standard Class. Details vary, but most involve sending off your annual pass with a letter from your workplace or GP confirming when you are due to take maternity leave.