In the news this recently pictures of pregnant Equalities minister Jo Swinson (7 months pregnant, due to give birth on Dec 25) standing during for a full 30-minute Commons session while nearby colleagues sat comfortably without offering a seat – as reported by Dailymail.co.uk.
Did no one see the minister – in her bright pink dress and obvious bump? Was she perhaps offered a seat and didn’t accept?
As you can imagine, people are irate!
The incident got me thinking back to the couple of times that I have been pregnant – and whether I was offered the proverbial seat by the general public. I’d say mostly – if I was seen to be pregnant and standing I was offered a seat, usually by women (presumably empathetic mothers).
As a Londoner, what I did notice when I was preggers is that even if you have a giant bump, people don’t always notice you – the culture is to keep one’s head down (immersed in music or a good book) and eye-contact is rare.
Also, it’s not always easy to tell if a woman is pregnant; offering every woman with a belly bulge a seat is a recipe for assured embarrassment and possible disaster. Which is why many mums-to-be do wear the ‘baby on board’ badge – it saves a great deal of confusion, if it is noticed.
What really annoyed me on public transport was people who were sitting in the seats designated for those ‘less able to stand’ (heavily pregnant women, the elderly, those with injuries etc.) and paid no attention to who was boarding the bus and whether they per chance required one of the ‘easily accessible’ seats. In this context, it’s irresponsible and quite rude to be that unobservant.
I think that they issue raised by the (apparent) lack of consideration shown to Jo Swinson is about more than a pregnant lady not being offered a seat; it’s about the attitude of society in general – self-absorbed and selfishly preoccupied. It’s not good. We need to be more aware of what is going on around us and show consideration and manners accordingly.
What do you think? – Were you offered ‘a seat’ when you were pregnant? Were you and your bump noticed by colleagues and commuters? Share your story!