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No Seats for Pregnant Ladies

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Ronda Kaysen: The reason why no one stands up for pregnant ladies on the bus isn't because the world is full of a bunch of selfish jerks with sore feet. It's because most people can't seem to tell the difference between a baby bump and a big belly.

pregnant woman

Two separate surveys have found that most pregnant women are left standing on public transit because other passengers are too embarrassed to inquire if the large load that the woman is carrying is, in fact, a fetus. As for the other people who don't give up their seats (the ones who do know that the pregnant lady is standing for two) ... well, they're just selfish, the surveys found.

"It is ridiculous that the health of young moms is being put at risk because of embarrassment," Nifa McLaughlin, editor of, told the Daily Mail. (Gurgle conducted one of the surveys.) "It is worth risking a red face if it ensures that a pregnant woman is able to complete a crowded rush-hour journey safely."

In a separate survey by the baby charity Tommy's, half of the pregnant women polled said it was unusual for someone to give up a seat for them.

I get that sometimes it's hard to tell if a woman's pregnant or not. But if you suspect, couldn't you just offer up the seat without explaining why? I've been offered seats by friendly New Yorkers even when I wasn't pregnant, and it never occurred to me that I looked fat. I just figured the person was being nice. And I've done the same for other people.

The excuse that you just think the lady is overweight is a poor one. After all, if a heavy woman gets on the train and looks tired and like she could use a seat more than you, why not give it to her? Does she have to be pregnant to sit down?

I've gotten on the train heavily pregnant (or carrying a newborn and several bags of groceries) and seen perfectly fit people rush past me, nearly knocking me over, to get to an unoccupied seat before I can. They know what's up; they're just pretending not to notice.

Mothercare, a British baby-gear store, sells "Baby on Board" badges for pregnant women to tack on their enormous bellies. Personally, I'd be mortified to wear one of those. Instead, I opt to be direct and ask the person nearest me if I can have his seat. You'd be surprised how flummoxed people get when a pregnant lady asks to sit down -- and how quickly they bolt from their seat.

What about you, moms? Did you find that people generally gave you seats on the bus or train when you were pregnant? Or were you left standing?

next: Brooke Mueller: 'I'm Looking Forward to the Future'
16 comments so far | Post a comment now
TH June 9, 2010, 5:48 AM

HA! i am 5’9” and was 130lbs when I was 4-5 months pregnant and my belly was HUGE at that point. On the NY NJ PATH train headed back to NJ after a weekend afternoon strolling around NY. The train was not packed but still full where all the seats were taken. I stood next to the door there was a gentleman (and i use that term loosely) stting to my right. He looked at me and turned his head and “went to sleep”. The train was beyond hot and I was beginning to feel dizzy. I am not a person to go beg anyone for anything. I thought hey a few stops I should be alright.

Well… at the next stop over a couple got on the train. they were standing directly accross from me. And the female noticed my agony and looked around the fully seated train and SHE WENT OFF! She flipped out at the men on the train calling them all sorts of names because not one offered me a seat. The guy sitting right where I was standing finally raised his head up obvioulsy mortified after the woman pointed her finger at him and said “You! especially u! ur a pathetic excuse for a man! how could you just sit there and see this woman standing there with her big belly and do nothin?!” lol I was mortified myself but I will always remember that day. That woman fought for me! how cool is that? lol

calimommi June 9, 2010, 8:03 AM

Why not just ask “Would you like to sit down?” If you see someone who looks as if they could use a seat more than you~ whether pregnant, fat, old, tired, whatever…~ be polite and offer it! Sheesh.

Anonymous June 9, 2010, 9:15 AM

Being pregant is not an excuse to be given a seat. Women need to make up their minds…either they are completely equal or not. Carry around a baby either by hand or belly does not qualify someone as handicapped or disable.

XXXX June 9, 2010, 9:39 AM

Amen anonymous. This world is filled with people that all want “special privileges”.

Stacie June 9, 2010, 10:12 AM

Annonymous and XXXX: I agree, we’re not disabled. We’re just uncomfortable and tired most of the time. While we don’t ‘deserve’ a seat, it would be very nice of you to offer one. Why wouldn’t you want to be nice to a momma-to-be? Are you really that selfish?

Lauren June 9, 2010, 12:31 PM

I agree with Stacie. Seriously, Anonymous and XXXX, you can’t show a little common courtesy? Your attitude proves your ignorance.

Anonymous June 9, 2010, 12:35 PM

This is silly. Most gentlemen use to be polite, and now a days, women of all shapes sizes and ages are not being courteous back!

I hold the door for everybody, especially older women or men, and about maybe 1 out of 10 times someone might say thanks and its usually MEN!

I think its silly to think women are entitled to more because their pregnant. They already get 3 months paid maternitly leave (at least at chemical/pharmaceutical corps like Bayer, Teva Boehringer Ingelheim).

I didnt get you pregnant and now more and more young, YOUNG girls are getting pregnant and wanting school leave. This is ridiculous. I will continue to be polite, especially to the pregnant, elderly, and handicapped. But you ARE NOT ENTITLED TO SPECIAL TREATMENT JUST CAUSE YOU GOT KNOCKED UP! Women these days are getting abortions left and right/day after pills, sleeping around, and I am suppose to feel sorry or behave differently because you DECIDED to have a baby or made A SERIES OF BAD DECISIONS.

The rule here is be polite to everyone, I am becoming more and more fed up with being polite when women just take advantage of my kind gestures and wont even notice me holding a door, letting them into bad traffic etc. I always wave thanks to drivers, say thank you to anyone who holds a door. Its gotten almost satisfying to close a door in a womens face because your kindness goes unnoticed, or to say ” OH YOUR SO WELCOME” to some bitty who refuses to notice your kind deed.

Again, I am not telling people to be rude, I just think everyone should be nice to everyone, no special treatment. I have severe gastrointestinal and esophegus problems and I get in debilitating pain and agony, but I get nothing, and few can even tell besides a painful expression on my face. Get use to rudeness, be prepared for it. But if you are genuinely kind to people, occasionally it is reciprocated back. SO BE NICE TO EVERYONE, even pregnant ladies can hold a door. There is always someone ALOT worse off than you so be thankful and thank a man or woman who does provide a kind gesture.


My two cents June 9, 2010, 1:11 PM

where do you all live? at least here in the pacific northwest, I find that my pregnancies and my young children garner me no end of help from others. Seats, doors open, cars slowing down, offers of package carrying . . .to the point of embarrassment that I am being a leech on society in general.

Rina June 9, 2010, 1:23 PM

It is NOT about special privileges for “knocked up” women. The reason pregnant women should sit down, is not because they’re tired or hot or any of those reasons (which could be applied to anyone, whether pregnant or not), but because of the possible consequences of a sudden stop. This is especially true on a bus, but also on trains and subways.
A pregnant woman’s balance is off center, and in the case of a sudden stop she could easily lose her balance and fall down or hit on a chair or pole. In that case, there could be serious damage to the fetus. Do you want a miscarriage on your “lap” because you don’t want to stand up?

Gigohead  June 9, 2010, 1:28 PM

I’d like to add my personal experience from someone who had to do a daily commute in the NYC subway system. I was a huge preggo and developed edema in my legs and feet. It was OBVIOUS that I was not meant to be on my feet and it was hard to believe that I RARELY got a seat! Folks would brush my belly with their newspapers. It’s a shame that folks say its an equality thing when it isn’t. We preggos are more clumsy during the late stage and a fast braking train poses a risk to falling. So folk need to stop being so selfish and help protect our future.

I found women to be more sympathetic. I was shocked men were so oblivious!! I’m sure if their wives, sisters or mothers were in my situation, they would have NOT appreciated the coldness.

I eventually developed preclampsia and had to have my baby two months early. I believe the stressful commute didn’t help my situation.

Christi June 9, 2010, 1:40 PM

I can’t help but wonder why I always see so much hatred toward pregnant women. I also can’t help but notice that most of the people who spew that meanness are ‘anonymous’. Seriously, you are as much part of the ‘problem’ as those you’re blaming - i.e. pregnant women.
Maybe pregnant, elderly or disabled people aren’t entitled to special treatment according to you, but I’m sure glad there are others who aren’t so hateful.
Whether we wanted it or not (like many), pregnancy surprised us, but it wasn’t an unwelcome event. Along with that surprise, I ended up suffering quite a few complications of pregnancy - not of life, but pregnancy, and I did end up temporarily disabled. My work did NOT provide any special accommodations to me, other than that I had FMLA like any other in the US who works for a large company. In fact, I ended up having to quit because of my complications, and my work wouldn’t accommodate my medical need for additional time off. I still had to go to doctor’s appointments. I had to go to the grocery store, I had to still live life, but I needed some accommodates that I am fortunate were provided by those places.
If I only had people like anon here, it is quite likely I, or my daughter, wouldn’t be here today.
As for everyone who thinks that pregnant women or those with a small child are selfish because they exist, you obviously show your complete lack of compassion. You are assuming that simply because a woman is pregnant she is still perfectly capable, or that if she has a small child she should be able to endure anything.
You have no clue, apparently, or no care, that a pregnant woman does have special needs - standing too long can cause blood pressure changes. And a sudden jerk can cause a pregnant woman, who is often unstable, to lose her balance and hit her baby on something. This can be catastrophic for a pregnant woman or her unborn child. Perhaps you’d rather that she stand and hold her child, and her groceries and balance while standing on a bus? Perhaps when the bus driver has to hit the brakes because of a careless driver, the pregnant woman drop the wriggling baby?
And for everyone who thinks this is sexist - I do feel the same consideration should be given to any man who is holding a baby as well.
Because of my high risk pregnancy, my doctors were high risk doctors thruout my pregnancy. I cannot tell you how many times, the large waiting room would be full. On several occasions there would be husbands/partners sitting next to a pregnant woman while very large pregnant women in a high risk practice stood waiting for a seat. It was disgusting. My husband ALWAYS stood to allow a woman to sit. There were several other husbands we saw there often who did the same. And every single time, I would tell ‘men’ to get their butts up and let a pregnant woman sit.
Toward the end of my pregnancy I was on very strict bedrest. I was at severe risk of passing out if I stood for more than a couple minutes. It was a risk not only to myself but my unborn daughter. I had NO problem asking for a seat and expected someone who was otherwise capable to extend that courtesy.

Anonymous June 9, 2010, 1:44 PM

TH, love your story.

I give up my seat to anyone (male, female) that looks tired, elderly, has small children, extra packages, pregnant, infirmed, etc.) It’s called helping others. Grow a pair and man up and give up a seat once in a while.

Anonymous June 9, 2010, 6:44 PM

I think Rina hit the nail in the head. its not that pregnant women want to be treated like queens. Its that they are carrying a child in their belly and yes a sudden stop could harm the child. Also, as other posters have pointed out standing too long could be hazardous for some pregnant women who have edema or preeclampsia.
If you hate pregnant women and moms, why are you on this site? Take your hatred elsewhere.

stay positive July 19, 2010, 9:00 AM

it’s no excuse.. you can just offer your seat if your not sure.. i see it all the time when i’m riding the subway.. i offer my seat because i know what it’s like to be pregnant and standing for long periods of time. it’s a shame because you are suppose to offer your seat and on some trains/subways and buses they have priority seating just for the pregnant, disabled and elderly. they’ll look and act like they don’t see you, or they’ll offer their seat when they are about to get off at their next stop.. it’s sad..

annonymous March 24, 2011, 5:20 PM

I would agree that it seems most pregnant women now-a-days seem to think they should be treated special or fawned over just because they went and got knocked up. I’m almost offended that this article was even written because it’s almost saying that we’re expected to give up our seat instead of it being a courtesy, and for all of you who call it selfish that is ridiculous. Whats more selfish someone not rushing to offer you up a seat or you expecting special treatment because you chose to have a child. I don’t believe that you should expect any special attention because you decided you wanted to get pregnant (or keep the child for that matter). as far as pregnant women having special needs, you as a mother need to be accountable for making sure those needs are met, That isn’t the responsibility of the people around you it’s your responsibility and yours alone. Don’t put yourself or your unborn child in positions where you as a mother can’t meet said needs. That would just be irresponsible on your part. As far as being off balance, hang on to something… common sense, If theres nothing around for you to hang onto and you really think its that dangerous maybe you shouldn’t put your baby in that position. And for the love of god please quit with the fishing for attention too. I’m so damn sick of all these young girls posting hundreds of pictures of their “baby bump” to try to get comments on it. You’re not special you’re just pregnant. Hundreds of thousands of women get pregnant every year, its science it happens. Get over yourselves you’re just one of many. Oh and on a closing note LAUREN… to call someone ignorant for having an opposing attitude to that of yours, is in itself ignorant.

Anonymous May 31, 2011, 2:02 PM

I’m appalled by the comment anon wrote on March 24th. I hope that jerk never has kids or goes anywhere near them.

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