The Awkward Situation of Being Pregnant on Public Transportation

By: Heather Keniston

If you’re either a pregnant woman or already a mom, you know walking can be quite challenging once you’re far along. It can also be hard to stand for long periods of time and it can even be painful.

Those all too familiar swollen ankles seem to scream at you from somewhere beneath the belly bump, and even though you can’t see them, they’re there and they are not happy.

So, you develop “the waddle” –A way of walking as a pregnant woman in which one appears to be a penguin and the stomach area protrudes forward as the rest of your body leans backwards. It’s tough and I promise it’s as uncomfortable as it looks!

Some great strides have been made to help a pregnant woman during pregnancy and I’m happy there have been some improvements for making a prego’s day a little easier to maneuver; however, there are also things that still infuriate me.

First, my hat is off to the blessed soul who came up with “expectant mother” parking spots across the United States. Whether you as a pregnant woman agree with using them, and do use them, or if you choose not to use them, I’m just thankful they’re there. Even if I personally haven’t used them, it’s just an awesome thing that they exist and serve a great convenience for moms-to-be.

We’ve all had those days as a pregnant woman when we’ve had morning sickness, we’re running late for work, it’s pouring outside, there’s a coffee stain on your shirt, and you need to run by the store to grab a tide-to-go pen and a ginger-ale to settle your stomach. These moments are when you praise the inventor of the “expectant mother” parking spot.

But imagine this same morning, except you’re due in 2 weeks or past your due date. Add those swollen ankles and fatigue from not sleeping because your stomach is ginormous and you are one tired mom-to-be. You live in the city and your transportation to work is a subway, a bus or train.

You get on the public transportation and it’s completely full. You’re silently praying you find a seat, but as you look around, the reality is, they’re all taken. So you’re forced to stand.


Why? How is it that you’re that far along as a pregnant woman and not one person gets up to give their seat?

A pregnant woman from New York had taken notice to this very thing throughout her first pregnancy and a good portion of her second pregnancy. Not once was she offered a seat and it bothered her. After all, isn’t it just the right thing to do? 

During her second pregnancy, she stepped onto the subway around 8 months pregnant and a man, on his cell phone, looked up from what he was doing, saw the pregnant woman, and immediately became embarrassed he hadn’t seen her sooner.  He got up and offered his seat to her.

She had pre-planned to present a trophy to the first person who offered his seat to her while she was pregnant so she presented him with her token of appreciation.

This is a great story and it makes me so happy to hear that someone gave up their seat for this pregnant woman on the subway. However, it also infuriates me that it took this woman all the way through her first pregnancy and eight months into her second before someone noticed her and offered up their seat.

We live in a fast-paced world, always needing to be on our phones, checking our email and communicating with clients. But are we so busy that we forget about these small acts of consideration for others? Are we that self-absorbed?

It all comes down to supporting mom and baby.  It’s the small gestures and considerations for others that makes their day a little easier.  Being pregnant isn’t necessarily a “handicap”, but it’s a common courtesy that we can extend to those that are physically strained.  Even a pregnant celebrity, like Olivia Wilde commented on the inability to get a seat on a subway when she was pregnant:


If you yourself have been offered a seat on the subway or train, or have witnessed someone give-up their seat for another person, I’d love to hear your story in the comments. If you haven’t and find yourself like me: Frustrated with society, what can be done?

On May 14, 2017, an article was published by the Seattle Times letting the world know about a measure that has been taken by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

They are going to be launching a trial-run of a new program called "Baby on Board". It comes in the form of a button that a pregnant woman can order in advance that is worn on their subway ride as a message for fellow riders to give-up their seats.

Now, some moms will choose not to wear this button, even though they are pregnant. That’s okay. Others will want to wear this button because they will feel that wearing this will help the public out. Often times, people aren’t sure if a woman is pregnant and don’t want to offend her, so they remain quiet and seated. 

Myself and other parents often comment to their children, “Watch where you’re walking” or “Be polite.” I often find myself saying “situational awareness…try it.” We know what’s right, because we teach it to our kids every day. Do I expect my 7-year old to know when to stand up for an adult if they don’t have a seat- ABSOLUTELY!  At what age do you stop offering your seat to another person?  The answer should be- NEVER, but maybe we all need a refresher on our situational awareness and manners.  Making someone’s day a little easier isn’t difficult, but it does require noticing the opportunity.


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