To Sit or Not to Sit

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Karyna Soco-Kinsella, a 27-year-old Sustainability Administrator working for Bupa and living in London, describes the trials and tribulations of travelling on the tube while pregnant.

Everyday, as I step onto the train to commute to work, I wonder if someone will be kind enough to give me, a 13-week pregnant woman, a seat.

I had a bad experience in January when I was standing on a packed train for 40 minutes from Wanstead to Holborn and suffered a minor panic attack, along with nausea, light-headedness (the joys of morning sickness) and almost fainted. Luckily, I had my husband with me or else I would've collapsed on to some unlucky stranger's lap.

This prompted me to get the lovely 'Baby on Board' badge that London Underground provides for pregnant ladies to notify everyone (in a not so blatant 'I'M PREGNANT LET ME SIT DOWN!' type way) of the growing bump underneath my big winter coat.

As I see the train pulling up beside the platform each morning, I can’t help but let out a groan of despair at the amount of people packed in the carriages. On boarding, I stand, with my badge visible for all to see. I try to look polite and unassuming, but in my head, I'm going slightly crazy.

Who will actually look up and see the badge? There's a healthy looking man/woman in his/her mid-thirties/twenties. Maybe if I stare at them long enough, they'll get the hint. By now, no one has glanced in my direction, or if they have, they've seen the badge and looked directly back down at their book or newspaper as if they did not see a thing.

At this point, as the train sways, I'm beginning to slightly panic and start to feel sick. The thought of not getting a seat just increases those feelings. I try to breathe slowly. My head is racing with questions: why doesn't that guy/girl just look up from their newspaper? Should I say something? What would I even say? 'Hi, I don't mean to be rude, but you look quite healthy. I'm 13 weeks pregnant. May I please have your seat?' Right! Then I'd look like a complete freak on the train.

As I see the train pulling up beside the platform each morning, I can’t help but let out a groan of despair at the amount of people packed in the carriages

Last week, I was on a District line train when a woman my age asked if I would like to sit down. She looked directly at the man sitting opposite her, who then looked up, saw my badge, and sheepishly offered his seat.

I am so thankful to her for actually saying something. This woman told he how her friend had always asked for seats when pregnant. But so many people just blatantly do not look up. They value their seats so much even when there is a sign clearly posted above their heads "Priority Seating". This begs the question of whether I actually have the right to ask for a seat just because I’m pregnant? Or am I being too polite?

It is actually difficult for a woman during her first trimester (and throughout the rest of pregnancy) to stand up for long-periods of time, especially on an over-crowded train. A woman in her first trimester may not be noticeably pregnant, yet suffers from some of the worst symptoms such as nausea and exhaustion.

I am always grateful (and slightly embarrassed) when someone finally looks up from their paper/book, spots my badge and gives up their seat. I have a split-second of guilt, immediately erased by the relief and comfort of sitting down. What is worrying, though, is that I even had that internal battle with myself about whether or not I should say something!

Now, the question is... may I please have your seat?

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Picture credit: Rex Features