I’m Pregnant, and Yes, I Would Love to Sit Down

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I passed out on the subway when I was in my second trimester. Well, I managed to get off the subway and onto the platform before I hit the floor, but it was an unpleasant experience. (There were many people who helped me, and all was absolutely fine.) Since then, I’ll wait for crowded streetcars and subways to pass before I get on, and I’ll accept a seat when it’s offered, in case I need to put my head between my knees to prevent myself from passing out again. And other pregnant women may love a seat, too, to help them relieve pain, dizziness or just a general fear of toppling over (balance gets trickier!).

But the issue is, there are a whole lot of people who don’t offer pregnant ladies (or injured people, or elderly people, or those with mobility issues) a seat on public transit. The first time I was offered a seat on public transit, I was well into my sixth month of pregnancy. And, I will add that not ONCE has a seat been offered to me by a man. Not once. I should say: I am generally an optimist. Maybe an idealist. I tend to believe that people are inherently good and that the world is generally a nice place to be. But this has really baffled me.

I have used the following lines of reasoning to justify this lack of courtesy to myself: “Maybe they can’t tell because I have my coat on.” “Maybe they’re just too caught up in their book to notice my belly.” “I think they’re all asleep. They’re probably just all asleep.” “Maybe they’re not sure that I’m pregnant, and they are worried they’ll offend me.” But I have seen comfortably seated people (often middle-aged men, oddly), look directly at my clearly pregnant belly as I stand there in front of them and then look away. I’m even guilty of opening my coat, rubbing my belly in a maternal sort of way and looking as beleaguered as possible in the hopes that someone would offer. (I know I could ask. And if I was about to faint, I would. But it’s awkward, let’s be honest.)

A friend recently recounted a story in which a friend of hers said: “Why should I get up out of my seat for a pregnant lady? It was her choice to get pregnant, not mine.” An interesting argument, but not exactly a compassionate one. Yes, in ideal circumstances, getting pregnant is a choice. But does that make pregnant women unworthy of kindness or courtesy? If a person broke their leg while skiing, does it make sense to not offer them a seat on public transit because it was their choice to go skiing?

I don’t always need to sit down on the subway or the streetcar. And, as I said, I try to avoid situations where I won’t get a seat to begin with. And, yes, I’m sure you’d much rather be sitting down too. I try to make sure that I express my gratitude to the women who let me take their seats, but I’m not sure it really comes across. But I think I can safely say on behalf of pregnant ladies everywhere: if you’ve offered a seat (even if it hasn’t been taken), your kindness is very much appreciated. I hope it’s catching.

7 responses to “I’m Pregnant, and Yes, I Would Love to Sit Down”

  1. Mary Watson says:

    My husband offered a seat to a pregnant woman once and she refused. He could not bring himself to continue sitting while she stood so he got up anyways and left the seat empty. The woman never did sit down while we were on the train. He continues to offer his seat to anyone who is pregnant, elderly etc.

  2. Emily Leiphart says:

    When I was pregnant, I had the same experience on the TTC. One time, on a crowded streetcar, my belly was practically under the chin of a 20-something year old woman and all she did was stare up at me. She didn’t say anything and would periodically look up at me. I was eight months pregnant so it was obvious. More than 10 stops later, a young man from several rows back, came up to me and said I could have his seat which I thought was very sweet. Another time, I actually had to ask a woman if I could have her seat, in which case she gave it up but the point is I shouldn’t have to ask. In general, I think common courtesy and good manners are a lost cause in society these days. It’s very sad.

  3. Kira M says:

    Interesting but I believe this is sadly Canadian/ American culture. The way we teach our kids “it’s important to love yourself”. People have become quite selfish. On other note, my husband ALWAYS offers his seat, and he uses the transit on daily basis. Once he told me that he offered a seat to a pregnant woman. She took it but she gave him such a look that he felt like he was soliciting her.

  4. Sara says:

    Wait till you have the baby and are carrying a newborn because you don’t want to deal with a stroller on a bus, etc. NO ONE MOVES! It is amazing! Sad really!

  5. Paula says:

    I’ve experienced the same thing, every time a seat became empty someone jumped in front of me and took the seat. After the fourth person I was finally given the seat and refused it, I walked through the subway and all anyone did was stare at me! At that point I was too angry to take anyone’s seat even if they had offered, I wanted to cry from my angry and hide it in the Metro paper covering my face. I’m 32 wks pregnant and you can’t tell me that I don’t look pregnant I’m out there! Our society has changed, everyone closes an eye, and they hope you don’t notice, and I do find it is the men more than the women that close there eyes. Im tired of making excuses for why I’m not offered a seat, I will always offer a seat, and my unborn child if a boy will be taught manners towards women and elderly etc.- like we once were all taught and have convienently forgotten.

  6. Tannis says:

    The last time I was pregnant 8 months plus, coming home on the skytrain which was packed. No onewould offer me or the elderly seniors around me their seats. The seats were full by middle age men, teens and gen-y’s who all avoided eye contact or were to involved with their cell phones to notice or care. I guess it’s just the way society is raising kids these days. Very selfishly, sadly it is a all about me generation now.

  7. I am 5 months pregnant and JUST last week I fainted on the subway. I was feeling fine, so when a seat was offered to me, I declined. I will also note that it was a man, and a young (early 20’s) man at that. I figure that since I sit all day at a desk, it’s good for me to stand once in awhile. Well, no sooner had I turned down the seat did I get really hot, my hearing went and then I felt myself start to slump forward. Luckily the same young man and his friend grabbed and got me a seat…I assume this because I had blacked out for a few seconds. They were really kind and the woman next to me kept asking if I was alright and if she could walk me to my office. Thank you for sharing your story…it has made me feel a little more “normal” in this weird, wild world of pregnancy.
    I will also say that VERY rarely has a seat been offered to me, and until this day, NEVER by a man. I have also done the “stick my belly out” and rub it a little maternally to hopefully elicit the kindness of strangers…and nada.
    Before pregnancy, I always offered my seat to a pregnant woman, the elderly and someone that just looked like they needed it more than me. I will also say that I will teach my daughter and any future children to do the same. Kindness never goes out of style.