A few weeks ago, I found myself on a particularly freezing day in a precarious balancing act: donning a bulky winter coat, with multiple layers underneath, and juggling my purse, my laptop, my lunch and a container of cookies for that night’s office party—all this while trying desperately not to slip on all the wet patches on the subway platform. I should also mention: I’m pregnant. (Stakes raised.)
As I shuffled onto the train, alongside millions (OK, tens) of other commuters, I looked around for a seat—no luck. And that’s when I felt seriously woozy. So much so that I needed to squat down on the floor to catch my breath. While I’m fortunate enough to have missed out on morning sickness throughout my pregnancy (props to all those nauseous moms-to-be), something about the lack of air and the jerky movements of the train just makes me feel funny. And although I looked like a hot, sweaty mess, I didn’t necessarily look pregnant. Which is why no one offered me their seat throughout my entire first trimester (and the start of my second).
A quick survey with other moms revealed the same issue—you want to sit down on public transport but until you’re bursting at the seams (or out of the winter season when everyone looks a little stocky), no one knows you’re expecting. On the flip side—what do you do when you have a seat, see someone who you think might be pregnant, but you’re not entirely sure? Do you run the risk of offending them by getting up?
Enter the genius "Baby on Board" pin. Given out by the London transport authorities (you just fill out a quick form, and they send one home to you for free), these badges let other travelers know that you’re expecting and need a seat. (Even Kate Middleton wore one.)
An English colleague gave me one a few weeks ago, and I’ve been wearing it ever since. I can’t say that it works every time (look up, people!), but it definitely helps. In a very non-scientific experiment, I’d estimate that wearing the badge has gotten me a seat on the train twice as often as before. Not too shabby.
Now if only we could get transport companies on this side of the pond to follow suit. And maybe we could take a few notes from the British maternity leave package while we’re at it…