What is the etiquette when wearing a “Baby on Board” badge?

For this pregnancy my commute involves travelling on the tube (London underground) into central London every day. After years of commuting in bumper to bumper traffic jams or on completely unreliable trains (anyone ever heard of French strike action?!?) on the French Riviera, this is my best commute ever. I have a 7 minute walk to our local tube station, an 18 minute direct tube ride on the northern line, and then a 10 minute walk to my office the other end. The tubes run every couple of minutes at the time of day I get them and they rarely have strikes that affect them, engineering works or other delays. So, you may think me weird, but I love my commute! It’s a little bit of “quiet” time for me before and after work when I think, read and just generally let my mind wander wherever it will.

For those of you who have travelled in London you may have seen women with big tummies sporting this attractive badge (or maybe a cleaner one than mine!):

I was in two minds about wearing one of these, as I didn’t think I’d really need one as my commute wasn’t overly long and I wasn’t fussed about standing. But then I hadn’t banked on squashed trains and over-heating, so within a month of my positive pregnancy test I’d gone and picked one of these up (a note to any French readers – you don’t need any proof to pick one up, you just ask for one at your nearest station, and it’s given to you! A very different experience from needing anything like this in France).

I started wearing one but more so that I felt justified in asking for a seat if 1st trimester nausea and tube over-heating meant I needed one. As time moved on I was grateful of this badge when the tube carriage was busy – at just 5’3″ I needed a badge up on my shoulder as nobody seemed to see the big bulging tummy lower down.

There is just one thing that confuses me – what is the official etiquette with these badges? What has your experience been as a pregnant woman wearing one? Would you ask someone to give up their seat or hope they notice you and give it up anyway? The experiences I’ve had have been varied:

  • The woman sitting in the seat that you are supposed to give up for pregnant woman looking at the badge, then my tummy, then swiftly looking back down at her newspaper/book to avoid offering her seat up. Nice!
  • The kindly person mid carriage who shouts down the carriage to me standing near the entrance, mid busy commute to offer me their seat, resulting in glares from everyone as they get shuffled out of the way to make room for him/her to stand up as I sit down. Thank you, even though this is the embarrassing one.
  • The alert person sitting in the aforementioned “pregnancy” seat, who is out of their seat while you still have one foot on the platform. Thanks!
  • The person who you ask if they mind letting you sit down when you’re really not up to standing. Thanks for the dark looks!

On the whole, my experience has been positive, with people keen to give up their seat. To those giving me evil looks, thanks all the same, it makes up for the not being allowed to eat anything interesting, drink any alcohol, do anything fun, get comfortable or sleep well. I know it was my decision to have a baby but your consideration is greatly appreciated 🙂


4 Responses

  1. Pauline says:

    I love the badge! Genius idea, and my experience on the whole was positive too.

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘etiquette’; I think it just helps to identify a pregnant woman when it’s not yet very visible; I would rather not have the horrible experience of offering to give up my seat for a poor non-pregnant woman with a fat belly.

    I found that the badge was great to make it more obvious to people that I would need to sit down, which from 6 months on was increasingly needed despite my being on the tube only for 3 stops; it’s also good in winter if you’ve got a big coat on that hides your bump. Towards the end I did ask people if they would give me a seat but thankfully the badge (and the bump) made most specific requests unnecessary. Sometimes no one would offer it and depending on how I felt I would grin and bear it.

    Strangely I found that men were quicker to give up their seat than women. And I did have one very kind bloke say very loudly ‘well, if I had a seat, I would give it up!’; unfortunately, the people on the tube that day were super rude and pretended not to have heard him :-p

  2. Franglaise Mummy says:

    What I mean by etiquette is should people give up the seats voluntarily or is it ok to ask?

    I am so with you on avoiding the risk of asking a chubby lady if she wants my seat – how embarrassing would that be?!?

    You are so right that it’s the men who give up their seats far more often than the women. Come on girls! Sisterhood and all that!

  3. Pauline says:

    Ok! In that case, I think in an ideal world you would hope that people would give up their seat voluntarily but you are totally within your right to ask. Some seats are labelled priority seats for the elderly and pregnant women for a reason. It is awkward but I know when I got to 8 months, there were times when no one would stand up and I simply Had To Ask or I would have really struggled.

  4. Franglaise Mummy says:

    I think you’re right there. You would hope that people would offer their seat, but I’m not afraid of asking if I need to sit down!

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