pregnant subway seat

Me at 24 weeks

I live in NYC and take the subway to and from work each day. My commute is between 35 minutes to an hour depending on if the train is running well and how fast I can catch my transfers...which has slowed greatly later in my pregnancy, adding about ten minutes for me to walk up and down stairs to get to my connecting train. After that I'm seriously winded. Lung capacity low.

As we know, pregnancy does a lot to our bodies. So far I've got about 25 extra pounds I'm carrying mostly all in the front throwing off my balance, my feet are swollen as are my fingers, I have to pee every 20 minutes it seems, and there is back pain, which may get worse. I know a lot of pregnant women who have had sciatica and other back issues.

I am showing and there is no confusing my baby belly with anything else -- I'm almost 25 weeks pregnant with twins and my doc says I am presenting like I am 31 weeks. You get the picture. Yet, I often do not get offered a seat on the subway.

Before I was pregnant, I would offer my seat to pregnant women -- it's common courtesy, just like I would offer my seat to someone with a broken arm or leg, the elderly, people with small babies, or anyone who seemed like they needed the seat more than I did. Again, common courtesy.

And now, pregnant, some people do offer me their seat and for that I am always really grateful. They often ask: Do you want to sit. And I respond with a smile: That would be great if you don't mind.

The worst times for me are when the subway car gets really crowded. If I'm standing, there is a good chance someone is going to bump into me or push me -- it happens all the time. But now that I'm carrying two lives, it's very different. And I also cannot stretch my arm as much as I used to -- if I'm not near a pole to hold on, this is a huge problem. The subway jerks and bounces and it can be difficult to maintain balance without holding on to something.

Some people have the argument that others are too involved in their newspaper/book/iPod to notice a pregnant woman standing in front of them. I call BS on this. Maybe one subway stop or two, but New Yorkers look around...we aren't oblivious to our surroundings.

I do feel weird about hand-outs, and there is something about asking for someone's seat that doesn't make me feel right -- so I would never do that. I try to make eye contact with people sitting and I often do, but some just look away. I also do go to the disability seat section, where people are supposed to give up their seats for those who need them. Often to no avail.

But I learned something. There are some people who feel pregnant women do not deserve to sit. And you wouldn't believe some of their comments on a recent article on Gothamist about another pregnant NYC woman and her plight to get a seat. Some people suggested for her to take a cab. Cabs are a waste of money. If I took a cab to work, it would cost me about $15 instead of the $2.50 for the subway fare. I need to save that money for my twins.

Here are a sampling of some of the comments on that article:

  • I don't get up for a pregnant women unless she seems in some sort of physical distress. I've traveled the world and actually seen women give birth in the fields while harvesting crops, so the idea that a pregnant woman is somehow more fragile is just nonsense. I will surrender my seat to the elderly, the handicapped, the tired, the stressed, the people who just look like they could use a seat, but I will be damned if I will get up because someone is pregnant. (Note he said he would surrender the seat to the "tired." Clearly this person is clueless. He went on to say, "Hey, I didn't put the kid in there, why should I be inconvenienced?)
  • If you can't afford a cab, you can't afford a kid.
  • Why do pregnant women feel so entitled?
  • Pregnancy is not a disability. Women are no more frail than men. Quit whining and just deal with the discomfort. Few babies weigh more than 10 lbs. at birth anyway. (Also clueless.)
  • Pregnancy is a choice in this country. No one made you do it. You should not get special treatment. If someone chopped off their own legs on purpose, I wouldn't give them a seat either.
  • Don't like it? Don't breed.

OK, I had to stop reading the comments. My blood is starting to boil.

What are your thoughts on this? What would you do? Do pregnant women deserve to be given a seat?

Related posts:

Should Pregnant Women Get Special Privileges?

Discrimination During Pregnancy On the Rise