THE BLOG

Please Mind the Bump - A Very Open Letter to My Fellow Tube Commuters

17/02/2016 23:14 GMT | Updated 17/02/2017 10:12 GMT

To the men and women who travel everyday on the tube, bleary-eyed in the morning and just as sleepy on the way home, I get that a nice comfy seat is exactly what you want.

I get that there's nothing like sinking down after a mad morning rush to the tube and after a crazy day at work - and I totally understand how great it feels. I used to be one of those people - and in fact I still am.

However, in 13 weeks everything has changed for me. Now when I step onto the tube in the morning, I'm travelling to work as a twosome.

You of course won't know that winter means that any bump I have is covered by big bulky coats.

And that's why I got myself a baby on board badge.

Naïve as I was, I thought it signalled an automatic seat - after all I would always jump up when I saw a pregnant woman coming onto the tube. But I'm sad to say that I was mistaken.

In fact it seems that wearing one of these is more a chance to give me a look of disgust, before quickly averting your eyes and hoping I haven't seen you look at the badge hanging off my coat.

And I'm not being paranoid either. A survey by London Underground in 2006 revealed that 35% of mums-to-be were never offered a seat, while 71% cited rude and discourteous behaviour.

Almost 10 years on, it seems the stigma of a travelling bump still remains.

I can count the number of times that I've been offered a seat on one hand, so here's a little message to all the people who have really made me feel like a leper because I'm wearing a badge and asking for a seat.

To the young teenage girl with her headphones on...

I saw you take a look at me when I stepped onto the tube, boiling hot after a fast walk to the station. You probably wondered why I looked so tired and hot after coming in from the cold. Of course you wouldn't yet know how pregnancy makes you breathless and raises your body temperature. I used to run for miles, now I can barely walk a few paces without stopping to catch my breath.

You wouldn't know that growing a baby is hard work - even from the very beginning. I hope that if it happens to you that you have someone considerate enough to get off their seat for you, or you remember that time you looked up and down in disgust at that hot and bothered woman and then looked away.

To the guy who looked up at my badge and then promptly (pretended?) to fall asleep (yes really)...

I understand you may be tired. And perhaps I'm just envious that you can fall asleep so, so quickly (if you really did). Because being pregnant has the opposite effect. Even when I do sleep, I'm wide awake at a time when I used to get home after a night out.

And let's not forget that pregnancy makes you pretty much exhausted too. I wonder what you'd say if you had a pregnant daughter and she told you about a man who pretended to fall asleep when he saw her, just so he could keep his seat.

To the young smirking couple...

I've been in the same curled up position with my other half on the tube. It's comfy and cosy and it's easy not to notice anyone else around you. However - and maybe it's just me - if you're sitting in the priority seat, it helps to look around every now again.

And when you do and spot that baby on board badge - don't look away and whisper to each other rather too loudly about 'that pregnant girl'. Instead, get up and offer her a seat.

And to the people who have got up...

To the nurse who had clearly just finished a long shift and insisted I take her seat, to the lady who was on crutches who stated 'pregnancy was far harder than getting around on a broken foot', thank you. Thank you to you, and the man who jumped up as soon as he saw me from the other side of the train, for your consideration.

If we all start making more of an effort then maybe we can change this. The saying may go, 'pregnancy isn't an illness', but it's hard work! Just remember this next time you see a poor harassed woman with a baby on board badge...