A general rule of thumb when travelling on the London Underground is you should always give up your seat for someone who desperately needs it.
People say Londoners are a rude, anti-social lot, and as one of them, I tend to agree. But more often than not (despite the unwritten rule that you should never hold a conversation on the Tube) we tend to do well by those who need a seat more than ourselves.
Whether they’re elderly, on crutches, or in this particular case pregnant, we tend to do the right thing by offering them our seat… or so I thought.
Mother Pukka blogger Anna Whitehouse recently conducted an experiment commissioned by Mama Mio skincare as part of their ‘I’m Expecting’ campaign. During her research, she discovered only six in 10 commuters would give up their seat for an expectant mother.
Considering the scorching hot temperatures the country has been experiencing recently, riding the London Underground – especially during the morning and evening rush hour – is the equivalent of spending 30 mins in a sauna fully clothed. It’s a melting pot of hot air, body odour and sweat. Being pregnant in those conditions only makes the situation tougher to bare.
An ambassador for the #ExpectingChange campaign, Whitehouse explained:
Pregnancy is not a weakness, but it is a vulnerability and I felt this during my first trimester in particular.
Busy, hot, and cramped commuting conditions can be incredibly stressful both physically and mentally, and being able to sit down can make a difference.
However, from my own experience, I find that people are either too engrossed in their phones to be aware of their surroundings, or won’t offer their seat unless prompted.
I’d encourage anyone who needs a seat on public transport to wear a badge and make eye contact. If that fails, don’t suffer in silence – ask for one!
Natalie Cowley, of Mama Mio, echoed those sentiments, adding:
We were surprised at the findings, as we’d expected everyone would offer up their seat to a pregnant woman.
“We were particularly shocked that only two per cent said you should offer a seat to a woman in her first trimester, considering how many suffer from severe symptoms during this time, including sickness and fatigue.
The video and study discovered that adults believe you don’t need to offer a mother-to-be a seat until she is visibly showing, with three in 10 saying so.
Furthermore, a fifth of those agreed you should only offer a seat during a woman’s third trimester, with 11 per cent saying you should during the second.
Another two per cent said you should offer up your seat when a woman is within her first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
While the figures make for shocking and disappointing results there is one fatal flaw in this research which Whitehouse and Mama Mio overlooked. Whitehouse was not wearing an ‘I’m pregnant’ badge which you need to request from TFL before you travel.
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