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Is She Pregnant or Fat? Either Way, Give Her Your Seat on the Bus

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Ronda Kaysen: The reason why no one stands up for pregnant ladies on the bus isn't because the world is full of a bunch of selfish jerks with sore feet. It's because most people can't seem to tell the difference between a baby bump and a big belly.

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Two separate surveys have found that most pregnant women are left standing on public transit because other passengers are too embarrassed to inquire if the large load that the woman is carrying is, in fact, a fetus. As for the other people who don't give up their seats (the ones who do know that the pregnant lady is standing for two) ... well, they're just selfish, the surveys found.

"It is ridiculous that the health of young moms is being put at risk because of embarrassment," Nifa McLaughlin, editor of, told the Daily Mail. (Gurgle conducted one of the surveys.) "It is worth risking a red face if it ensures that a pregnant woman is able to complete a crowded rush-hour journey safely."

In a separate survey by the baby charity Tommy's, half of the pregnant women polled said it was unusual for someone to give up a seat for them.

I get that sometimes it's hard to tell if a woman's pregnant or not. But if you suspect, couldn't you just offer up the seat without explaining why? I've been offered seats by friendly New Yorkers even when I wasn't pregnant, and it never occurred to me that I looked fat. I just figured the person was being nice. And I've done the same for other people.

The excuse that you just think the lady is overweight is a poor one. After all, if a heavy woman gets on the train and looks tired and like she could use a seat more than you, why not give it to her? Does she have to be pregnant to sit down?

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I've gotten on the train heavily pregnant (or carrying a newborn and several bags of groceries) and seen perfectly fit people rush past me, nearly knocking me over, to get to an unoccupied seat before I can. They know what's up; they're just pretending not to notice.

Mothercare, a British baby-gear store, sells "Baby on Board" badges for pregnant women to tack on their enormous bellies. Personally, I'd be mortified to wear one of those. Instead, I opt to be direct and ask the person nearest me if I can have his seat. You'd be surprised how flummoxed people get when a pregnant lady asks to sit down -- and how quickly they bolt from their seat.

What about you, moms? Did you find that people generally gave you seats on the bus or train when you were pregnant? Or were you left standing?


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