Riding Metro while pregnant

Mom and 1st daughter on kid's first Metro ride. (Photo from Dana Hedgpeth)
Mom and first daughter on kid’s first Metro ride. (Photo from Dana Hedgpeth)

Almost two years ago when I was pregnant with my first child, I wrote about my experiences trying to find a seat on Metro.

It wasn’t as easy as you would think. Even when I looked like a refrigerator and the sight of me coming should have scared folks into moving out of a seat, many of my fellow Metro train riders acted oblivious. Don’t get me wrong, some did offer me a seat and were polite about it. Others buried their noses in electronic devices or newspapers.

The discussion of finding a seat on public transportation when you’re pregnant is popping up again. (Author’s note: Coincidentally, I’m again pregnant with my second child, so this is on my mind as well.)

I recently received an e-mail from a reader/Metro rider sharing her views of being pregnant and riding the system. Sarah Cahalan of Maryland agreed to let us share it.

I am 6 months pregnant and generally pretty slim, plus we’ve all been wearing bulky winter clothes.  So I’ve just assumed that I don’t look like I need a seat, and that’s why no one has offered one on WMATA.  (I ride metro and buses.)

But yesterday I shared a pole on the Red Line with a woman who must have been over 8 months pregnant.  No one could have missed it.  No one offered her a seat, either.  We were surrounded by undergraduates and young professionals.  I doubt that every one of them had an invisible disability.  

I know that those of us who need a seat should pipe up and ask for one.  But I also think that it is good manners to offer unprompted.  I have also seen people with crutches, casts, and arm braces standing on the metro while apparently able-bodied people ignored them and remained seated.

I did not realize before I became pregnant that even when she is in good health a pregnant woman will often feel dizzy or have trouble balancing.  Now that I know I will be more generous and alert to fellow riders who could use a rest.

I hope that we can all treat our fellow riders kindly.

Thanks for writing and for letting us share this, Sarah.

Don’t get me wrong – riders with disabilities, the elderly or those in special needs should clearly get priority seating on Metro’s trains and buses over even a nine-month pregnant lady.

That said, if you see a lady who’s clearly pregnant waddling along and you’re able-bodied and can stand — give her a break and most importantly a seat. Please.

Don’t let this happen here: In London, a woman who was five months pregnant felt ill and ended up having to sit on the floor because no one would give up their seat, according to the Daily Mail.

Share your experiences with us in the comment area below. And for more transportation-related news, click here.

Dana Hedgpeth is the Washington Post’s lead reporter in covering the Metro rail and bus systems in the D.C. region and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) that runs them.
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