Poor Commuter Etiquette Sees Nearly Half Of Expectant Mothers Use Public Transport Without Being Offered Seats

Maurice Richmond
By Maurice Richmond,
updated on Jul 2, 2018

Poor Commuter Etiquette Sees Nearly Half Of Expectant Mothers Use Public Transport Without Being Offered Seats

The battle for peak-time public transport seats sees nearly half of us act oblivious to pregnant women searching for a seat, a study has revealed

Just six out of 10 morning and afternoon rush-hour commuters would give up their seat for an expectant mother, according to 2,000 regular public transport users.

It comes as part of the "I'm Expecting" campaign is leading calls for expectant mums to speak up when seats on trains and buses are not forthcoming.

In general, our attitudes to public transport seating revealed some shocking statistics in the study:

  • One in four commuters chose not to give up their seat for a pregnant woman in case she wasn't actually expecting a child
  • Worryingly, three in 10 of the study believed pregnant women should not be offered a seat until she is "visibly showing", 18% would offer seats during a woman's third trimester, 11% during the second and just 2% would offer up their seat when a woman is within her first three months of pregnancy
  • One in 20 opted to keep their reserved seat, rather than give it up for an expectant mother
  • 7% of women admitted they were mistaken for being pregnant and were offered a seat
  • A staggering one fifth of mothers-to-be revealed they were "too embarrassed" to ask for a seat themselves
  • One in five commuters said they were afraid of who they might offend by offering up a seat on public transport, and consequently didn't bother.

Anna Whitehouse, a campaigner and ambassador for the #ExpectingChange campaign launching on July 3, revealed the physical and mental stress of commuting for expectant mothers.

Anna also revealed that the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy proved particularly challenging on public transport.

She said: "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, who commissioned the study, said: "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 2% 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 study also revealed that among the points of etiquette commuters are falling down on are: not letting people off before you get on, listening to excessively loud music and failure to move down the bus or train when space is limited.

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression whilst pregnant, don't feel that you're facing it alone. To find professional support and information visit Counselling Directory.

For information on public transport support for pregnant women, visit Made For Mums.

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