Travelling on public transport when pregnant – essential advice

We asked you to tell us your experiences of travelling by train, tube or bus in pregnancy and boy, did you have some corkers! Here’s what you said, plus travel info from major train lines and the London Underground…

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You might think the average commuter is simply ignoring you while you stand, pregnant bump clearly on display, eagerly waiting to be offered a seat. But often people aren’t trying to be rude – they simply don’t want to offend you. Even at MFM HQ we chatted about how we’ve eyed a bump from all angles, desperately trying to work out whether the woman was pregnant. MFM user Natalie Underwood, noted how one man attempted to avoid the confusion, demanding of her, “If you’re pregnant you can have my seat but if you’re just fat you can forget about it”. Think we’ll stick to guessing…

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To ask or not to ask for seat?

MFM user Emma Barrett says she “would ask for a seat if [she] needed one, no point standing there hoping!” However, Chiara Roose found herself at the receiving end of a fellow commuter’s anger after “he had a meltdown”, shouting that he’d only just got a seat for himself.

Pregnant and vocal

After the rest of the passengers on a Number 13 bus didn’t offer MFM user Angie ‘Flanagan’ Turner a seat, she decided to address the bus. Angie declared, “I’d just like to thank each and every one of you for not completely ignoring the fact that I’m quite obviously heavily pregnant […] You must spend the rest of the day with a really warm feeling that you did something so selfless”. Power to Angie! Perhaps make sure you’re near your bus stop if you try this one… 

Helpful train passengers vs unhelpful train staff

Fellow passengers actually got behind MFM user Lauren Goodchild when she was forced “to sit on the floor outside an almost empty first class at 38 weeks pregnant”. While the First Class passengers were keen to give Lauren a seat, the train staff wouldn’t allow it due to her ticket and gave her a free bottle of water instead! As Lauren notes, this was just what she didn’t need with “a bouncing baby on bladder”.

Transport for London’s Baby on Board badges

To avoid having your lumps and bumps ogled by fellow commuters, why not make the most of Transport for London’s handy Baby on Board badge? As MFM user Helen Dryburgh kindly pointed out, you can pick them up at most manned stations or by getting in touch with the Customer Service Centre by calling 0845 330 9880 or emailing babyonboard@tfl.gov.uk. By wearing a badge you should be able to get a seat with little effort. It will also save you and your fellow commuters any embarrassment if it’s just a bit of extra holiday weight!

Use smart phone apps

The internet and smart phones are making travelling by train that bit easier. With TFL you can now sign up to receive alerts to your phone. This will enable you to prepare for delays and also give you a heads up if an escalator or lift is broken at a station. You can also download information from the TFL website, which lists the stations that are not step free. Those clever guys at Virgin Trains have also made it possible for you to buy tickets (without card charges) and check times on most smart phones.

First Great Western and Virgin Trains upgrades

Mums-to-be who are 25 weeks pregnant can apply to have their standard season tickets authorised for an upgrade to First Class on First Great Western trains, if no seats are available in Standard Class. Simply pop the relevant information along to First Great Western’s Customer Services Team. Virgin Trains also notes that it’s Train Managers have the discretion to upgrade someone to First Class if they are experiencing difficulties or discomfort.

Make the most of priority areas

You should always get the support of bus or train managers/drivers if you ask someone more able to give up a priority seat for you. In addition, ensure you use the larger areas provided to store buggies and other baby gear. These are available on most buses and London Underground lines too (they are currently being added to the Victoria and Metropolitan lines). Plus, there are now over 250 wide-aisle gates at stations so you don’t have to wait for a gate to be opened.

Look out for child friendly carriages

On longer journeys entertaining older kids while towing a buggy or sporting a bump can be tough. Both Virgin and First Great Western Trains have designated areas for families with children where they can plug in to downloadable games or enjoy a complimentary bag of goodies. On Virgin Trains, head to the onboard shop and with First Great Western, look out for it’s marked carriages.

Always ask

Travelling while pregnant can be a difficult task, especially if you have other children in tow. Grab ticket upgrades with both hands and make the most of being in a position to ask for priority seats. Check online or speak to Customer Services if you have queries before you travel.

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Which train companies do you travel with? What are their policies? Let us know…

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