Thursday, May 08, 2008

What do you do when you see a very pregnant woman on BART?

I've written about this before and have gotten all types of comments back. Recently, I've had several friends who are expecting and our conversations have ignited my interest in this topic.

For as long as I can remember, I have always given up my BART seat to someone who is visibly pregnant. When I don't have a seat and they remain standing, I let them stand in my space if it's closer to a safety bar. It's no secret that the extra weight, the fatigue, the limited range of motion, and the slightly slower ability to react can be potentially dangerous for a pregnant woman. Let's say a train suddenly jerks, the rest of us usually find our balance after a quick bending of the knees. For a pregnant woman? If she is not holding on to something, she falls. The fall doesn't just hurt her but could also jeopardize the fetus. We all know that but for one reason or another, many pregnant women remain standing on BART. I'd give up a seat to a visibly pregnant woman before I give it up to elderly person who appears healthy enough to stand.

I know opinions differ on this subject. I recall one man who left a comment expressing his disagreement saying that society already expects him to give up the seat to elderly and handicapped, now pregnant woman too? It's not fair, he says.

There is no BART rule that says you have to give up your seat to a visibly pregnant woman, so no, of course you don't need to.

So what do you do when you see a very pregnant woman on BART? We all know there's some discomfort associated with being me, I think they deserve a seat more than the rest of us.


Anonymous said...

It depends how big they are. If they are a few weeks from popping open, then yea, I give them my seat. Otherwise, they can stand like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

As an employee, if the train is nearing standing room only I will give up my seat without thinking twice about it, regardless of who the person is. I'm still young enough to stand for 42 minutes, about my average commute time

Anonymous said...

you advocating for pregnant women, to me, is kind of like when Bill O'reilly advocates for child rights. Its a no brainer issue and doesn't make you a better person because WHAT KIND OF PERSON DOESN"T OFFER THEIR SEAT TO A PREGNANT WOMAN!?!

Anonymous said...

Have you yourself been pregnant before? Sounds like you have first hand experience. When you were pregnant is this what you expect people to do for you?

bartmusings said...

Funny you should ask. I am almost 4 months pregnant now (first pregnancy) but not showing at all. I don't expect anyone to give up a seat for me now or later when I'm huge.

I've always given up my seat to a pregnant woman for as long as I can remember, even without first hand experience. Don't know why, maybe because I am female?

I am not judging anyone who doesn't, really I am not. So please don't feel like you have to agree here. Some pregnant women probably won't even want to take up someone's seat.

As I start to show more in the next few months, I don't think I will expect anyone to do anything for me. I just don't expect it to happen on BART. I'll be sure to grab on carefully to a safety bar instead.

Anonymous said...

to anon3's question what kind of person doesn't give up their seat to a pregnant woman? uh, i don't, if someone overweight can stand, they should be able to too. why don't all men just not even bother getting on the train then?

Anonymous said...

You know sometimes it gets hard not to flame--but anon4, you're pushing it. Being pregnant is NOT being overweight. Your center of gravity does not shift with "being overweight", but does with pregnancy.

Therefore, balance is not evenly distributed. You add the other pregnancy related issues, such as heartburn, acid reflux (and a couple of things you don't really want to talk about in polite company) and hormones out of control. All of those things combine to form an actual disability; one that will resolve itself in time.

Fortunately, during my two pregnancies, I never had the problem with folks who wouldn't let me sit; most people went out of their way to help me out with doors, seats, etc. I did NOT expect the courtesy, but it was well appreciated.

This Mother's Day, take some time to appreciate all of the mothers who stood or stand. Congratulations BART Musings!

Jimmy Chan said...

Anonymous #3, read Anonymous #1 and #5. That's why this is a discussion.

I would give up my seat to a women who is roughly 7-9 months or appears big. My wife is 7 months and she has lost some of her balance. Being pregnant is NOT the same as being overweight. If you're overweight your body has adjusted over a period of time - and if you fall you only hurt yourself. Pregnant women often are less stable and still adjusting as they grow in size and weight.

Anonymous said...

I am a woman, but have not been pregnant. I always offer my seat to a pregnant woman, no matter how far along she is. Most of the time, the woman will take the seat and be very appreciative. Occassionally, the woman will opt to stand, but I am glad that I offered her a seat, anyway. Another point, when it's hot I am especially sympathetic to pregnant women because I know that they are especially uncomfortable during that time. The sudden weight gain, the tendency to retain water an the effect changing hormones have on the bones and joints, all of that is exacerbated by the heat and having to stand on a crowded train.

Anonymous said...

i must in the minority here but seats on bart except the ADA seats are first come first serve. why shouldn't someone else deserve to sit down more than a woman who is pregnant? how do you know that person isn't sick with the flu or just happen to have masive migraines?

Anonymous said...

According to the state of California, pregnancy is a disability. I guess that would technically require you to give up those ADA seats to a pregnant woman. Just food for thought.

Anonymous said...

I'm a woman and I offer my seat to pregnant women. Isn't it interesting that it's males who are not only unwilling to give up a seat to a pregnant woman but are outright hostile about it.

This reminds me of the 20/20 television show episodes called "What Would You Do?" It's almost always women who come to the aid of someone in need of help and men just choose to glide by and pretend not to see what's happening.

Anonymous said...

I give up my seat to anyone who visibly needs it: pregnant, elderly, carrying a cane, unsteady, or even just who look like their feet hurt. If they don't look like they need it, then no (hey, MY feet hurt too sometimes), but I err on the side of kindness.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think the Bay Area has so many transplants that the general sense of manners that has developed in other parts of the country has never gotten critical mass here. Or perhaps some of it is just different manners from other places.

One can see it on BART when the doors open and people waiting on the platform rush in, heedless of and perhaps stampeding over those attempting to exit.

Why not offer your seat to a visibly pregnant woman? Sure, you could sit there in comfort. But why not offer to someone who may need it more than you, or who may be in some level of distress, even if it's not immediately apparent?

You could give her the eye--what is she doing, after all, bringing another child into the world in this country, with its attendant high per-capita resource use and already overcrowded BART cars?

Perhaps, despite being an urban professional, the pregnant woman is dressed like a refugee from some horribly flooded part of the world, in some sort of rumpled "business casual" wear indicative of the minimal fashion sense and lack of snappy dressing that sadly afflicts so many in the Bay Area.

"That poor kid will probably wind up wearing socks, Birkenstocks, and a ratty t-shirt," you might be thinking to yourself. "How can I support that?"

Worse, this mother could be one of those who will bring her screaming baby into restaurants or onto airplanes where her fellow patrons can enjoy its fits. "This might be my only chance to get back at her," you might be thinking. "It's like putting money in the bank!"

Well, I can see your point. I often find myself wanting to ask people "Have you considered something with a collar?" "Perhaps a day without that denim jacket?" The problem is it's not about her, it's about you.

It's such a simple thing to do, to consider someone else's needs, to make a small offer to be of assistance to someone who might need it--or, perhaps, might just graciously decline! And if enough people do it, it becomes much easier for everyone to get through the day.

You'll be able to get a seat when you need it. Maybe someone will hold the door or the elevator for you. A spring will come into your step as you consider how you helped someone out.


Anonymous said...

I would definitely give up my seat to a noticeably pregnant woman. I have been told by pregnant friends that 9 times out of 10 if anyone gives up a seat for them it's another woman. Having grown up in the South it's disconcerting to see men sit and appear to not even consider giving up their seats.

bartmusings said...

Nice to have your perspective, GA Transplant.

Today, in a crowded train, I saw another woman give up her seat to a very pregnant woman who looks like she shouldn't be going to work! Maybe women just understand each other.