Pregnant woman refused seat on train

The Duchess of Cambridge was given a 'Baby on Board' badge when pregnant.
The Duchess of Cambridge was given a 'Baby on Board' badge when pregnant. Photo: AP

Anyone who has travelled by public transport when pregnant knows sometimes it is not the most pleasant of experiences.

In early pregnancy you might be dealing with the nausea associated with morning sickness, while in the later months the weight of your growing belly can make the journey an exhausting one.

One thing that can make a pregnant woman's trip a little more bearable is a place to sit down.

Raayan Zafar is 11 weeks pregnant and taking anti-nausea medication.
Raayan Zafar is 11 weeks pregnant and taking anti-nausea medication.  Photo: Supplied

But, as a woman in London has now discovered, the offer of a seat in a packed bus or train is often difficult to come by - even when your body is growing another human being.

Expectant mother Raayan Zafar said she was confronted by an angry stranger after requesting access to a priority seat while riding on the city's tube system recently.

The 32-year-old told UK's Evening Standard that a middle-aged man said "Where is the baby?" when she asked to sit down on October 28.

This happened despite the fact the mother-of-one was wearing an official Transport for London 'Baby on Board' badge at the time of the incident.

"The man sitting [in the priority seat] was a gentleman and gave me his seat, but then a lady who was already standing in front of him tried to take the seat, so I made her notice me by saying 'excuse me'," Ms Zafar told the newspaper.

"That lady realised I was going for the seat, but the person sitting beside it started arguing with me, saying the lady wanted to sit there.


"I showed him my 'Baby on Board' badge and he then rudely asked me: 'Where is the baby?'

"I was shocked - is that the way to speak to a pregnant lady? Do I have to carry my maternity notes with me all the time?"

Ms Zafar is in the early stages of her pregnancy and is not yet showing, however she is on medication for her morning sickness.

She believed wearing the 'Baby on Board' badge would help people realise she was in need of a seat on the tube, but says instead she was left embarrassed by the confrontation. 

The 'Baby on Board' badge was introduced in 2005 to give pregnant women more visibility when commuting in London.

"If you're a mum-to-be, we understand asking for a seat on the Tube can sometimes be difficult. But if you have a 'Baby on Board' badge, passengers are more likely to see that you may need a seat," the Transport for London website explains.

"The badges aim to combat any awkwardness that may be felt when asking someone to give up their seat. It also lets passengers in priority seats know when they should give them up."

This incident follows a similar one in the UK in August, when a heavily pregnant woman was left standing on a train after a man refused to get out of a seat which she had reserved.

Mhari-Claire Doolan, was 34 weeks pregnant when she boarded the train in Birmingham on her way to Manchester.

There was a man sitting in the seat she reserved, but he refused to move, even when she showed him her ticket.  

"I was already tired and in pain and to be honest I'm so heavily pregnant I should probably not be travelling by train, so I made sure I had a seat booked," she told Daily Mail at the time

"I told him I had that seat booked and positioned myself so that he could see I was pregnant but he just ignored me.

"The electronic booking system had broken so I showed him my ticket. He looked at it and then just laughed in my face and turned away.

"I was left standing for more than half an hour, which was almost unbearable. But I didn't want to ask for someone else's seat and get laughed at again."