For Patients Hot Topics Obstetrics and Gynaecology Parenting

5 Medical Reasons to Give Up your Seat to a Pregnant Woman

Written by Dr Anne Henderson for Doctify

We’ve all seen it. Some of us may even have been guilty of it. A heavily pregnant woman wearing the now ubiquitous ‘Baby On Board’ badge being ignored by a carriage full of commuters. On a day when you’ve been on your feet for hours or have a headache, you may feel a little a flash of resentment. Why should you  have to give up your seat? Can standing really do a pregnant woman any harm?

Well, yes actually, it can. According to Dr Anne Henderson, you actually have no idea what could be going on in a pregnant woman’s body. Here are some actual, real medical reasons for giving up your seat. So, get your nose out of that novel and make sure you’re not making someone’s commute dangerous.

So, why should I give up my seat?

There are numerous reasons why pregnant women may need additional support when travelling on trains, the underground or buses. In particular, from six months (24 weeks gestation) onward. The reasons include the following:


  1. A pregnant uterus causes substantial pressure on the vascular supply to the legs. As a result, heavily pregnant women are more likely to experience discomfort. This includes leg and ankle swelling, varicose veins, pins and needles and related symptoms. In rare situations, the vascular stasis (lack of blood supply in the main leg veins) can lead to venous thrombosis and more severe complications.


  1. A significant number of women may become anaemic during pregnancy. Anaemia is a natural phenomenon that happens because of the increased needs of the unborn baby. As a result they can feel much more fatigued and exhausted than they would normally do, and can also experience symptoms of dizziness. Standing for long journeys can make it worse.


  1. Pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, cause significant relaxation of the ligaments and joints throughout the body. This happens in the pelvis in particular, in preparation for labour and birth. It can lead to increased lower backache, pain and discomfort in the pubic region as well as the hips.  Much like with the anaemia, this is exacerbated during periods where women have to remain standing upright for any length of time.


  1. Many pregnant women experience intermittent feelings of dizziness and giddiness, due to the impact that pregnancy hormones and changes to blood pressure can have on the delicate balance mechanism. They are more likely to feel unsteady while standing up and even fall over, which can cause injury to both the mother and the unborn child.


  1. In later pregnancy, the mother-to-be may also experience discomfort when her unborn baby is active and moving vigorously. This can happen at any time. Plus, most pregnant women say that it’s much easier to deal with when they are relaxed and sitting down, rather than standing up in a claustrophobic environment such as the underground.



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If you have been affected by anything mentioned here and want to know more, contact Dr Henderson below.


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