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getting around

Why Having a Baby in Japan is a Bad Idea

Obviously I love Ruby and love being a mum but there are many, many things about having a baby in Japan (or at least the metropolitan areas of Japan) that are just so difficult and/or unpleasant. Here is one of them:

When you are pregnant almost no one will give up their seat for you.

I counted how many times someone gave up their seat for me on the train while I was pregnant – I think it was fifteen times in the whole nine months (or should I say 10? – ah let’s just say 40 weeks!). This despite my desperate appeals of pregnancy. I stuck my belly out, sighed, prominently displayed by “There’s a baby in my belly” tag, rubbed my belly, read books on breastfeeding and raising a baby, and still almost no one stood up so that I could get off my poor swollen feet! I got a bit more lucky right at the end of my pregnancy but that was by default. I was getting around with my best mate, who is vision impaired, and some people (not that many though) offered to give up their seat for her. She promptly gave the offered seat to me, pointing out that she was perfectly capable of standing up since there was nothing wrong with her legs and she was not carrying a small human in her belly!

My husband had a revelation a few months in to my pregnancy that improved my odds of getting a seat considerably though. He suddenly realized midway through a trip home that was filled with much sighing, glaring, belly poking out, and tag jingling, that we were standing in the wrong part of the train! We were standing in front of the priority seats, where people are supposed to let old people, disabled people, and pregnant people have a seat. This might sound sensible, but it was actually the worst thing we could have done. To put it bluntly, the kind of person who sits in the priority seat despite being able-bodied, young, and not growing a person inside them is NOT the kind of person that will give up their seat! They are the kind of person that will spend the whole trip sleeping, playing games on their phone (even though phones are supposed to be switched off in the priority seats), and avoiding eye contact with the obviously pregnant woman sighing and shifting her weight from foot to foot two inches in front of them. I found that once I gave up on the priority seat area and went to stand in front of youngish people in the normal area I was much more likely to get a seat – and for what it’s worth women were much more likely to give up their seats than men…


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