pregnant or plump passenger predicament

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I bet many of you readers have made the same well-intentioned faux pas as Jim in Barcelona:

As I travelled home by metro this evening in the beautiful city of Barcelona I had what I hope is the last awkward experience on this mode of transport.

I am in my 50th year and was brought up proper an’ that. This means that if I am on public transport I will stay alert for passengers who may be more deserving of a seat than me, a reasonably fit, able-bodied man.

Tonight for AT LEAST the seventh time in the last year I offered my seat to a lady, who I assumed was “with child”. The microwave stare I received when I stood and nodded in the direction of the seat told me she was not “with child” but more “with fondness for a cooked breakfast”. It’s a minefield here: many Latino women have slim faces and legs, but are “well nourished” around the midriff.

So, answer me this: other than the protruding belly, are there there any other outward signs of pregnancy that will help me avoid these situations in the future? Is there a swollen gland or other body part that is a giveaway that the woman has had an encounter with a live rather than cooked sausage?

‘Swollen gland’? Well, they have a mucus plug in their cervix, but checking that is going to create more problems than it solves. Similarly, pregnant women’s boobs are usually bigger, but studying their boobs for signs of distension is unlikely lessen the awkwardness of this interaction. Perhaps Jim could look out for the swollen ankles – even if not pregnant, somebody with swollen ankles probably needs to sit down.

Readers, if you know any other external signs Jim should look out for, tell him in the comments. Otherwise he’s going to have to start carrying his own ultrasound scanner on public transport.

PS Well done to Transport for London for their ‘Baby on Board’ badges. Sure, there’s something a bit mawkish about them, but they sure do save on awkwardness. Perhaps Jim could lobby Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona to introduce the same.

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