CHICAGO -- The Chicago Transit Authority is planning to issue buttons to pregnant women to encourage other riders to offer up their seats.
The program is expected to launch later this year, the CTA told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"The details of the CTA program - specific launch date, distribution plan, button design - are close to being finalized," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. "We're stoked about it."
The CTA has relied on loudspeaker announcements and signs to remind riders to offer up seats to pregnant women - tactics that simply aren't enough, according to several moms and moms-to-be.
Erin Fowler, 38, said she was frustrated in 2013 when she was pregnant and still forced to stand as she rode the Red Line downtown every day. In 2013, she pitched the button idea to the CTA at a board meeting.
"I had a script and I tried to be articulate and get them to take me seriously, and I submitted a summary of my comments," said Fowler, who lives in the Buena Park neighborhood and works for a philanthropic foundation. She even created a prototype in the colors of the Chicago flag and showed them to CTA board members.
She said a trip to London inspired the idea where she saw pregnant subway riders sporting "Baby on Board" buttons.
Fowler said people may be reluctant to offer their seat because of the awkwardness of not wanting to assume a woman is pregnant. She also added people can be too absorbed in their phones to notice.
"And sometimes in the winter you're just so bundled up it's hard for people to tell you're pregnant," said Megan Nufer, 32, who gave birth to her daughter, Charlotte, on May 31.
Dr. Julie Levitt, a clinical instructor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said pregnancy makes women more prone to motion sickness in moving vehicles they're not driving.
"And just being able to take a load off by sitting down would be outstanding," Levitt noted. "The other thing that happens is that when you're standing motionless, you're more prone to fainting because the circulation in terms of moving blood back to the heart is a little slower in pregnant women."
The buttons will spur a lot of sweet moments, she said.
"It's one of those ideas that will make the world seem like a smaller place, like people care again," she added.
CTA to release buttons encouraging riders to give seats up to pregnant women
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