Mother-Friendly PSA in the Form of a Button
Choices in Childbirth spoke with the two Brooklyn-based parents behind Mommy Belly Buttons. Liem and Downy came up with their adorable buttons to allow public transit passengers to easily recognize if another passenger is pregnant. “Just pin the button on your belly and let your baby speak for you”, they say. CiC loves the simplicity of this much-needed PSA which hopefully leads to far more comfortable rides for urban moms. Thank you to Mommy Belly Buttons for donating buttons for 4 lucky winners at our March 19 workshop (Birth Team: Who Do You Really Want at Your Birth?)!
What inspired this button business?
Liem: I tended to be more proactive about asking people to give a seat to my wife, Downy, when she was pregnant. She rides the train to work each day, and she would seldom ask for a seat, sort of expecting people to offer her one first, which didn’t often happen.
Downy: We have a 10-month old and a 5-year old, and it was a hard commute everyday from Park Slope to Union Square. Especially last year when I was commuting in the winter time with a big coat on.
Liem: I started to notice that it wasn’t an isolated issue, and began to see the other side of the story. Sometimes people really don’t want to assume someone is pregnant. Offering a seat to someone based on the assumption that they’re pregnant could totally ruin that person’s day! Both people’s day! The buttons are really for the public, literally a public service announcement.
How long have you been making Mommy Belly Buttons?
Liem: We started just in the last month. We recently bought a button-making machine. At night after we put the kids down, we started punching buttons. A few local businesses in Park Slope have started to carry Mommy Belly Buttons. It’s really a side project but it’s fun to see where it might go.
On your website, you also admitted to the difficulty in being able to identify pregnant subway commuters sometimes. What is your usual modus operandi?
Liem: For me, better than asking, just get up. I end up proactively seeking out pregnant moms or moms with young babies or toddlers to see if they need a seat. There are a lot of layers in New york City though. While some people really don’t see a pregnant commuter, others do see and still don’t get up. So these buttons are pretty in-your-face. They have a tongue in cheekiness about them.
Transport for London (TfL) provides Baby on Board buttons for pregnant commuters. We heard TfL even gave one to Kate Middleton. Are there any other big plans in the works for Mommy Belly Buttons to expand your reach?
Downy: Yeah we actually learned about the Baby on Board badges from someone who lived in London right when we started making our buttons. It was a great coincidence.
Liem: I’m not sure how we’ll go about approaching New York celebrities, but that’s definitely an idea! We’re always exploring ways to simplify and improve the buttons. The more top-of-mind this issue becomes, hopefully the more courtesy we will see on the trains.