Pregnancy and commuting on public transport

Elsevier, Journal of Transport and Health, Volume 24, March 2022
O'Toole S.E., Christie N.
Introduction: Limited research has explored the influence of commuting on expectant mother's health and well-being and how expectant mothers can be supported during their commute. The present study aimed to identify the impact of commuting during pregnancy on women's physical and mental health. Further, the effectiveness of Transport for London's baby-on-board badge was explored. Method: This was a mixed-method study. An online survey of 295 participants over the age of 18 years was conducted to explore their views on commuting and the effectiveness of the baby-on-board badge. A subsample of female participants completed the General Health Questionnaire to assess the impact of commuting while pregnant on women's health. This was followed by a qualitative study in which 15 women who currently or previously commuted to work while pregnant participated in a semi-structured interview about their experience. Results: Commuting was found to represent a major challenge for some women during pregnancy. It was often a source of stress and anxiety and had detrimental effects on women's health and well-being, especially when they had pre-existing medical conditions. Pregnant women often made adjustments to their commute, such as traveling outside peak times. Although the majority of women commuting into London wore the Baby-on-Board badge during pregnancy, its effectiveness at encouraging commuters to offer their seat or give more space to expectant mothers was mixed. Many women felt the badges were ignored or difficult to see during crowded commutes. Conclusions: There is limited support for pregnant commuters. The main approach to supporting pregnant commuters is the TfL baby-on-board badge, but the effectiveness of this badge is mixed. A multi-agency approach involving transport agencies, employers, midwives and expectant mothers supporting pregnant commuters may result in a less stressful commute experience and improve women's well-being and productivity at work.