The Pregnant Commuter

In our area we have a lot of commuters. Every morning, thousands of people take the GO train from Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Mississauga to get to their Toronto offices. Some even hop on the subway or streetcar at Union Station for the second leg of the trip.

Compared to driving, many people say that commuting is more enjoyable because of the freedom to rest, work or socialize along the way. There are some special challenges for the pregnant commuter but with some consideration, you’ll be just fine. Here are some tips:

Give yourself extra time.

Give yourself a little extra time to shuffle around the station, climb the stairs, and find a seat. Round ligament pain and shortness of breath are no joke when you’re dashing for a train and they’re likely to bog you down as early as the first trimester, probably before you “look pregnant” so you can’t even outwardly blame the baby while you cry out in pain and gasp for air.

If someone offers you a seat, take it.

For so many reasons. To acknowledge the good deed. To prevent falls (as the subway approaches Union, for example, there’s a lot of swaying). To avoid the awkward and potentially painful experience of a stranger rubbing up against your belly as the train fills up. To get a few minutes of rest (this probably mostly applies to the GO train)…especially important if you have older children! Commuting moms know that at the end of their marathon work day, their second job begins. Picking up the kids from child care and then getting them home, fed, bathed and in bed can be a monumental task when you’re tired and possibly even sick. Rest when you can.

If you really don’t want a seat, give a firm but gracious no: “Thanks for offering, I really appreciate it. I need to stretch my back out after a long day of sitting at my desk but I’ll hit you up next time.”

Don’t be offended if no one offers you a seat.

Some people will be so afraid to offend you that they just won’t ask. We always think we’re bigger and more pregnant looking than we are. If you really want to make sure you get a seat shoot for either the very first or last cars, which tend to be less full, or the accessibility car in the middle of the train where you can speak with a customer service rep who can make sure a seat is made available.

People will stare.

It’s just a fact of life! People are drawn to baby bumps and the train is kind of boring. If you hate it, stare right back at their bellies and give them a taste of how uncomfortable it is for you. Works like a charm.

If you’re experiencing a lot of sickness, carry a sick bag.

Even if you get a great seat close to a bathroom or waste bin, during rush hour the train is likely to fill to standing room only so there could be dozens of people between you and the bin. No one wants to vomit in public but you’d probably prefer to use a sick bag than to hurl on your train neighbour’s Macbook.

Know your snack options.

Happily, Union Station offers just about any kind of food and drink you could be craving. Ice cream? Yes. Carbs? Yes. Smoothies? Oh yes. Plan your route accordingly.

Wait for the crowds to clear.

By and large, people are nice. Friendly, courteous, accommodating. Still, rush hour on the TTC and GO platforms can feel a bit like Mufasa and the wildebeests when you’re pregnant. If it makes you feel more comfortable, let the crowds subside a little before you get on or off the train. If you really need to be at the front of the platform, stiffen your arms slightly to create a protective bubble around your baby, widen your stance and hold your ground. The platform’s not quite the mosh pit I’m making it out to be but it’s better to be extra protective than to be accidentally elbowed or pushed.

Are you commuting during your pregnancy? Any tips to share?