Fuel shortage: What to do if you're heavily pregnant and need to get to hospital

Expectant mother timing her contractions while sitting on couch at home
(Image credit: Getty Images/Westend61)

Fuel shortage aside, child birth can be stressful enough as it is. Babies are infamous for making their entrance when ever they want, so preparation is vital.

A woman's third trimester of pregnancy is all about preparing for the inevitable. And, knowing the fastest route to the hospital in all weathers is top of the list. But, with the fuel shortage happening across Britain, knowing if you'll have enough petrol in the car replaces that. Especially if a homebirth wasn’t on your original birth plan.

If you're heavily pregnant and concerned about no fuel, remember these tips below;

  • Keep calm and breathe
  • Make sure your hospital bag is good to go (include money for taxis)
  • If your water does break call your midwife/the hospital

Studies show that about 5% of babies arrive on their due date. So parents-to-be have to be ready to go at a moment's notice. And the ongoing fuel shortage happening across Britain at the moment has left so many people queuing for fuel, at a loss when there is none. 

Midwife Louise @thehonestmidwife told us; 'It's highly unlikely that, assuming you managed to find an antenatal class amid Covid-19, “What to do during a fuel shortage to get to hospital?” is on the list of learning topics.'

What to do if you need to get to hospital during a fuel shortage

So, what do you do if your car is in the red and we're still in the midst of a fuel shortage? 'First up, plan. Contact all your friends and family and ask if they can be on stand-by. Everyone loves being a super-hero. Get them primed and ready to whisk you off to the hospital if and when needed.'

Louise also recommends having the number of a local taxi firm to hand too; 'Just remember to take a towel or two with you to put down in the back of the taxi - just in case your waters break!'

This lack of fuel is becoming an increasing concern for women in their third trimester. Recent reports shared that 90% of independent petrol stations had no fuel, with social media sharing the very real reality of queues around the block of desperate drivers trying to fill up their tanks. 

Queue this morning near Bounds Green. Similar this evening. Traffic a total mess for those who need to get elsewhere by 🚌 or 🚘. 🚲 much better idea for those who can. #petrolpanic #fuelshortage #BrexitReality #whereisjohnson pic.twitter.com/ibwKBMlTU2

— Pat Venditti (@pvenditt) September 28, 2021

Mum-to-be Nell is 32 weeks pregnant with her second child agrees. She admitted to feeling ‘anxious’ about the whole situation.

‘When the fuel shortage was first reported we were away in Anglesey for the weekend. My main concern was going into labour early and not having enough fuel to get to a hospital! I was Googling how to deliver a baby at home, that and electric cars… but they’re so expensive.’

Ambulance on signal turning street corner

Credit: Getty

Although the fuel industry has been quick to reassure that there is fuel, and deliveries will happen by next week, it still leaves tanks empty now. And, babies can come at any time, they’re on no one’s schedule. 

With my wife heavily #pregnant and the impending rush to the #hospital only days away, I wondered if anyone who have taken too much fuel that they can let me have some?

I'm sure your driveway is important. But I need to get to the hospital

Cheers #petrolshortage pic.twitter.com/EACEkFCoi5

— Brad Chuck (@BradChuck) September 25, 2021

A statement released from the UK fuel industry last week, from all the biggies like BP, Esso and Shell said, 'As many cars are now holding more fuel than usual, we expect that demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, easing pressures on fuel station forecourts.’ 

What to do if you go into labour during fuel shortage?

If you do get caught out at home and find yourself meeting your baby on the kitchen floor, Louise shares a few things to remember. 'Breathe, assuming you are at your due date this is just a change of plan so, get excited, you're about to meet your baby.

'It's important to remember that if contractions haven't started but waters have broken you can call a taxi - there's still time at this stage. However, if you are having the overwhelming urge to push and think birth is imminent phone for an ambulance and advise that baby is on his way and there is no time to get to the hospital.

'As your baby is born you/or whoever is with you needs to give baby a firm rub down with a warm towel and then change the towel for a fresh dry one. Pop a hat on baby and a blanket round Mum. By the time you've done that, help will be with you. Time to stick the kettle on for a nice cup of tea.'

In addition to this advice, the NHS recommends that if your waters have broken do go into hospital - even if there are no contractions - to be checked out. Otherwise, if you are having contractions but your waters haven't broken, the advice is to wait until your contractions are regular (five minutes apart), strong, and last at least 60 seconds.

Always call your maternity ward or birthing centre before coming in. They also caution that if you don’t live close to your hospital, you may need to come in before this point, so if you're in labour, but don't have access to a car call ahead to your maternity ward or birthing centre.

An NHS spokesperson recently confirmed that there are no issues with the fuel supply for ambulances, and people should still call an ambulance if they need one. The London Ambulance Service offers some advice on when an ambulance needs to be called during labour - stressing that this would only be in an emergency, i.e.if you feel like you were about to give birth imminently.

The NHS also offers information for transporting women in labour to hospital, with each trust having their own policies, so if you're concerned it's important you speak to your midwife, who will explain the options available to you.

Stephanie Lowe
Family Editor

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodToKnow covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. Just keeping on top of school emails/fund raisers/non-uniform days/packed lunches is her second full time job.