If you’re a pregnant woman and your due date is approaching, your doctor or midwife will probably ask you how you’re going to get to the clinic or hospital when you go into labor. For those who have a car and somebody to drive them this shouldn’t be a problem, but what about those who don’t? Not to worry, you can now hail a special maternity taxi in Japan that will take you straight to the hospital as soon as possible. Iwate prefecture (岩手県) is the latest region in the country to start this kind of service so let’s check out exactly how it works.
It has been six years since the maternity taxi service was introduced to Japan. This kind of service guarantees women a taxi even in busy cities when you would normally have to wait. This means that women can have a comfortable, quick journey to the hospital without having to withstand busy trains. This service has proven popular and now masses of companies have set up the same service across the country.
A leading taxi company called Nihon Kotsu Co. (日本交通株式会社) began their maternity service in 2012. The company set up a membership club for pregnant women so they could register themselves beforehand to make it easy to call a taxi. They also hired midwives who give the drivers training in pregnancy and delivery in the case that the pregnant women need help. During the first year, 20,000 people signed up for the service. The success led other taxi companies to follow suit until it became a huge trend. This service provides peace of mind for expectant mothers and helps free up ambulance services for other critical conditions needing immediate care.
Just like in Tokyo (東京), pregnant women in Morioka City (盛岡市), Iwate Prefecture will now have access to the maternity taxi service called “Sankyu (サンキュー)” thanks to the help of Furusato Kotsu (ふるさと交通), a local taxi company. The name Sankyu comes from the Japanese words “san (産),” meaning childbirth and “kyu (救),” meaning save and also doubles up as the Japanese pronunciation for “thank you”. This service was introduced in Iwate in December 2016 and is committed to supporting women throughout their prenatal appointments until their labor time, whether during the day or at night. Drivers have also been trained to look after the expectant mothers during their trip to the hospital. However, they can not take full responsibility as they aren’t trained, medical professionals.
Unfortunately, during natural disasters or calamities and other unavoidable circumstances, it’s not guaranteed that a taxi will be available. On the bright side, the taxis are well-equipped with towels and waterproof sheets. You’re expected to prepare the plastic sheet and towel in advance if your waters are to break. However, there is no charge in the case that the seats get wet.
Up until this point, around 60 people have already applied for the service and the company is expecting many more women to register over the next years.
The popularity of this kind of service is on the up as the word spreads and is set to appear in other prefectures around Japan. If you’re an expectant mother, make sure to double-check whether the service is available in your area then register as soon as possible to avoid waiting around.
Furusato Kotsu Sankyu Taxi Website *Japanese only
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