A Guide to Understanding Higher Education and Pregnancy

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Being Pregnant and Achieving a Degree Takes Time and Dedication

Completing a degree while also being pregnant can be a challenging experience for a mom-to-be. Achieving a degree takes time and dedication, between classes, exams and internships, there are things the woman must do to meet her goals. Pregnancy is demanding in and of itself, with emotional and physical changes occurring in the mother’s body. While the news that you are pregnant during the process of completing your degree may cause you to feel overwhelmed, there are things you can do to manage your time and prepare for your baby.

Challenges of College During Pregnancy

Christine Miller was working on a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education when she received news that she was expecting. Not only was she required to complete student teaching Monday through Friday, but she was also preparing for her new baby and an out of state move planned for two months after graduation.

Between managing common pregnancy discomforts and completing the requirements for the degree, things can become difficult for the expectant mother. Christine says, “I definitely did find it hard being pregnant, while student teaching, mainly because I had indigestion … and one way to alleviate indigestion, is to eat snacks. Unfortunately, when you are in the classroom teaching, you can’t have snacks unless all of the children can eat with you, and that is not appropriate throughout the course of the day!” Christine made it through this time by making sure that she did a good job at school while also taking care of her body by eating well and resting enough, so her baby would be healthy.

Finding a Balance

While a mom-to-be may struggle with finding a balance between how to manage being pregnant and the demands of obtaining a degree, there are a few tips she can follow to manage her time and ensure both she and her baby stay healthy.

Talk With School Faculty: While you should try to schedule doctor’s appointments for days you are off school, this may not always be possible. If your instructor knows about the pregnancy, he or she may be more understanding if you need to take time off for doctor’s appointments and when the baby is born. Ask the faculty at your college what programs they offer for expectant mothers. Some schools have daycare centers and support groups for new mothers.

Stay Healthy: Try to rest as much as possible and maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Consider Online Classes: If you are having trouble making it to class, due to appointments, fatigue or other issues related to the pregnancy, online classes can be a suitable alternative. Many schools now offer a large selection of classes that can be completed either fully or partially online.

Create a Support System: Support can come from your spouse, family members, friends or pregnancy support groups. Once the baby is born, you will need extra support to continue taking classes.

Stay Organized: Between pregnancy symptoms, classes, doctor’s appointments and preparations for a new baby, you may become overwhelmed or stressed. Try to prepare in advance for assignments and exams, and study whenever you can. Keep a daily planner that lists everything you need to do, and check items off as you complete them.

Christine was able to find a balance between the demands of completing her degree while also maintaining her health to protect her baby. For the expectant mom, Christine offers real mom advice, “ I would suggest to any mom’s-to-be that they take care of their body first-and-foremost…listen to it when it tells you that it needs rest. Don’t overdue it and try to stay away from stress (yes, easily said, harder to do!). Making up a schedule to organize your time is very helpful. This allows for you to plan ahead, so that you can allow enough time to take naps if needed. In my situation, having snacks available would have been a bonus! So, carry munchies with you if you are able to!”

Meeting Your Goals

While staying in college during pregnancy can be challenging for the mother-to-be, if she stays focused on her goals and takes care of herself, she will be able to have success as both a student and a mother. Christine’s son was born several months after graduation, and she decided to stay home after her baby’s birth to spend as much time as possible with him. During pregnancy, she admits things were hard; however, she also says, “Those were my priorities at that time, and I guess I just did what I needed to do.”

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